First of all you need to learn your HD from your LCD and differentiate between a LCD flat panel and a Plasma flat panel. Most of the current flat panel displays are actually LCD, that is liquid crystal displays. These are generally backlit and have the enormous advantage of being quite thin and relatively lightweight.
Many consumers have now switched over from the older style televisions, a process which requires robust removal men. These older televisions have what's known as CRT screens, or cathode ray tube screens. These were less reliable than the LCD or plasma flat panel screens. It's only after you have the old television taken away that you realise how large your living room actually is. As the consumer demand grew for larger screen sizes the size of the tube grew also, until it took over a significant area. The much thinner LCD or plasma flat panel screens are a boon to interior designers.
While LCD displays tend to be used in watches and calculators and other small items, plasma screens are typically used in large television screens. These actually consist of two glass panels separated by a thin gap filled with a neon gas. The glass panels have a series of electrodes running across them and the technology uses electrically charged ionized gases.
Differences between plasma screens and LCD flat panel displays
One of the key differences is that the plasma screens are made from glass, which reflects more light than a LCD screen. The downside of this is that they can produce glare and sometimes an anti-glare coating is put on the plasma flat panel.
The plasma screens have the advantage of having wider viewing angles than LCD and can produce deeper black colours. On the downside, the plasma screens do use more electricity than the LCD ones.
Next up are the HD screens
The TV screens most commonly seen in retail now are the HD, or High Definition, plasma screens. These flat panel displays usually have a resolution of 1,024 x 768.
In terms of the future of these kinds of technologies, one of the challenges is to increase the energy efficiency, especially given the growing demand for increased size and the tendency for users to leave the devices switched on.
In 2010, the number of plasma TVs shipped globally topped 18.2m. We don't yet have the figures for 2011, but despite the global downturn, this has probably increased again.
What's next for flat panel?
A 2011 technology exhibition in Japan (FPD International) showcased a 3 millimetre thick OLED TV. This is an incredibly thin flat panel screen, and still maintains a really fast response rate with full HD resolution. A slow response rate can result in blurring or distortion of the picture. OLED is another term we better explain here. This stands for organic light-emitting diode, which is a bit of a mouthful. This is a recent technology in which there is a layer of organic semiconductor between two electrodes. Other technologies coming down the line are SED - surface conduction electron-emitter display and also FED, which is field emission display.
The same show also introduced 'invisible glass'. This is a kind of glass that has 99.5 per cent transparency, compared to 92 per cent for ordinary glass. This would reduce the glare and reflections on flat panel screens. The technology giants are kept busy!