Plasma, LCD, Projection: Which HDTV is Right For Me?

ByABC News
November 29, 2006, 1:09 PM

— -- Everything You Need to Buy an HDTV Guide | Do I Need One? | Which Set's For Me? | Cost and Features | Where to Find HD Programming | All of the Other Stuff | The Ultimate HDTV Checklist | Slideshow: HDTV Sets | Slideshow: Cables and Inputs

The TV set you likely have in your home today is called a CRT TV or cathode ray tube TV. It's what most of us think of when we think about television sets -- a large, slightly rectangular set that's heavy and deep and doesn't generally offer high-definition programming.

HDTVs can be broken down into a couple of main technologies: plasma, LCD or liquid crystal display, rear projection HDTV -- usually DLP or digital light projection -- and front projection.


Plasma is the most well known of the HDTV technologies and offers a bright, beautiful image in a very flat package that can be mounted on a wall or live on a stand.

The main drawback to plasma is when something "burns in" -- when an image stays in one place on the screen for so long that it's permanently burned into the screen. Though significant strides have been made in curbing plasma burn-in, it's still a factor you don't have with LCD or rear-projection TVs.


Liquid Crystal Displays or LCDs, don't generally present as good an image as plasma TVs, but are generally cheaper and are just as thin.

Slowly but surely LCDs are becoming the HDTV of choice, but beware of limited viewing angles and screens that are so bright they some lighter colors get washed out.

Rear-Projection (DLP)

If you want a TV that's over 50 inches and don't want to end up spending a fortune, rear-projection is the way to go. DLP sets offer images that compete nicely with plasma and LCD at about two-thirds to one-half the price. They're deeper than flat panel displays, but are still only about a foot deep at most. The main drawback to these sets is that like older rear-projection TVs these sets have a limited viewing angle. If you're standing too far to the side of the screen, the image disappears.

Front Projection

Front projection consists of the use of a projector not unlike the slide projector your uncle forced you to watch vacation pictures on when you were a kid. Of course these little guys have come a long way, and they offer impressive image quality and large projection sizes at comparatively inexpensive prices. The biggest drawback to projectors, though, is that the images they produce are easily washed out by sun or room light and you need the space for both a screen to project to and the space to make it work.

Click on the links below to learn everything you need to about HDTVs and be sure to print out a copy of's Ultimate HDTV Checklist to bring to the store with you.'s Everything You Need to Buy an HDTV Guide

Do I Need An HDTV?

Plasma, LCD, Projection: Which HDTV is Right For Me?

Slideshow: HDTV Sets

Cost and Features: What Should I Look For?

Where Can I Watch High Definition Television?

Cables, Installation and Furniture: All of the Other Stuff

Slideshow: Cables, Inputs and Outputs

Print and Save: The Ultimate HDTV Checklist