After hours of research and testing, we decided that the Samsung PN51F8500 51-Inch 3D Smart Plasma HDTV was the best plasma TV, all things considered. While this was our pick, we also understand that that may not be your pick. Instead of creating something to give you a recommendation, we’ve instead put together a guide that will allow you to not only see what plasma TVs are the best on the market right now, but it will also teach you how to find the best plasma TV for yourself and your individual needs.
We offer advice and knowledge from experts who were able to test these TVs and decide for themselves whether they liked them. It took a lot of research before we even decided on which TVs we should test. After testing, we were able to come up with a list of contenders, decided on a budget alternative, and much more.
What to Look for in a Plasma TV
While we put together a list of rules and preferences for deciding on what we thought was the best plasma TV, there is more to looking for a TV than that. When you’re trying to figure out what to look for in a plasma TV if you’re starting from scratch, here are a few tips that will at the very least get you in the right direction.
You really want a plasma TV that’s going to be the right screen size for a plasma TV. Usually, the range is between 42 inches and 65 inches. Using this range, you can find a plasma TV that meets all of your other preferences and wanted features. While this is the recommended range for the majority of plasma TVs, it is not the absolute rule. On the contrary, you can actually find a plasma TV that’s bigger that provides the same quality, which is why we have a TV on the list that’s over 80 inches.
The thing that a lot of customers forget when they’re buying a TV is that they don’t just have an option for the screen – they have options for the audio, too. Most plasma TVs come with speakers that are already built-in, measuring 10X x 10X. Some do come with speakers that you’re going to have to move around the room appropriately and position it yourself. It’s based on preference as to which audio option you walk away with, but remembering that the option is even there is the most important part. If you do get a TV with built-in speakers, you have the option of upgrading or choosing from the start 15X x 15X speakers.
You’re going to see a variety of different resolution sizes when comparing plasma TVs. HD is becoming the new standard, but not all TVs have HD or are HD-ready as of yet. You have the option of saving some money and getting a TV that works at a lower signal, such as 720p. You have the option to get a plasma TV that’s 1080i, which isn’t true HD, or you could get one that is true 1080p resolution. Whichever you decide on, the resolution plays into the overall price and image quality of your plasma TV, so both of those factors will need to play into your choice.
There are a variety of different ways you can find the best plasma TV for you. You may be focused on the picture quality, so you need a TV that has the crispest, most beautiful picture on the market. You may be looking for a TV that also offers good sound, so that you can enjoy your movies with your eyes and ears. Whatever you decide on, now you know that the option is out there.
How We Picked the Best Plasma TV
After the research and testing was complete, we put together a list of variables, preferences, and features that we wouldn’t want to live without in a plasma TV. It was a little difficult to find a plasma TV that actually met all of the specifications we had set, but the Samsung PN51F8500 51-Inch 3D Smart Plasma HDTV passed with flying colors. Here’s how we decided on the best plasma TV.
Having a plasma TV is nice, but having a plasma TV that can give you recommendations, allows you to speak into a mic to control it, or just a TV that offers more features than a basic TV is nicer. That’s why we examined all of the features that each plasma TV comes with. If it only has one or two accessories or add-ons that separates it from a basic TV, we ruled it out. Instead, we only looked for plasma TVs that offered the works.
Our Pick for the Best Plasma TV
Samsung PN51F8500 51-Inch 3D Smart Plasma HDTV
There are a lot of plasma TVs on the market that compare to the top picks on our list, including our number one choice. With how many TVs there are available on the market, it’s no surprise that we had a detailed list of variables to use in order to fully narrow down our search. When we were using that particular list, the Samsung PN51F8500 51-Inch 3D Smart Plasma HDTV met all of the required preferences, options, and features that we were after.
How a plasma TV is doing for other customers that have already bought the product plays into which one we’re going to consider the best plasma TV, as we mentioned. That means that we take a close examination of the reviews and ratings an item has before we consider even adding it to the list of potential contenders. The Samsung PN51F8500 3D Smart Plasma HDTV gave us the confidence we needed to test it out and see if it could be our number one. We were not disappointed.
