Working Knowledge: Vying for Eyes; October 2002; Scientific American Magazine; by Mark Fischetti; 2 Page(s)
Plasma televisions are the new status symbol. Even though they retail for $5,000 and up, they're selling like hotcakes. The displays are so thin, flat and light that they can be hung on a wall like a painting, transforming the TV set from a bulky, space-consuming appliance to a way-cool objet d'art.
The leading plasma displays measure 42, 50 and 60 inches diagonally yet are only three to five inches deep. Their resolution and brightness rival those of the best conventional cathode-ray tubes (CRTs). Although the obvious downside is cost, there is a less discussed fault: because a high voltage, from 160 to 200 volts, is required to excite the gas sandwiched between two glass plates, the units draw a lot of power and thus give off a lot of heat. The screens can also suffer burn-in-image artifacts etched into the pixels-in 10 years or so, according to Peter H. Putman, a display expert and president of Roam Consulting in Doylestown, Pa., if static images are persistently displayed at high contrast.