Q: My 65-inch Panasonic plasma TV appears to be on its last legs. What TV of the same size would you recommend for the best picture quality? Flat or curved screen?
A: I know a lot of plasma fans are sad over plasma leaving the marketplace, but if picture quality is your first priority, the situation is not hopeless. OLED, which stands for organic light-emitting diode, is the legitimate successor to plasma, and it is by far the choice for those looking for the best picture quality without compromise.
If I were going to buy a 65-inch TV, OLED is what I would get, no question about it.
I have never been a fan of LCD or LCD-LED televisions, and despite the march of time and technology, I think a lot of the new ones don't look as good with Blu-ray or broadcast television as some LCD TVs I reviewed eight years ago. Plasma improved in quality all the way until the end, when even very inexpensive and basic models provided a beautiful and accurate picture.
In one room in my home I have a 50-inch middle-of-the-line 1080p Samsung plasma that was one of the last ones made. It isn't the biggest or best TV that I own, but I still much prefer watching it to any LCD-based TV I have seen.
I know what most readers are thinking: "How can you prefer the older 1080p plasma to one of those incredible 4K TVs? I have seen them in the stores, and they are incredible!" Sure, it looks incredible in the store when it is playing slow-moving, carefully recorded and edited 4K demonstration material.
But when you hook it up to a cable or satellite set-top box or Blu-ray player, things are not so wonderful anymore. I see inaccurate colors, motion artifacts and unnatural movement on the screen. Parts of the screen look fuzzy, and the contrast is unnatural. On the other hand, my plasma set always looks wonderful, with accurate colors, perfect motion rendition and a lifelike look that LED-LCD cannot match. OLED delivers the picture quality of plasma and then some, including deep, dark blacks and wide viewing angles.
As for curved vs. flat screen, I'd get the flat model. The curved screens can be very appealing, but I am not yet sure if it is a gimmick or if it is here to stay. The flat version is a sure bet, especially given the significant investment involved.
There are a few downsides compared with plasma and LED-LCD sets. The first is the expense. Plasma sets often cost less than competing LED-LCD models, but OLED almost always costs more. Second, OLED is not yet available in sizes above 65 inches except for a few esoteric models with price tags starting around $20,000.
Finally, much like early plasma TVs, OLED sets are susceptible to burn-in if you are not careful. Fortunately, when it does happen, it does not have to be a crippling, long-term problem. Visit tinyurl.com/oledburnin to read about it on reviewed.com.
OLED televisions from LG are garnering the top reviews and are what I would recommend to those who want the best. LG is very devoted to the technology and is doing a wonderful job with it. You can read about them at www.lg.com/us/oled-tvs. If you are forced to go the LED-LCD route for size or price reasons, check out LG, Samsung and Sony.
Send questions to Don Lindich at email@example.com. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.