When we started testing this handy HDTV, we were impressed with the built-in Smart Mic that will allow you to ask for TV recommendations and much more. It has a Smart Touch Remote for the TV, as well, which allows you to use simple gestures and swipes to navigate throughout the various Smart Hub content panels. It runs at 600Hz with a beautiful 1080p HD resolution, with 3D capabilities for the ultimate movie and TV show watching experience.
The intuitive Real Black Pro Filter is specific to this particular TV. It allows for enhancements to make the picture on the screen have a higher quality image. It makes the blacks deeper, the colors bolder and brighter, and it offers a higher contrast in order to reduce light reflection. While we liked the fact that you can get a 51-Inch model, we also liked that you can get a 60-Inch or even a 64-Inch model if you opt to.
Another benefit of going with the Samsung PN51F8500 3D Smart Plasma HDTV is the 60-day tech support that you get for free when you purchase this particular HDTV. From the date of delivery, you have a 60-day advanced technical support team ready and waiting on you. They’ll help you configure, set up, connect, and fix any issues you have with your TV when it’s time to hook it up for the first time. They’ll take you through the entire journey from start to finish, saving you on labor costs for an install man to come out and do it for you while also ensuring nothing goes wrong.
In conclusion, the Samsung PN51F8500 3D Smart Plasma HDTV is our number one choice because it met all of the preferences that we had set up ahead of time. Thanks to the list of requirements that we created before we started looking for a TV, we were able to find the best plasma TV for our specific needs.
Our Second Pick
LG Electronics 60PN6500 60-Inch Plasma HDTV
You can get nearly twice the pixel resolution and overall picture quality with the 1080p resolution that comes with the LG Electronics 60PN6500 60-Inch Plasma HDTV. Powerful, capable, and advanced for being the 2013 model, this particular HDTV.
It’s got an excellent enough quality to come very close to number one, but the price tag routed us in place. We resolved this by selecting it for our second pick. For those that are willing to spend the extra dollar on something that’s going to last them for years to come, the LG Electronics 60PN6500 60-Inch Plasma HDTV is an expense that’s absolutely worth it.
The 600Hz and 1080p technology makes the picture on the TV virtually blur-free. You can get the picture you actually paid for, see every drop of sweat, strand of hair, and more. It’s recommended for watching sports or action movies or playing video games thanks to the technology that prevents motion blur, allowing you to see exactly what’s happening every second on the screen.
Other features include something that’s going to be very helpful on your wallet long term. The Smart Energy Saving features that come with the LG Electronics 60PN6500 60-Inch Plasma HDTV allow you to be wise about your viewing experience without ever having to be wasteful. This allows you to not only conserve valuable energy, but it also saves you money on your bill.
Best of all, the LG Electronics 60PN6500 60-Inch Plasma HDTV offers a 60-day advanced technical support offer just like the Samsung PN51F8500 3D Smart Plasma HDTV, making it possible to get everything hooked up and connected yourself. You save money on an install man this way, too.
All in all, we really liked this TV. For those that have a bit more to spend than what was in our budget for the number one pick, then the Samsung PN51F8500 3D Smart Plasma HDTV is a great option. You get tech support and you get to save money on your electric bill for the many years that you’ll have this TV, so you do get back a little of what you spend over time. It’s worth it to those who have the change to put away for it.
Budget Plasma TV Pick
Samsung SPN4235 42-Inch Widescreen Plasma Flat-Panel HD-Ready TV
On the opposite spectrum of purchasing plasma TVs, we understand that not everyone is going to have all the money in the world to spend on just this one item. That’s why we have specific budget options, so that you can have an alternative that’s more within your budget and price range.
A budget alternative section is especially important for plasma TVs, since they’re not a cheap item as it is. That’s why the Samsung SPN4235 42-Inch Widescreen Plasma Flat-Panel HD-Ready TV, stands proudly as our budget option.
The extraordinary 1,200:1 contrast aspect ratio is what initially caught our eye with this more affordable alternative. What had us stay was the fact that it accepts 720p and 1080p resolution signals, scaling them down to 480p to fit accordingly onto the screen. There’s also an NTSC dual-tuner that has a split-screen PIP. This means that you’ll be able to watch two programs, shows, or movies simultaneously.
