The 5 Best Reasons to Buy a Plasma TV Today

Looking to buy a new TV for your home? Well before you snag that featured deal on an 82" QLED smart TV at your local electronics shop, hear me out on why you should actually consider picking up an old plasma screen instead.

Yep, I‘m suggesting that in 2023, plasma televisions might be the smartest purchase you can make. Might being the operative word there. Allow me, your friendly neighborhood TV tech expert extraordinaire, to explain…

What Exactly Are Plasma TVs Anyway?

You remember plasma TVs right? Those paper-thin displays that everyone had back in the late 90s/2000s before LCD and LED panels took over the world?

Plasma televisions were the first commercially viable flat panel displays, utilizing tiny gas plasma cells that emitted their own light rather than requiring a separate backlight like modern sets. This gave plasmas class-leading contrast ratios, inky blacks, fast refresh rates, and wide viewing angles.

For nearly 20 years, plasma TVs were often considered the gold standard of picture quality in consumer television technology. But by around 2014, the last plasma model rolled off the assembly line. Why?

The Fall of Plasma TVs

Plasma televisions did have some weaknesses compared to up-and-comers like LCD and eventually OLED and QLED panels:

  • Higher power consumption and heat output
  • Tendency for temporary "image retention"
  • Risk of permanent image "burn-in"
  • Shorter overall lifespan
  • Heavier and thicker than other technologies

Additionally, it became increasingly difficult for manufacturers to scale up plasma production beyond 50-60". LCD and other displays had no problem reaching 70, 80, and even 100"+ screen sizes.

When you combine the size limitations with rising concerns over power usage, plasma technology just couldn‘t keep pace. And so it was discontinued, joining Betamax tapes, HD DVD, and MiniDiscs in the tech graveyard.

But does this mean plasma TVs don‘t still have a place in the modern living room? Not so fast!

5 Reasons You Should Consider a Plasma Display in 2023

Despite being discontinued for nearly 10 years now, plasma televisions do still have some unique benefits that savvy buyers would be foolish to ignore outright:

1. They‘re Ridiculously Cheap These Days

Since no one is manufacturing new plasma displays anymore, they can only be purchased second-hand at this point. That means clearance sale prices across the board!

Whereas upcoming 2023 model OLED and QLED TVs are coming in with eye-watering 5-digit price tags, you can snag a 50" 1080p plasma in great shape for $150 or less. 60"+ plasmas often sell for under $300. That kind of discount is impossible to beat!

Here‘s a look at how the average plasma TV prices have declined over the past 15 years:

YearAverage Plasma TV Price

Data Source:

2. Lightning-Fast Refresh Rates

Modern televisions rely on either global backlights (LED) or per-pixel light sources (OLED) to illuminate their panels. But plasma TVs utilize proprietary gas mixtures that illuminate at insane speeds.

This allows plasma sets to reach sub-1ms response times that make them perfect for fast-action sports viewing and intense gaming sessions. No chance of motion blurring or input lag here!

3. Best-in-Class Contrast Ratios

Before OLED panels arrived on scene, plasma televisions were kings of black levels and contrast. Rather than try to dim LED backlights or turn off individual pixels, plasmas rely on gas charges to product brightness and darkness.

The result is a staggering contrast ratio that enables the deepest blacks right alongside searing whites – ideal for cinema-like viewing experiences.

4. Excellent Off-Angle Viewing

Remember those old LCD monitors that looked fine head-on but turned into unviewable messes with the slightest change in viewing angle? Well plasma TVs never had that problem.

Their wide optimal viewing angles mean everyone gets an equally stellar experience regardless of seating position. No more fighting over the "best spot" on movie night!

5. Built-In Heater = Lower Utility Bills

Okay this one may be stretching it. But the higher power consumption required to ionize all that gas does result in plasmas emitting noticeably more heat than comparable screen sizes today.

And with energy costs soaring worldwide, having a TV that doubles as a space heater might let you lower that thermostat an extra degree or two this winter!

Of course the increased energy usage isn‘t exactly an environmental positive. But squeezing some bonus utility out of an older display that would otherwise be bound for a landfill isn‘t the worst compromise either.

How Do Plasma TVs Compare to Newer Display Technologies?

Before you decide to dust off Dad‘s old plasma screen from the basement for your living room upgrade, let‘s see how it stacks up against those shiny new models on retail shelves today:

Image Quality★★★★☆★★★☆☆★★★★★★★★★☆
Black Levels★★★★★★★☆☆☆★★★★★★★★★☆
Refresh Rate★★★★★★★☆☆☆★★★★☆★★★★☆
Viewing Angle★★★★★★★☆☆☆★★★★★★★★★☆
Response Time★★★★★★★☆☆☆★★★★☆★★★★☆
Motion Blur★★★★★★★☆☆☆★★★★☆★★★★☆
Screen SizeUp to 60"Up to 100"+Up to 100"+Up to 100"+
Power Use★☆☆☆☆★★★★☆★★★☆☆★★★☆☆

Key: More stars = better performance

While plasma TVs excel in areas like refresh rate and contrast, their smaller maximum sizes, higher power draw, and shorter lifespans are definite negatives compared to alternatives.

The Bottom Line – Should You Buy a Plasma TV in 2023?

Given their age and disadvantages vs newer television technologies, I can‘t fully endorse running out and purchasing a plasma TV without some qualifiers:

Buy a plasma if:

  • You plan to utilize it for retro gaming/TV consoles in a secondary room
  • You need an affordable extra guest room/basement TV option
  • You value fast gaming performance over smart connectivity
  • You prefer deeper blacks over the latest/greatest tech

Avoid plasmas if:

  • Your primary usage is streaming/smart apps
  • You need a 70"+ class screen
  • Power efficiency is a top concern
  • You want long-term future-proofing

Since they‘ve been off the market for nearly a decade now, plasma TVs can represent outstanding budget buys if found in great condition. But make sure your use case plays directly to their strengths before abandoning modern alternatives!

For most buyers focused on a living room upgrade, new LED, OLED and QLED televisions check the right boxes in terms of smart connectivity, screen sizes, and energy efficiency. You‘ll miss out on world-class black levels, but 4K HDR content looks gorgeous on the newer tech too.

No matter which display route you choose, remember to always recycle older TVs properly rather than dumping them in landfills illegally! Many municipalities offer free drop-off locations that will break down older models for safe materials reclamation rather than environmental contamination.

Ask Me Anything!

Still have some nagging plasma purchase questions? Drop them in the comments section below. What models are best for retro gaming? Is screen burn-in an overblown concern? How do I access technical service menus? Whatever is on your mind, I‘ll do my best to deliver a thoughtful answer drawing from my decade-plus of display industry expertise!

Let the plasma debate rage on…

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