Plasma TVs

"Blacker Blacks" ( BUT Grayer Whites )

(2010 Jun blog post)

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This page on plasma TV's ("Blacker Blacks")

The Situation :

I used to 'fall' for the TV ads for plasma TVs that advertised "Blacker Blacks" ... that is, until one day in a Costco store, where I saw lots of LCD TVs lined up on one shelf and lots of plasma TVs lined up on a shelf on another row (the two rows separated by an aisle).

On that day I saw a much greater distinction between plasma TVs and LCD TVs --- a greater distinction than 'blacker blacks'.

When I was standing a few rows (or aisles) away from those two rows I could see all the TVs showing their programming at the same time. The most noticeable difference: The plasma TVs had grayer whites than the LCD TVs.

The whites on the LCD TVs looked bright white. The whites on the plasma TVs looked gray.

This observation was a revelation to me not just about a major difference between the quality of pictures on plasma TVs versus LCD TVs. It was a revelation about the nature of U.S. advertising.

It's Magic :

The advertising revelation: A major strategy in U.S. advertising, in many cases, is to perform like a magician --- get the audience to watch what the right hand is doing with the intent of drawing the audience's attention away from what the left hand is doing.

In the plasma-LCD case, the right hand is Blacks [on a TV screen] and the left hand is Whites [on a TV screen].

What is particularly irksome about these ads is that, in that same Costco display, I could detect no significant difference in the blacks of LCD screens versus plasma screens, while there was a glaring difference in the whites.

To me, it is just another example of the sad state of 'truth in advertising' in the U.S.

I have come to expect that kind of advertising from the pharmaceutical industry and from the late-night-TV people --- and, more recently, from BP (Brutish Petroleum) and their defenders in the oil industry.

To see this kind of advertising coming from an electronic-technology sector too is quite saddening. It seems that wherever and whenever competition heats up, ethics in advertising noticeably disintegrates.

Taken in a grander scope, it is just another example, albeit a milder one, of the amazing number of categories of scam artists, spammers, and sociopaths in the U.S. and in the world. (Link to a blog page on this topic to go here.)

Dealing With The Situation :

To make this blog post something more than a complaint --- that is, to provide some light along with the heat --- I feel a need to propose a possible solution to such advertising.

One problem is that the 'Blacker Blacks' theme is not so much an outright lie as an attempt to distract the consumer from a much more distinctive 'negative feature' of the product.

In fact, the plasma TV manufacturers might be able to point to some technical measurements that verify that blacks are really blacker on a plasma TV --- even though the 'naked eye' would have a hard time detecting a difference.

I like to find 'motivators of good behavior' rather than suggesting more regulations. Regulations are costly to enforce and, in the hands of some of the morally and ethically challenged bureaucrats that seem too often be put in charge of enforcing regulations, there seems to be no lack of examples of 'over-reach' in regulatory processes.

On the other hand, there are many examples of failure to regulate --- either

  • because of not enough resources being funded, or

  • because of collusion of regulators with the members of the industry to be regulated.

For now, my only suggestion would be for people to NOT buy plasma TVs so that the less-than-forthcoming advertisements go away.

Luckily, there are other reasons for not buying plasma TVs, other than the "Grayer Whites".

Plasma TVs are also power hungry. Just hold your hand over the back vents of a plasma TV in a store demo. Compare the amount of heat you feel given off with the amount of heat coming from the vents on an LCD (or LED) TV. You can almost feel the increase in your utility bill --- not just from the electricity consumption of the TV, but also from the increase in your air conditioning costs.

So do yourself a favor. Don't fall for the specious 'Blacker Blacks' advertising. Register your displeasure by not buying a plasma TV. And, at the same time, lower your utility bill while doing something good for our rapidly heating-up environment.

More info :

Here is a link for a WEB SEARCH on the keywords 'plasma tv blacker blacks'.

Amazingly, in 2010, links showed up that not only claim 'blacker blacks' for plasma TVs, but 'whiter whites'. Now this is clearly lying in advertising. There are probably existing laws under which the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) or some other entity (state, if not federal) could prosecute if the product advertisers do not cease and desist.

Regulators merely writing such advertisers a letter asking them to desist is too weak. The advertising abusers should be fined in proportion to the length of time that they have been issuing such ads, starting from the first demonstrable day of such an ad --- say, at least $100 per day for local newspaper ads --- at least $500 per day for national/global-magazine-newpaper-internet ads --- and at least $1,000 per day for national TV ads.

A Postscript :

In reading over this blog post, it occurred to me that Chris Rock (the comedian) would have entirely different visions in his mind from those I express here, if he were to see the terms 'Blacker Blacks' and 'Grayer Whites'. They would probably lead him to some new comedy routines.

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Page was created 2010 Jun 19.

Page was changed 2013 Apr 18.
(Minor format changes.)

Page was changed 2018 Nov 09.
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