The high-quality image and exemplary speaker outputs for the Samsung SPN4235 42-Inch Widescreen Plasma Flat-Panel HD-Ready TV are what make it a viable option. For those that don’t have that much to spend on a plasma TV, this is a choice that allows you to stay within your budget range while still not just sticking with the most basic option. You get a name brand TV that already comes with a variety of features and options that make it an excellent plasma TV.
Sometimes, you need a particular type of plasma TV that can go the extra mile. Whether you’re looking for one that is specifically designed to fair better in higher altitudes, brighter rooms, or something else entirely, we’ve tried to compile a list of reasonable possibilities that you may be in search of. This allows you not only to see the specialized options for each category, but it also allows you to see the differences in certain plasma TVs to make them the best option for a certain category. These are the specialized picks for comparable plasma TVs to our number one choice.
Best Plasma TV with 3D Capabilities
Mitsubishi WD-82742 82-Inch 3D DLP Home Cinema HDTV
While there are plasma TVs with 3D capabilities, there are none that have that feature stand out front and center quite like the Mitsubishi WD-82742 82-Inch 3D DLP Home Cinema HDTV. You can get a 92-inch or a 73-inch model, instead, but we went with the 82-inch because of all the specific features for this size. The built-in 3D emitter is just the beginning, with advanced video calibration to keep pace with it. It even has an impressive 6 color processor with a 120Hz sub-frame rate that’s intelligent and capable. It’s wireless, so it’s capable of connecting to the Internet without any annoying cables or cords.
Best Plasma TV for Bright Rooms
Pioneer Elite PRO111 FD 50-Inch Elite Plasma HDTV
It’s known that plasma TVs don’t often do well in bright rooms. Because of their high contrast ratios, most plasma TVs simply don’t look as good in an especially bright room. To resolve this issue, the Pioneer Elite PRO111 FD 50-Inch Elite Plasma TV has an unmatched contrast, with the ability to accept all resolutions up to and including true 1080p 24FPS signals. Most people in search of a good plasma TV that also does fairly well in bright rooms find the Pioneer Elite PRO111 FD 50-Inch Elite Plasma HDTV to be the best option.
Best Plasma TV for High Altitudes
Panasonic TC-P60U50 60-Inch Plasma HDTV
It may seem strange, but many plasma TVs are actually unable to work at higher altitudes. This is because the glass is pushed ever so slightly because of the lack of pressure and the thinning of the air, which causes the noble gases sealed in the plasma to expand. Fortunately, some brands are rated for working at higher altitudes than others. Panasonic is one of these brands, and their Panasonic TC-P60U50 60-Inch Plasma HDTV is an excellent option for anyone at a higher altitude looking to invest in a plasma TV. The 600Hz sub-field drive and the Game Mode feature tacked onto the affordable price tag makes this particular HDTV an excellent find.
Best Plasma TV with Wall Mounts
Samsung PN51F4500 51-Inch Plasma HDTV
The Samsung PN51F4500 51-Inch Plasma HDTV comes with a removable stand, so you can decide for yourself whether you want it mounted to the wall or not. If you opt not to mount it to the wall, or you just need it in a better location for an event or party, the stand gives it extra depth and height that becomes invaluable to some. This is a team favorite in our book, which is why we had to include it in this guide. The 600Hz refresh rate makes it recommended most for video games, sports, and action movies or shows, offering blur-free technology that’s dependable and capable.
Best Plasma TV and Computer Monitor Combo
50-Inch HD Plasma Display
The 50-Inch HD Plasma Display from Pioneer works as an HDTV and an HD computer monitor. You can see all of the action in crisp detail, whether you’re playing Minecraft with the display hooked up to your computer tower or you’ve got it connected to the Xbox One to enjoy a show on Netflix or Hulu. The pixel pitch, contrast ratio, and impressive 1280 x 768 resolution makes it a contender for the top. It’s definitely a recommended purchase for someone who’s looking for a TV and a computer monitor all in one.
While there are specialized picks that we feel are the best plasma TV for a certain category, there are also contenders for the number one spot that are good for certain categories, too. The competition for the number one spot still deserved a mention, which is why we have this section dedicated to it.
