Even in a recession, Americans will be shopping for electronics this holiday season. If a TV is on your list (or the list of someone lucky for whom you're buying gifts), you're probably weighing the options of plasma versus LCD.
In the past, many shoppers shunned plasmas because they feared burn-in, a sort of "ghost image" left on the screen after changing the channel. For instance, if you watched a lot of one particular network, the image of that station's logo in the bottom right corner could be permanently etched into your screen even if you were watching something different. But a tech blogger testing new plasma TVs found that burn-in issues have gone the way of Betamax, thanks to better engineering and more advanced technology.
The intrepid techies over at HDGuru.com gathered up a bunch of plasma TVs manufactured in 2008 and 2009 and actually tried to create burn-in by freezing an on-screen image for hours and hours. They found that the screens suffered no ill effects. That's right, no burn-in. They also studied floor model plasmas at retailers and found no evidence of burn-in. The site details the complicated technological reasons behind the TVs' better performance; you can click on the link to take a look if you're interested in that sort of thing.
What's important, though, is the bottom line: You'd have to pretty much set out on a mission to create burn-in on a newer plasma set for the dreaded afterimage to occur. Normal home use -- whether watching TV or playing video games -- isn't taxing enough to mar the screen permanently.
Just like those early burn-in troubles, though, the worry about it seems to have remained in the general public's consciousness long after technology eliminated the problem.
Plasma has been losing ground to LCD in the TV battles; Our sister site Engadget chronicles how LCD has overtaken plasma, noting that once manufacturers were able to produce LCDs large enough to compete with the 42-inch plasmas that were most popular, consumers overwhelmingly chose LCDs. Since many video buffs say plasmas deliver a better-looking picture, though, it's reasonable to assume that buyers' unfounded fear of burn-in hastened the slump in plasma popularity. Engadget also points out, though, that even the currently popular LCD will eventually be replaced by newer technology.
In other words, if you're contemplating a plasma TV to add to your holiday decor this year, don't let the fear of burn-in stop you. (If you can't afford a new TV, feel free to let the fear of sky-high credit-card rates scare you, though!)
Ghost in the machine? No burn-in for plasma TVs