Choosing the highest quality TV for your home theater is no decision that should be taken lightly. After all, the investment that you make on what you display your media on is essential to your overall experience. When it comes to QLED vs. Plasma, what are the differences?
While Plasma TVs are no longer in production by most manufacturers, they still rank high in terms of image quality, display, and value for cost. Still, QLED TVs are known to be more maneuverable, durable, and boast the ability to create true blacks for higher-quality picture composition.
Also read: Is it Worth Buying a QLED TV?
Still, while many home theater experts are all-in for the new QLED TVs, others remain loyal to their plasma TVs and will search high and low to find an older release bought secondhand (since they are not as available with limited production).
Let’s take a closer look to see what the differences are between QLED and Plasma TVs to decide which is better for your home theater.
What is a QLED TV vs. a Plasma TV Made of?
Before we can dive into the differences between QLED and Plasma TVs, it is firstly important to understand what each type of TV is made of.
Knowing how each type of TV is constructed can help to lay a foundational understanding that provides a better knowledge of why one may score higher in a certain ranking than the other.
So, what is QLED?
QLED TVs are LCD TVs that have been taken to the next level with a layer of quantum dot particles added to increase brightness, contrast, and overall image quality as well as prevent burn-in and enhance durability compared to organic particles used in OLED TVs.
On the opposite end, Plasma TVs use a layer of ionized gas (plasma) to enhance the brightness of the screen image with the ability to create a true black to effectively display images regardless of the TV positioning. The ionized gas is positioned behind the screen and is not exposed to viewers.
Plasma TVs have gone out of production in part due to the interference which could occur because of the gases used. Still, both types of TVs (QLED and plasma) can be found in home theaters across the world as they produce high-quality image displays of high definition media.
With this in mind, while some members of the home theater world will be loyal to one brand, others embrace the new (or old) benefits that the other type of TV has to offer. With either choice, though, you will see how the unique composition of parts allows for a high-end result in your home theater.
What are the Differences between a QLED TV vs. a Plasma TV?
Ok, so now that we know the main differences in how a QLED TV and a plasma TV are made (the layer that provides the additional brightness enhancement- among other benefits), it is time to take a closer look at the other factors that set these two types of TVs apart.
After all, doing your research and knowing the differences can help you to decide which is the right option for you and your home theater.
With that said, consider the following differences between a QLED TV vs. a Plasma TV:
Perhaps one of the most important components that will influence your decision to buy a QLED TV vs a plasma TV is the availability of both options.
For better or worse, most manufacturers are no longer producing plasma TVs. Yet, QLED TVs are just making their way into the home theater world with a resounding gong.
What does this mean for you and your home theater? While you might think that this means that buying a plasma TV is out of the window of opportunity for you, this is not necessarily the case. There are many ways that you can purchase a plasma TV secondhand, and if you are a loyalist, then this can be worth it.
Of course, purchasing any TV secondhand does not provide you with the same types of insurance that purchasing a device from a store or manufacturer would.
However, there can be a few benefits to this option. First, this gives you the option to even purchase a plasma TV in the first place. Second, this could help your budget as someone might be looking to get rid of an older plasma TV.
Still, you will want to consider why someone is selling the plasma TV in the first place. Since manufacturers are not producing plasma TVs by the truckload anymore, purchasing one secondhand comes with risks in the event that it needs to be repaired.
You may find that you end up spending more on these types of parts (or in replacement of the TV in its entirety) than you would have by just going with another option.
In grave contrast to the availability of plasma TVs, QLED TVs are really just starting to curb the market as many home theater enthusiasts are beginning to see the value in this higher-cost investment. With this enthusiasm, more people are beginning to install QLED TVs in their homes and are reaping the consequent benefits.
You should be able to find QLED TVs produced in a variety of makes/models with ease. This can give QLED TVs an edge for a few reasons in terms of availability, but the main reason is that it is simply available to everyone equally and at the same time without having to rely on a local, person-to-person resale market.
Another area that QLED and plasma TVs differ is the materials that are used to construct them as well as to hold them together. While we have already gone over the material that is the most different (the plasma ionic gas versus the quantum dot particles that provide an enhanced brightness and visual appeal), there are more parts to consider.
For example, the material used for a plasma TV screen is glass which can come with many benefits as well as risks. For one, glass is going to be clear (assuming it is clean).
On the other hand, a glass screen will be much heavier than other types of materials that can be used. With a glass screen, your TV becomes much heavier and less kid-friendly. You run the risk of your screen shattering more easily than if it were made of more durable material.
Along with the screen, the plasma TV has a more dense backing, so you will find that it sits in a slightly different position than most QLED TVs.
The overall structure of a TV can affect the way that you are able to position it in relation to the other components of your home theater room, so it is essential to consider the entire dimensions.
Still, going back to the material used on the screen, most QLED TVs have a hard plastic or thinner glass screen completed by a protective coat. This makes the QLED lighter in weight as well as more easily maneuverable as you move it to your designated media viewing room and attempt to mount it on a wall or stand.
Another factor that distinguishes plasma TVs versus QLED TVs is the maneuverability impacted by the heaviness of each type of TV.
Specifically, plasma TVs are known to be much heavier than QLED TVs because of the material that they are made from. With a thick glass screen, plasma TVs carry a heavier burden than their QLED hard plastic or thin glass screen counterparts.
Now, you might think that this is not the end of the world. Once you have your TV in the appropriate position, this will cease to matter. However, in the moments leading up to that, and even the moments following, the maneuverability of the type of TV you choose is highly important.
