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Euro consumers favour plasma over LCD

Not much in it, though

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Ask consumers which HD TV technology they think delivers the best picture quality and they'll put LCD and plasma on a par. Get them to try the two out first, and they quickly favour plasma. So claimed research company Synovate last week after conducting tests with punters across Europe.

Up front, we should say the research was paid for by Panasonic, Pioneer and Hitachi, all makers of plasma TVs, though Panasonic and Hitachi also offers LCD tellies too.

Synovate sat 1398 consumers down in front of both kinds of displays this summer in London, Cologne, Madrid, Milan and Paris for a look at a 90-second 1080i HD video in conditions that the researcher reckoned "replicated home viewing conditions". Both 42in and 50in sets were used.

Participants were first asked to rate both technologies on eight picture-quality factors: response speed, resolution, sharpness, image depth, viewing angle, contrast, colour and the attribute that traditionally favours plasma, how deep the colour black is rendered. They were then asked to re-score LCD and plasma after having watched both.

Before viewing, 52 per cent of participants favoured plasma, while 48 per cent said LCD was best - essentially neck and neck, Synovate said.

After viewing, the percentage favouring plasma rose to 61 per cent, LCD's share falling to 39 per cent.

Still, the research didn't entirely favour plasma. On many of the individual picture-quality factor tests, while the number of consumers favouring plasma increased after viewing, so too did the number who rate LCD best.

Gains made by plasma were largely from people who before viewing had assumed the two technologies were much the same, or didn't express an opinion on the matter. Some also went on to prefer LCD after viewing.

Still, plasma does appear to have scored best in the key areas of black performance - the percentage of participants favouring plasma on this basis rose from 36 per cent to 70 per cent - and contrast - 36 per cent became 53 per cent. Plasma also rated 53 per cent after viewing for colour quality.

Other factors appear to have been less persuasive, leading us to the conclusion that both technologies have their adherents, and that's not likely to change any time soon. More to the point, these days there's really not an awful lot to choose between the two display technologies.

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