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Elder Friendly Guide to Plasma TVs

Even though LCDs are gaining momentum, plasma televisions are still very popular. And as we detailed in this post, which compared plasmas, LCDs and LEDs, a few of the plasma’s features do beat out its competitors. These televisions are also cheaper than LCDs and LEDs because they utilize an older technology.

If you’ve come to love the plasma, then you should know what features can make your television-watching experience even more pleasant.

What to Look For in a Plasma TV:

I. High Resolution

High definition television is all the rage right now, and it’s easy to see why. The picture is so sharp that many who have mild cases of nearsightedness find that they don’t need to wear their glasses when viewing a plasma HDTV.

However, in order to obtain HDTV signals your plasma must have a high pixel resolution. Anything above 1280×720 will do, although 1920×1080 is optimal. You can tell if a plasma has sufficient resolution by checking for codes like 720p or 1080p. This is shorthand for HDTV video categories. The number represents the quantity of vertical resolution lines, and the “p” stands for progressive scan. Anything lower than this may still create a clear picture, but it will not be capable of producing an HDTV picture.

Panasonic VIERA G10 Series TC-P50G10 50-Inch 1080p Plasma HDTV

High ResA 50-inch plasma with 1080p HDTV? You can’t get a much clearer picture than that. This TV is also great if you have grandkids who love video games, as the picture quality translates impeccably to gaming systems.

II. Wide Viewing Angles

If you have people over often to watch movies or television programs, or if you typically watch TV while engaging in other activities throughout the room, then you want to be sure you have a wide viewing angle. Fortunately, plasmas provide the widest viewing angles of all three types of televisions.

While a 160-degree viewing angle is standard for plasmas, they can go up to 180. If your grandkids typically watch television from the floor, or if you tend to putter around the room while the TV’s on then a plasma with wide viewing angles is the thing for you.

Samsung PN42B450 42-Inch 720p Plasma HDTV

AnglesThis plasma boasts a near perfect 180-degree viewing angle. According to customer reviews, it has virtually no dead zones, meaning that the picture maintains its integrity from anywhere in the room.

III. Slim Design

Seniors who are crunched for space will appreciate how thin plasmas have become over the years. The typical plasma is now six inches thick. This allows it to sit on almost any table or inside any entertainment unit. It can even easily fit inside a kitchen nook if you like to emulate your favorite cooking shows. The plasma’s slim design will also prevent people from bumping the television or running into its corners, as it’s not likely to jut out wherever it’s situated.

Viera Z1 Series 54″ Plasma 1080P

Slim DesignA six-inch television may be skinny and convenient, but plasma technology has become so sophisticated that one-inch televisions are becoming all the rage. This Viera Z1 Series Plasma is one such model. Despite being only one inch thick, this television has a 54-inch screen and 1080p HDTV.

IV. High Widescreen Aspect Ratio

Like a TV’s resolution, a high widescreen aspect ratio can make a big difference in the picture. Simply defined, aspect ratio is the fractional relationship between a picture’s width and its height. Most plasmas have an aspect ratio of 4:3. However, if you want to watch movies on wide-screen settings or if you plan to utilize HDTV then you need to purchase a plasma with an aspect ratio of 16:9.

LG 42PQ10 42

Aspect RatiThis plasma, like all others with a 16:9 aspect ratio, is almost 80% wider than it is tall. This ratio more accurately mimics the human eye, which is better at seeing horizontal images than vertical images.

V. Anti-Reflective Coating

Most plasma televisions have glass screens, which reflect a lot of light. This can make it difficult for anyone to watch television in a room with lots of natural or artificial light, but it can make it downright painful for those with cataracts. Anyone buying a plasma should be sure that it comes with an anti-glare coating, which will prevent colors from washing out and eyes from straining against the light.

Panasonic TH 50PC77U

ReflectiveNo one likes to be cooped up in a dark room with only the TV’s glow to keep them company. With this Panasonic, you don’t have to. It’s equipped with anti-glare technology, which allows you to watch television with the proper lighting.

VI. Burn-in Reduction

Plasmas have come a long way from the clunky models of a decade ago that permanently burned logos into the television if left on the same channel for too long. Anti-burn technology for plasmas isn’t perfect yet, but there are models out there that prevent images from becoming mainstays on the screen. This feature is especially important for anyone who is forgetful and may walk away from the television for hours at a time without turning it off. According to CNET, many companies like Pioneer and Panasonic employ technologies that shift stagnant images ever so slightly by a few pixels to prevent them from burning into the screen.

Samsung PN58A550 58-Inch 1080p Plasma HDTV

Burn inSamsung employs auto pixel shift technology to move pixels when images overstay their welcomes.

VII. High-Quality Internal Speakers

Many people opt to purchase speakers separately to enhance the sound of their TV. But why do that when you can simply purchase a model that has high-quality sound to begin with? The easiest way to ensure that your sound is loud, crisp and clear without buying additional accessories is to look for a plasma with a high wattage level. Standard models come with 10W X 10W, per the Plasma TV Buying Guide, while optimal sound will come from units with 15W X 15W.

LG 50PG60 50-Inch 1080p Plasma Frameless Edge HDTV

SoundThis LG is a very sophisticated model. Not only is it ultra-slim, coming in at just a hair over three inches, but it has built-in hiddin speakers that utilize clear voice technology. This makes voices stand out while background noise fades, well, into the background. It comes with 10W X 10 W wattage.

VIII. Complete Control Panel

Remote controls are the most practical way to control your TV’s settings. However, if you misplace your remote often or if you’re accident prone you’ll want your plasma to come with a complete control panel. It should include the power, channel, volume and menu buttons. The panel should also be easy to access. Front panels are ideal, although side panels can work too, as long as you’re able to see what’s happening to the television when you push the buttons. Some plasmas also cover their control panels for aesthetic reasons. This is fine, just be sure that you can slide, unhook or lift the cover easily.

Zenith 42 in. 720p 600Hz Plasma HD Television

Display Panel

This model has clearly marked buttons with text displayed in white, making them easy to read. The panel is also conveniently located and consists of input, output, menu, volume up and down, channel up and down and power.

IX. Lightweight

Not only are plasmas losing depth, but they’re also losing weight. Deeper 40-inch plasmas can weigh about 150 pounds, while a thinner model of the same size may weigh around 70 pounds. Larger plasmas may never be hassle-free to maneuver, but they are getting much more convenient. If you plan to set up the television yourself, or if you think you’ll be re-positioning it frequently to accommodate groups of different sizes, then you’ll want a lighter model. Lightweight plasmas generally weigh 50 pounds to 80 pounds.

Panasonic TH37PH9UK 37-Inch Plasma HDTV

LightweightThis plasma may be 37 inches, but it’s only 65 pounds. Its lightweight design makes for easy wall mounting, and its slight size emphasizes the plasma’s energy efficiency. In fact, this Panasonic is Energy Star certified.

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2 Responses to Elder Friendly Guide to Plasma TVs

  1. Custom TV Installations November 25, 2009 at 3:38 pm #

    Remember when mounting your plasma or LCD screen on the wall — HDTVs require slightly closer viewing distances than the analog TVs. Five times the screen width is the optimum distance for watching an analog TV. But HDTVs should be watched from the maximum distance of three to four times the screen width.

  2. Dorothy Miller January 22, 2010 at 7:05 am #

    I am looking for a 32″ TV that I can get added warrenty on. Price has to be reasonable. Sonya, Sony, Any good major brand.

    I have a Sonya now I fogot to take the extended warrenty. It went out two weeks after the first year.
    Appreciate your help.

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