Best Plasma TV for the Picture
Akai PDP4273M 42-Inch Plasma HDTV
When you’re trying to get the most out of the image that comes on a TV, the Akai PDP4273M 42-Inch Plasma HDTV is one of the top-rated contenders. Not only does it have an impressive contrast ratio of 3,000:1, but it also has a beautiful 1024 x 1024 native resolution. The wide-viewing angle that goes out to 160-degrees allows for various installation configurations so that you can get the most out of your individual viewing pleasure. The High Luminance Plasma Display is a feature that offers a brighter picture with every show, movie, and video that you watch on the Akai PDP4273M 42-Inch Plasma HDTV. This plasma TV is the best for the color depth you’re going to get with it.
Best Plasma TV for Gaming
Panasonic VIERA TC-P60ST50 60-Inch Full HD 3D Plasma TV
The Panasonic VIERA TC-P60ST50 60-Inch Full HD 3D Plasma TV has a removable stand that gives it additional height and depth. The full HD and 3D capabilities of this plasma TV, along with the convenience of a built-in web browser, an easy connect Wi-Fi app, and a refresh rate of 600Hz make the Panasonic VIERA TC-P60ST50 60-Inch Full HD 3D Plasma TV a favorite. This is truly a TV for that gamer in your life, offering a crisp, bright picture that never blurs.
Best Plasma TV for the Value
LG 50PV450 50-Inch Plasma HDTV
While we already showed you what our budget alternative was to the best plasma TV on the market, there is one that comes close to meeting that price range. That’s why the LG 50PV450 50-Inch Plasma HDTV is the best plasma TV for its value. It’s got an excellent 600Hz sub-field drive and an astounding 3,000,000:1 contrast ratio. You’ve never seen a crisper image than this, especially for the price you’re getting it for. Not only that, but you can easily just connect your USB device straight to the TV for a wide array of videos, images, music, and much more. It even has a self-calibration element that levels out the black, color, sharpness, backlight, and tint of the overall image.
Commonly Asked Questions About Plasma TVs
There are some questions you may have about plasma TVs that has so far gone unanswered. We’re working to improve your overall TV watching experience, so it’s important that you get all the answers you need before purchasing a TV. That’s why we have a dedicated section for a list of questions we were able to compile that customers frequently ask before moving further in the buying cycle.
What are the Advantages to Plasma TVs Over LCD or LED TVs?
The two other most popular types of TVs are LCD and LED TVs. Plasma TVs have two well-known advantages over other types of TVs:
1. They typically come with a better price range, especially when you’re getting above 50-inch screen sizes for the TVs. The range for plasma TVs is simply more affordable and cost-effective than other types of TVs.
2. They’re typically able to offer deeper blacks on the color spectrum. Plasma TVs are capable of providing deeper black shades than most LED TV or LCD TV counterparts.
How Long Do Plasma TVs Last?
When plasma TVs first started rolling out on the market, they had an average half-life of 30,000 hours – that’s 1,250 days of consecutive use. Now, thanks to technological advancements and improvements, plasma TVs have an average lifespan of 60,000 hours, with some rating as high as over 100,000 hours. For a TV rated to have a lifespan of 100,000 hours, that means that if you kept it on and left it on indefinitely, you would get 10 years of acceptable viewing pleasure before you would need to get a new TV.
What’s a Reasonable Screen Size for a Plasma TV
While we did list a variety of difference TV sizes, you may be wondering if there’s an appropriate size for a plasma TV or not. It is up to preference, but it is important to note that any TVs under 32 inches are considered LCD monitors instead of plasma TVs at that point. Base this decision mostly around the size of the room or viewing area you’re going to have for your plasma TV. Remembering that the size of the screen is measured diagonally across, find a size that you feel confident will fit into a wall or comfortably in the room you have planned for it.
Wrapping It Up
In conclusion, it’s easy to see that there are a lot of plasma TVs to choose from. It’s also easy to see that there’s a lot to learn about plasma TVs and TVs in general before fully understanding the best way to find the one you want. We were able to gather information, collect data, and deliberate until deciding on the Samsung PN51F8500 51-Inch 3D Smart Plasma HDTV as our pick for the best plasma TV. That may not be everyone’s choice, but this guide allows you to decide that for yourself. Whether you go with one of our other recommendations or a different plasma TV altogether thanks to the tips and advice we offered, the important thing is that you’ve walked away with a new set of skills.
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.