Consider the ability to transport the TV through your home into your home theater. Now, hopefully, if you are not in a position to be able to carry this for yourself, you will at least have the help of a friend, family member, or professional who can help you to bring this into the right location.
Still, once you bring your TV into your home theater room, you will need to mount it. If you are testing out a few different positions, you might be ok to try this with a QLED TV.
However, testing out a few different options might have to be an imaginary feat when using a heavier plasma TV as you are not going to want to hoist this up and attempt to mount it or position it until you are sure you know where it will go.
So, sure, the maneuverability of your TV (whether a plasma TV or a QLED TV) might not be something that you have to think about for long after you have secured the appropriate mounting equipment and your TV has made its way to your home theater room. But, when every bit of setup counts, the heaviness can, quite literally, weigh down on your decision.
Outside of the materials used and the maneuverability due to how heavy your TV is, you want to consider the durability of your QLED TV or plasma TV in a few different capacities.
First, you want to consider how durable the materials are and if they are prone to being damaged. Second, you want to consider the longevity of use. Finally, you want to consider how durable the materials are with respect to changing environmental conditions.
When it comes to the materials used and how prone they are to damage, we have touched on this a bit for QLED TVs versus plasma TVs.
Specifically, QLED TVs are much less prone to screen damage because they are made of a hard plastic or thinner glass as opposed to a thick glass screen used by a plasma TV. This means that if you have children or large pets around (or you tend to become highly disgruntled when your team is losing, causing you to toss the remote), then you should opt for a QLED TV.
On the other hand, if you have an appropriately mounted TV that is not in the way of these types of risks, and you can assume that your TV will not be prone to general wear and tear, then you having a plasma TV might be in your best interest. The color is known to fade over time, but this is not something that is entirely predictable with QLED TVs, either.
Finally, the durability of QLEDs in changing environments is much more predictable as QLED TVs are not susceptible to changes in temperature, altitude, or other common factors that the ionic gas in plasma TVs can experience interference with. Because of this, you may find that a QLED TV is more reliable in terms of durability in all types of environments.
The longevity of a QLED TV versus a plasma TV has much to do with the factors described in terms of durability. Yet, there is more to your TV’s longevity than just these factors.
Depending on the model of TV that you go for, you may find that your QLED or your plasma TV is expected to be rated for more prolonged use.
In either case, you want to look for the number of hours that you can expect to use your TV for. Along with that, you want an option that prevents burn-in and other types of issues that can ultimately distort your image quality.
With a QLED TV, the quantum dot particles serve to protect your TV from burn-in, whereas plasma TVs are a bit more susceptible to this particular issue.
Regardless, it is important to look at the longevity of the specific make and model of TV that you are taking into consideration, because just like there are higher quality types of TVs, there are also higher quality models of each type- and this is true for both QLED TVs and plasma TVs.
How far back a TV sets your budget is inevitably going to be a factor that you have to consider when constructing your home theater.
Yet, I encourage you to think of the cost of your TV as a long term investment rather than a temporary solution. With the TV being one of the central elements to your home theater experience, it is worth making this the top of your budgetary priority list rather than something you skimp out on.
With this in mind, choosing to go the plasma TV route or the QLED TV route can still be a good option. Still, a QLED TV is more likely than not going to cost you quite a bit more than a plasma TV.
Unless you are buying a highly coveted plasma TV from a local guru who is selling his or her old equipment at a jacked-up price, you should find that plasma TVs are much less expensive.
Yet, again, you may find that you get what you pay for if you opt for the cheapest option of TV for your home theater. Even if you choose to go with the budget QLED option, you might not be as satisfied as if you had invested just a bit more for what is known to have much higher reviews.
Of course, I am not here to tell you to blow all of your budget, but I do encourage you to consider how repairs and replacements can ultimately add into your long term costs and cost you more for worse quality in the long run. So, do a cost-benefit analysis based on your interests and your particular budget, and see what you come up with.
Picture Composition (Contrast/Brightness)
Interestingly, the picture composition in terms of the contrast and brightness can both be of higher quality on a QLED or plasma TV than you will find on most LCD TVs.
This is mainly because both QLED TVs (with quantum dot particles) and plasma TVs (with ionic gas) have an additional layer built into their screens to promote a true black in image display.
What this means for the contrast and brightness is that the image is able to be displayed and received with an accurate contrast and brightness that will not change as much in certain lighting scenarios (or in certain scenes). Instead, both QLED TVs and plasma TVs are known to have great picture composition.
If you really want to compare the picture composition between a QLED TV and a plasma TV, you will need to look at the specific make and model of two of these types of TVs of interest. Then, not only can you do a test at an electronics store, but you can review the specifics of each model.
For example, if one TV is capable of streaming in 4K while the other is only able to stream up to 1080p, then you have tangible proof that one can provide a higher quality image.
Even if you prefer 1080p, personally, 4K is a higher definition meaning that it is objectively better quality for your image display. Thus, this would result in a better picture composition on a TV that could stream this type of media.
You can also measure the response time between each device in terms of picture composition.
If you are aware that one device has a lagging response time, and you are looking to stream higher definition media (particularly for gaming which requires zero delays in image display), then you would want to pay attention to the specifications of this quality on your QLED TV or plasma TV options.
Jason is a home theater expert with over 10 years of experience in setting up home cinema rooms and systems. What started out as a hobby soon transformed him into an authority in the audio-visual field. He is passionate about providing readers with accurate and up-to-date information on the latest audiovisual technologies and their applications for home theaters. Read more about Jason.