OLED Vs Plasma?

Public Face Off Delivers a Clear Result

HDTVTest shootout
HDTVTest plasma vs OLED shoot out

For many serious AV enthusiasts, LCD screen technology just doesn’t cut it. Its inability - using current technologies, anyway - to deliver truly localized lighting means it just can’t give film fans the contrast and black level depths their movie-loving habit craves. So much so that many AV fans are still using full HD plasma TVs, where each pixel can produce its own light, rather than upgrading to 4K UHD LCD TVs. 

Cue OLED technology. This relatively new type of screen format also features pixels which each create their own light level and color - yet unlike plasma screens (which were discontinued in 2013) OLED screens can fit the necessary amount of pixels in their screens to deliver a native 4K/UHD resolution. (For more details on why people are so excited about OLED technology, check out The Five Key Advantages of OLED.)

This raises the prospect of giving plasma TV fans the sort of subtlety and contrast they crave but with four times more pixels thrown in for good measure. While OLED certainly seems on paper to be just what the AV doctor ordered, though, you can’t beat a good old fashioned head to head shoot out to confirm its potential. Especially if that head to head is conducted in front of a public audience of exactly the sort of AV fans likely to still prefer plasma over LCD.

With this in mind, respected UK AV website hdtvtest.co.uk recently got together with Leeds Trinity University and UK retailer Crampton & Moore to set up a public show down between the hottest new OLED TVs on the block — the LG 65EF9500 and the Panasonic 65CZ950 ​— and what many consider to be plasma’s finest hour, the Panasonic TC-P60ZT60.

The audience for the shoot-out comprised nearly 30 AV enthusiasts who pre-registered for the event via the HDTVtest website. To make the competition as fair as possible each TV was set up to a professional level by HDTVTest’s resident calibration experts, and simultaneously fed the same combination of test scenes from Gravity, Skyfall and Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part Two. 

The attendees were then asked simply to vote for which screen they felt delivered the finest picture quality - and the results were actually even more emphatically in favor of OLED than the most die-hard OLED fans might have predicted. 

Of the 28 votes that counted, no less than 88% went to the OLED screens. To be more precise, the Panasonic 65CZ950 bagged 12 votes, the LG 65EF9500 scored 11 votes, and the once-supreme Panasonic plasma TV racked up just three fans.

Asked for more detail on why they were so seduced by OLED’s charms, the voters stated that they felt the OLED screens produced punchier, purer whites and deeper, more natural blacks than the plasma screen. It wasn’t all bad news for the plasma set, though, as the voters also stressed that it held its own very well during around 90% of the test material. It also, they felt, out-performed the OLEDs with motion clarity and when it came to retaining good blacks at the ‘near black’ luminance level.

While the LG OLED was edged out by the Panasonic 65CZ950, meanwhile, LG might actually see the result as a pretty good one when you consider that the 65EF9500 used in the test costs barely half as much as the Panasonic 65CZ950 - assuming the latter screen even gets a US release, which is not confirmed as yet.

My own experience with both the best of the plasma world and the latest OLED screens means that the results of the shoot out don’t come as a great surprise; I’ve long felt that OLED can reach picture places that even plasma could not. With LG now promising both some big picture improvements for its next generation of OLED TVs as well as some incredible design concepts, it really does look as if it’s finally time to bid plasma a fond but permanent farewell.