Sound Advice Column: Plasma vs. LCD TVs, 120 Hz technology


JVC LCD HDTV with 120Hz technology

Sound Advice
By Don Lindich
Week 4, 2008

Q: I am in the market for a 42-46 inch HDTV. A friend just purchased a 50-inch plasma and is complaining about blurred movement when watching sports. We will use our TV to watch lots of sports as well.

Should I be looking for a 120hz set? Sony and Samsung have some very nice LCD 120hz sets, but I have tended to like the plasma screens I have seen even more (Pioneer KURO especially.) 120hz was commended to me due to the issue of refresh rate which reduces image blur, but it seems to be little in evidence in plasma sets.

I’ve not been able to find a store where I can look at the sets I like best next to one another, nor view them watching fast moving sports, so I am going to have to roll the dice on this one a bit and wanted some impartial input.

We are upgrading from an older, smaller TV, so maybe I should just flip a coin, either way a dramatic upgrade. But I won’t be replacing this set anytime soon and want to make the best long-term decision, since it’s a lot of money.

-Adam Platt, Minneapolis, MN

A: The 120hz feature is currently found on higher-end LCD sets and seems to be a bit of a hit or miss at the moment. In theory, drawing the image twice as frequently as the typical 60hz should reduce motion blur, but because it involves processing the image the implementation tends to be less than perfect. Home Theater Magazine, a publication I have come to greatly respect for being very accurate in their evaluations, recently tested some 120hz sets and weren’t completely thrilled with the results. You can find their coverage online at Their most recent tests have shown JVC to have a very impressive implementation of the 120hz feature, so you may want to check out JVC LCD TVs before you buy.

Reading your comments tells me you still have a bit of shopping and comparing to do before you buy a TV. Though there are a lot of great products on the market when you find the TV you like it should stick out and say, “buy me.” Sometimes you need a bit more information and comparison under your belt before that TV sticks out. It sounds like you may have found it in the Pioneer KURO, and you have a good eye as the Pioneer KURO sets are widely regarded in the industry as the best-looking flat panel TVs you can buy. Whether you see motion blur and if it bothers you is something only you can answer for yourself, but I for one would not hesitate to buy one.

I suggest you seek out an independently owned retailer or specialty shop to help with your decision making process. They have been my top recommendation for years and recent articles by Consumer Reports bear out that they provide customers with a higher level of service and satisfaction compared to big-box stores. Prices are usually the same or lower, as well.

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