DLP TV vs Plasma TV

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Updated January 23, 2023

If you don’t feel like your newer model LCD or LED TV achieves the same quality as previous TV technology, you might consider a DLP TV vs a plasma TV as a replacement. Although these two products are no longer being made, they were once considered the best TVs money could buy. So if you have ever wondered what is a plasma TV, or what is a DLP TV, continue reading and see how they compare to each other.


  • Brands released DLP televisions in larger sizes and bulkier designs than plasma screens.
  • A plasma TV creates clear motion images with excellent contrast.
  • DLP TVs are not as bright as other TV types.

Aside from the noticeable difference in picture creation technology, you will notice differences in size, clarity, contrast, and brightness. For additional options in more recent televisions, find out more about Dolby Vision vs 4K.

Comparing DLP vs Plasma TV Screens

Digital light processing (DLP) TVs used rear projection with a small mirror chip that reflected light to create the image on the screen. In contrast, a plasma TV used small red, blue, and green phosphor particles to create the picture on the screen. The images produced by these two technologies varied greatly. Alternatively, if you would like to see a comparison of plasma TVs with another technology that is still available today, check out LCD vs plasma TVs.

Insider Tip

A plasma screen comes in smaller sizes, perfect for small spaces.

Read on to find out more about the differences between a plasma screen and DLP TV, including the available sizes, contrast, clarity, and brightness. When selecting a new TV, you should also consider the ideal distance to a TV vs its size.


You used to be able to find larger DLP TVs than plasma models when it came to screen size. Because of the rear-projection system in DLP devices, most of these units had thick, bulky backs instead of slim flat panels like plasma screen TVs.

Plasma TVs rarely surpassed 65” in screen size, though one model developed by Panasonic was a 125” TV. However, the average plasma TV size was about 42”, much smaller than the 70” or larger DLP models and many other TVs made today.


Both plasma screens and DLPs offered natural colors and deep blacks for a higher contrast ratio. However, plasma technology provided higher contrast within the dark areas of the television. Because of this feature, many viewers preferred the image on a plasma screen.

Additionally, a DLP model appears dim when you sit towards the side of the television. So, if a group of people watched a show together, everyone did not see the same image. Those sitting on the side lost contrast ratio consistency at a certain viewing angle.


During their heyday, viewers widely adored plasma screens for their picture quality. The excellent contrast helped create clear images, but they also had smoother motion than their DLP counterparts. As a result, sports and other fast-moving pictures appeared clearer.

The downside to the plasma screen that DLP did not experience is image retention or burn-in while plasma did. If you left a plasma screen on the same image for a significant period, the screen retained the image for a while afterward, though more recent models did not experience as much burn-in.


The plasma systems produced brighter images than those of a DLP television. This light was still darker than an LCD or LED TV because of the technology used. A DLP TV needed a darker room to see the picture adequately. As you would guess, a higher brightness would use more power than a lower brightness. And if you are concerned with energy efficiency, you may want to check out the comparison of projector vs TV power consumption.


A DLP TV image suffers in bright rooms, so make sure you have decent blinds or curtains.


Do DLP TVs still exist?

Manufacturers no longer produce DLP TV systems for the market as of 2012, but you may be able to purchase a used rear-projection television.

Are plasma screens still made?

Plasma television production halted in 2014, though some are still available on the resale market.

How long do DLP TVs last?

DLP lamp life ranges from 1,000-7,000 hours, which could be several years. However, the total length of time you can use a DLP TV without replacing the lamps depends on your TV viewing habits.

STAT: Plasma screens are made of two sheets of glass with two gasses stored between them. (source)

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