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Reader Question: PC/TV Plasma Bargain?

December 27, 2005 | Author: Ibex Marketing

I just ran across an ad for a 42″ plasma TV that has PC input and can double as a computer monitor. When I investigated further, I found that the 42″ screen has a resolution of 852 by 480 pixels. Wow! By comparison, a 19″ LCD monitor normally has 1,280 by 1,024. The pixels on the plasma TV must be the size of a dime. Is this a VGA input? Does it make sense to try to use it as a computer monitor?
Michael H., New York, NY

The ED plasma panels are on their way out, which is why you’ll see them advertised at some astonishing prices.

The problem with plasma is that it’s very difficult to make small pixels. This is one area where LCDs have a major advantage, as you note about the high resolution of the 19″ LCD monitor. 852 by 480 resolution is called WideVGA, which is what you need for EDTV (Enhanced Definition). It works great for DVDs and most TV programming, but really the only improvement over a SDTV (Standard Definition) is that it has a wide aspect ratio. It also does not work particulary well as a desktop PC display.

One application that this panel will be very good at is digital signage. You don’t need or even want a lot of content displayed on the screen at once, as the viewer will be at some considerable distance. And driving it with a computer is an excellent solution, as you can program the content much more effectively than recording it on some type of video playback system.

So consider this monitor as a reasonable choice for home entertainment even though it’s not HD resolution, or for digital signage, but don’t plan to use it as your computer monitor.

Curious about what a 42″ plasma EDTV costs this week? Get the inside story with the latest advertised prices in Professor Poor’s Weekly Price Intelligence Report. A new issue is available today, and every Tuesday!