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Serviceman's Log

While sales of large-screen plasma and LCD TV sets are booming, people are still confused as to the choice: plasma or LCD? This situation has recently become a little clouded as "Mura" faults become evident on some LCD panels. The real kicker is that Mura faults may not be evident when you buy your set.

Items Covered This Month

  • Mura faults in LCD panels
  • NEC PXT42SV1B plasma TV
  • Acer Veriton 3500 desktop PC
  • Commodore VL distributor
  • Sanyo CP14G1(A) TV set

  • I am often asked what type of flat-screen television to buy these days. Should I get an LCD or a plasma display panel? My rule of thumb at this moment in time (because there are a lot of new technologies in the pipeline which will eventually supersede what we have now) is that for anything larger than 104cm (42-inches), you should buy a plasma set; for anything smaller, get an LCD set.

    Click for larger image
    The dark curved vertical band (arrowed) on this LCD panel is a typical Mura fault but other defects can also occur.

    Mostly this rule is governed by value for money, as large plasma sets are cheaper than large LCDs. Each system has its pros and cons and though there are many diehards who will not be weaned from CRT TV, I personally think the pictures on LCD and plasma displays are utterly fantastic.

    In the history of CRT television, the price has dropped from the equivalent price of a house in 1939 to less than a week’s supply of groceries. The price of thin flat-panel TVs has dropped a similar amount but in less than 10 years. Probably due to the lower voltages used, LCD TVs have smaller boards than their plasma counterparts and are therefore more reliable. As usual, most faults are in the power supply units, backlight inverter panels (for LCD sets) and smashed display panels.

    One aspect which should be considered when shopping for a plasma or LCD set is power consumption. While big plasma sets have bright, contrasty pictures, their power consumption should make you think twice. Typically, a large plasma set will pull 500 watts or more while a large LCD set will probably be under 200 watts.

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