Is HDTV Plasma Worth the Extra Money?

One of the key determining factors in selecting your plasma screen should be its resolution. HDTV (high definition TV) plasma screens are always more expensive than EDTV (enhanced definition TV screens) due to the fact that it costs manufacturers much more to make the plasma display element.

A high-resolution monitor may or may not offer a better picture than an EDTV resolution monitor: it all depends upon the input signal and the quality of the Plasma TV manufacturer and model. An HDTV signal may actually appear better on some EDTV resolution plasma screens, depending upon the quality of the display and its internal processing circuitry.

Generally, when comparing a high-resolution plasma display with an EDTV plasma - both from the same manufacturer - with an incoming HDTV signal, you will see a better picture from the HDTV unit. An EDTV plasma, however, may perform better with lower end video signals such as regular cable or satellite TV, as well as DVD. This is because they have less converting to do from input to display. Overall, a quality brand-name plasma display with robust video processing will ensure the best picture from any source, whether the plasma has an HDTV or EDTV native resolution.

So why make plasma displays with higher resolution which cost more? Aside from the increase in quality from HDTV sources, a higher resolution allows for much better display of computer XGA signals (1024 x 768), currently the most popular PC display resolution. This is especially the case with text or numeric data displays, which may be distorted and unreadable if scaled improperly.

To figure out which plasmas are high resolution displays, all you need to do is look at the screen's native pixel resolution:

Standard EDTV Resolution

853 x 480: typically found on 37", 42", 43" & 46" plasma screens

High-Definition HDTV Resolution

1024 X 768: found on 42" & 43" plasma screens
1280 X 768: found on 50", 61", & 63" plasma screens
1365 X 768: found on 50", 61", & 63" plasma screens

Generally, a plasma TV screen is considered "High Definition" if the second number of the resolution is at least 720 pixels.

Almost all plasma screens today are considered "HDTV compatible" or "HDTV ready," meaning that they will accept and display an incoming HDTV signal, be it 720p or 1080i. Note: Since the terms are often used interchangeably, they may or may not describe whether or not the TV has an HDTV tuner built in.