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Plasma displays and plasma TV FAQs from Visual Apex

Frequently asked questions about plasma TVs

Visual Apex specializes in professional plasma TV lines from industry leaders like Panasonic, Pioneer and NEC. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions:

Q. What’s the difference between the "consumer" model and the "professional" model?

A. The retail marketplace today is flooded with plasma TV’s that come equipped with everything you’d need to start watching basic cable TV while your television sits on a tabletop stand. We call these "consumer model TV’s "the ones our parents would buy" They come with a built-in HD tuner which requires some sort of roof top antenna (or maybe just a coat hanger wrapped in some tin foil) in order to work.

The question to ask yourself is "Would I use the built in HDTV tuner? The good content is going to come via HD cable TV (and requires a separate tuner) or satellite (also requires a separate tuner). In short, it’s like getting free pregnancy tests for life after your vasectomy—thanks….but I really can’t use it!

Concerning the on board speakers, we have one thing to say: It is ironic that the manufacturers would have you to spend $$$ on your plasma and they include speakers that are normally muted—adding space and not much else. The consensus here is that value of the TV would go up if they made these speakers detachable….and disposable!

Professional plasma’s (what we sell) are designed for those who want to put their systems together component by component and don’t want to be force fed a table top plasma with sub par audio.

Professional plasmas do not include

  • speakers,
  • a tuner,
  • or mounting hardware----

...on purpose.

Whether it’s the Panasonic TH series (i.e. TH50PHD9UK etc) or the Pioneer PDP’s, these professional plasmas will plug into any theater system. Prior to purchasing, you’ll actually have the option of wall mounting, ceiling mounting, or even putting your plasma on a table stand. What’s more, with the expanded HD option available through satellite TV, you will not be limited to connecting your plasma via a coax connection that requires a tuner.

Pick your input type HDMI, DVI, component—whatever works best for your application is the only connection you’ll need to make.

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Q. Would I be compromising if I bought the EDTV (enhanced definition) instead of the HDTV (high definition) model?

A. The mother of all decisions...should I get ED or HD plasma? Like all decisions, it is a matter of preference. However, in our comparisons between ED and HDTV plasma, we found that there is not much of a difference. Yes, and HD plasma has a higher pixel count, and yes you can see the difference standing unusually close to the HD plasma watching HD programming. However, nobody really watches TV from that close and everything else including progressive scan DVD’s and standard definition television (SDTV) will run fine in the native resolution (852x480) of an enhanced definition plasma.

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Q. What should I buy - plasma display or LCD? Which is better?

A. It depends on what we have in stock at the time you place your call!

Choosing between plasma and LCD has only become more difficult as the technologies get closer in price and performance. But decisions to choose one technology over the other have been based on a lot of misconceptions between plasma and LCD. The biggest misconception surrounds burn-in on plasmas.

You really need to try hard to burn in a static image on plasma, and even if you do there are simple ways to correct this problem.

Below, we’ve put together a list of advantages for both technologies that will hopefully help you make a decision. For the record, we favor plasma because it looks better. It’s like the difference between Finding Nemo and Barbie Swan Lake.

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Q. Should I get an ED or an HD Plasma?

A. The mother of all decisions.  And like all decisions, it's a matter of preference and what makes you feel better.

You put 10 people in a room, 5 will tell you they see a difference between EDTV and HDTV, 5 will tell you they don't.  (And yes, those are official scientific results and all, like Trident's 4 out of 5 dentists.)  In our comparisons, we haven't seen a huge difference between the two.  Yes, an HD plasma has a higher pixel count.  And yes, you can see this difference standing unusually - nay, abnormally - close to the HD plasma watching HDTV programming.  But nobody watches TV that close and everything else, including progressive scan DVDs and SDTV will run fine in the native resolution (852/853/854 x 480) of an Enhanced Definition plasma.

So which one should you get?  Well, which one do you want?  You can't go wrong with either but you could< save money going with an EDTV over an HDTV without much performance loss.  On the other hand, if the majority of material you are going to be watching is HD, take full advantage of the technology and get the HDTV model.

Perhaps a better question you should ask yourself is which is better for my budget?

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Q. What size of plasma do you think I need?

A. Determining the size of your plasma TV is based mostly on personal preference. How big do you want your plasma TV to be? For us, and in our eight years of experience selling plasma TV’s the best way to determine how big you want your TV to be is to cut a piece of cardboard to the dimensions of the TV and hold it up to the wall. Not only will this help determine how your TV will look on the wall or in a cabinet, but you can also take it to the store to figure out what furniture would work best with your plasma display

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Q. How far back should I sit from my plasma display?

A. Again...there is no set answer and some people may love watching the display at three or four feet back. Oh the brightness…the gases...the sunburn! For obvious reasons, the smaller the plasma display, the closer you can sit to it.

37" plasma 8’ to 10’

42" plasma 10’ to 12’

50" plasma 10’-15’

65" plasma 12’-20’

These are just recommended viewing distances based on feedback from our customers as well as information from the manufacturers. Your kids may want to sit only 6' back and lick the screen during ice cream commercials.

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Q. How do I clean my plasma TV?

A. This is a tricky topic because the front panel of most plasma displays has been treated with an anti-glare coating that is easy to disturb. We have to reference the Panasonic 8 series operating manual for suggestions on how to clean your TV.

"The front of the display panel has been specially treated. Wipe the panel surface gently using a cleaning cloth or a soft, lint free cloth. If the surface is particularly dirty, wipe with a soft, lint free cloth which has been soaked in pure water, or water to which a small amount of neutral detergent has been added and then wipe it evenly with a dry cloth of the same type until the surface is dry.

DO NOT scratch or hit the surface of the panel with fingernails or other hard objects, otherwise the surface may become damaged. Furthermore, avoid contact with volatile substances such as insect sprays, solvents and thinner, otherwise the quality of the surface may be adversely affected". Try one of our plasma cleaning kits – click here.

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Q. What is an "input board" or "blade" and how do I install it?

A. Similar to computer cards/blades, plasma TV input options allow users to upgrade their equipment as standards and needs change. These input boards include the option of adding digital inputs (HDMI and DVI), tuners (NTSC, HDTV) and more standard inputs (component video, s-video or PC). Some blades include a computer motherboard/hard drive that is complete with windows software and fully network able.

Installation is a breeze, too. Lay the display flat on a padded surface and slide the board/blade in.

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Q. Where do I get my plasma TV serviced?

A. If you receive your plasma display and it’s working great, congratulations—we’ll probably never hear from you again until you want to upgrade or buy another for a family member or friend. But if you do need service on your plasma, please click here to find a local service center or toll free contact number.

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