Plasma vs OLED

What are OLED TVs and plasma TVs, and how are they different?

A man using a smart TV

 Manuel Breva Colmeiro / Moment Open

Plasma and OLED are two types of displays. You normally see these terms when you're comparing plasma TVs and OLED TVs.

OLED, which stands for organic light-emitting diode, is a more common display type that's an improvement on the older LCD technology. The lesser-used plasma display panels use plasma.

Plasma TVs have all but disappeared as OLED and other technologies like Super-AMOLED take over the scene. In 2014, because of production costs and lack of adequate competition with other screen technologies demand, Panasonic, LG, and Samsung stopped producing plasma TVs.

Similarities Between Plasma & OLED

Compared to differences between OLED and LCD, and plasma and LCD, plasma and OLED are a lot more similar. In other words, both OLED and plasma are more alike than are either with LCD.

This means that for most people, you could view either and not notice that much of a difference beyond the price tag.

Both technologies better portray blacks than older tech, both are available in high resolution and large screen sizes, and both can be used for years without suffering color degradation or severe screen burns.

The refresh rate on both plasmas and OLEDs are relatively high compared to older screen technologies, so screen flicker is usually not a problem with either.

OLED vs Plasma: Where the Differences Matter

Where OLED uses organic material to light up the screen, plasma uses ionized gases. The color of an OLED screen fades over time, so it won't last as long as a plasma screen. However, plasma relies on gases inside the screen to light up the images, so you can't use a plasma screen at really high altitudes or the pressure difference between the environment and inside gases damage the set.

Plasma TVs are more susceptible to interference given the ionized gasses. OLED doesn't suffer from this problem, so you can listen to AM radio around an OLED TV without worrying about radio-frequency interference.

OLED technology turns off pixels representing blaCK, so the blacks on an OLED screen are 100 percent black. Plasma screens don't have that level of precision, so blacks aren't as black on a plasma screen as they are on an OLED screen.

Plasma screens are heavier than OLEDs because they are covered in glass, also making them more susceptible to breaking. OLEDs use a thinner protection that makes them a bit more flexible.