Television

Consumers prefer plasma TV sets to LCD: Synovate

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MUMBAI: Seeing is believing! While there is debate the world over about which television technology is superior -Plasma or LCD a study by Synovate in Europe has thrown up insights.

Consumers in Europe significantly prefer plasma TVs over Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) sets after viewing in home conditions.

The study, conducted by global market research company, Synovate, is the first ever European research into consumer preferences in medium to large-screen television sets.

The margin was almost two to one in favour of plasma screens, with 73 per cent of respondents who viewed a side by side comparison rating plasmas as providing the ’best image quality’ ahead of LCD (27 per cent).

The Synovate study, conducted in the UK, France and Germany, asked consumers which screen provided the best overall image quality for the following criteria: sharpness, colour, response speed, contrast, black quality and resolution. The study was commissioned by Panasonic and Pioneer.

Plasma takes the lead The results reveal a clear favour for plasma. 61 per cent of consumers felt plasma screens provided the best sharpness experience, compared to 21 per cent who preferred LCD.

When it came to consumer perception of colour, response speed and contrast, 65 per cent of consumers deemed plasma screens to have the best colour quality compared to 24 per cent who favoured LCD.

Similarly, plasma screens were voted as providing the best quality for response speed by 62 per cent of consumers, with LCD scoring 15 per cent. Nearly a quarter of respondents believed both technologies provided a similar performance.

Plasma screens once again lead the way with contrast quality. 61 per cent of consumers tested believed plasma had the best contrast performance, compared to 26 per cent for LCD.

The reproduction of black is of pivotal importance to the overall viewing experience. Before seeing the video sequence, plasma was deemed to have a slight lead (37 per cent to 30 per cent for LCD), while a third of people felt that both formats provide similar black performance. After seeing the comparison, the majority of people who felt that the ’best black quality’ is created by plasma shot up to 72 per cent.

Synovate research director Yves Robeet says, "We have been watching the television market for some time and there is no doubt that buying a new TV is a confusing decision for consumers. This is partially due to the arrival of new broadcast technologies like HD and digital as well as the heavy promotion of LCD and plasma by manufacturers and the ongoing technical debate between media and analysts about which is the best technology. This research is designed to make the process much easier by asking consumers what they think."

Synovate canvassed 603 consumers and executed the study under certified home viewing conditions. Two groups were established. The first, with no prior knowledge of plasma and LCD, were simply asked to express their preferences after watching a 90 second video sequence played side by side on LCD and plasma displays (with their brand names covered) in three presentation suites. All respondents rated the experience using TVs in the 37-inch (XGA PDP and XGA LCD), 42-inch (XGA PDP and 1080p LCD) and 50-inch categories (both 1080p).

The second group, who claimed to have knowledge of plasma and LCD, were asked before the comparison to reveal which format they believed provided the ’best overall quality’ and to reveal their initial preferences for plasma or LCD in several feature categories, including resolution, image depth, colour and black tone. These benchmarks were used to track changes in perceptions after the video sequence had been viewed.

Initially, no preference was expressed in either Germany or the UK for overall image quality though French respondents expressed a preference for plasma.

After watching the content, however, the whole group was asked the same question. Sentiment swung sharply in favour of plasma: 73 per cent of people rated plasma as the superior performer in image quality compared to 27 per cent for LCD.

Robeet adds, "The research replicated the typical viewing conditions found in the home and produced very clear results. This suggests that retailers might consider researching the conditions in which customers watch their TVs to provide a similar environment in-store to compare performance in a life-like situation; after all, the viewing environment and the type of content people watch should dictate model choice more than any other factor."

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