The Wall Street Journal shows the limits of its HDTV knowledge

I can't really argue with some aspects of a new Wall St Journal story titled "Lower Price Tag for Plasma TVs Comes at Price, but if you already have some knowledge about HDTVs, don't expect much illumination from the article.There are several minor gaffes and omissions that add up to an unsatisfying piece.

I can't really argue with some aspects of a new Wall St Journal story titled "Lower Price Tag for Plasma TVs Comes at Price, but if you already have some knowledge about HDTVs, don't expect much illumination from the article.

There are several minor gaffes and omissions that add up to an unsatisfying piece. For one thing, though the writer points out that the average price for a 50-inch plasma is about $300 less than a 50-inch LCD TV, there's no mention of the fact that LCDs are sold as 52-inch sets, not 50 inchers like plasmas. There's also an oversimplification of the benefits that higher refresh rates have for LCDs: Higher rates don't automatically equal "better picture quality," and there's no explanation of the 240Hz rates being tailored to improving the video quality of fast-moving action. Or that plasmas generally suffer less from this problem—which is why LCD manufacturers have had to improve their judder-reduction techniques.

The article also talks about improving LCD contrast ratios without including two key details: 1) most LCDs still can't touch plasma's black-level performance, which is why critics consistently prefer plasma picture quality, except for 2) LED-backlight LCD sets, which actually have high enough contrast ratios to compete with plasmas. It does mention that plasma manufacturers have worked to reduce the weight and power consumption of their sets, but other criticisms seem to die hard: One consumer interviewed said he was shying away from plasmas because he was afraid of burn-in, even though it's become extremely rare.

The bottom line is that the article suggests the only reason you'd really want a plasma is for the lower price. But just take a look at the TV reviews from our sister site CNET, and you'll see that plasmas routinely outperform LCDs. So what's the "price" you pay? Apparently that your decision to grab the superior technology at a better price flies in the face of the majority of consumers who are buying LCD sets instead.