What’s the difference between LCD, Plasma and LED TVs?

Family Watching TV

Buying a new TV can be a confusing affair as you struggle to gain any clear answer about the differences between each type of screen on the market. Many people seem to have conflicting opinions about which is better so the below should help you to come to a firm decision on which type is best for you.


LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display and this type of television is the most popular around, mostly due to the fact that they can be purchased at a reasonable cost. LCD TVs work by light shining through the screen’s coloured crystal cells, to put it in layman’s terms, and signals which control individual cells let colour through in order to build a picture.

LCD televisions come in a range of sizes and offer the greatest variety of choice for HD TVs, size wise. These can be purchased in a 19 inch TV right up to a whopping 60 inch TV, with varying sizes in between.


LED stands for Light Emitting Diode and these TVs use a LCD panel with LED lighting used as the backlighting for the TV. These can be purchased as two basic types, Edge-LED and Full-Array LED; the difference between these is simply the positioning of the LEDs, which are either all around the edge of the display or behind the entirety of the screen.

LED TVs are a relatively newcomer to the market, although LED technology has been around for a number of years. As they do away with the traditional backlighting, LED TVs tend to be slimmer and more energy efficient than LCD TVs.

Plasma TVs

Plasma TVs are seen to be superior in quality by many people but have lost ground on the market recently due to the popularity and price of LCDs and LEDs. Plasma TVs work via an array of tiny gas cells which are sandwiched between two pieces of glass. These emit ultraviolet light which build a picture out of red, green and blue spots which glow to produce a picture.

So which is best?

As with many things, this depends on a number of factors which are unique to the buyer. Those interested in energy saving for example, would be better placed to go for a LED TV as these, especially edge LEDs, are the most energy efficient, whilst others may have a specific budget which limits their spending power, making LCD the most logical choice.

Quality-wise, there are a number of pros and cons to consider with individual types of TV and screen size also comes into play here.

Plasma TV - Pros

  • They handle ‘blacks’ very well, which means that picture depth and therefore quality is superior in many cases
  • Good for use in darker rooms
  • IPS models have improved technology that address problems with viewing angles, something to look out for if you’re considering purchasing a Plasma – older plasmas had many people complaining that they could only see the screen effectively face-on

Plasma TV – Cons

  • Slow refresh rates mean that some plasmas can appear blocky or blurred. To overcome this look for plasmas with a high refresh rate.
  • Lower ‘native resolution’ makes for reduced picture clarity when compared to LCD and LED TVs
  • Can be difficult to view in light rooms
  • Plasma TVs use a lot of energy

LCD TV – Pros

  • No screen burn, this can sometime occur with plasmas
  • Good in bright rooms
  • Great for gaming due to better refresh rates

LCD TV – Cons

  • Can’t produce true blacks so won’t give the same depth as plasma
  • Viewing angles are reduced

These are pretty minimal pros and cons and we haven’t included LEDs at all as these are much the same as LCDs. Traditionally, plasma TVs have been the most cost-effective, but as with anything else in life, the quality of a TV is determined by price and manufacturer – in other words, you get what you pay for.

What about screen size?

Screen sizes are important to some and not others but in general terms, the accepted size in terms of popularity, energy efficiency and accessibility is seen to be somewhere between 26 inch 32 inch TVs.

These days, all types come in sizes of up to 60 inch TVs and quality depends largely on the manufacturer. LG televisions tend to concentrate their efforts largely on the LCD/LED market and Panasonic tend to dominate the plasma market.

How do I choose a TV once I have decided on type?

It’s a great idea to carry out some research and there are plenty of resources these days to do so online. LG TV reviews are plentiful as they are a very popular brand but you can search the other big suppliers too such as Panasonic, Sony, Toshiba and Samsung. If your budget is really low then it’s worth considering unbranded models but these won’t give the same picture quality and clarity that you would enjoy with the higher end models.

It’s also worth considering size depending on the room in which you’re going to put the television; obviously for kitchens and brighter rooms then the better choice is going to be a smaller model such as a 19 inch TV and an LCD or LED display.

For bedrooms and small rooms a 19 inch TV would make a good choice and for average sized living rooms a 26 inch TV is ample, whilst a 32 inch TV will make the better choice for slightly bigger rooms. For very large living rooms you can consider stretching to a very large display such as a 40-60 inch TV.