A plasma flat panel TV's screen consists of an emissive, self-lighting grid of phosphorescent, gas-filled cells that are stimulated to glow a desired color, while an LCD TV's screen consists of a transmissive, externally-lighted matrix of liquid crystals, rod-shaped molecules that open or close like shutters to selectively allow light to pass through red, green and blue color filters. Plasma TVs produce a better image in low- or moderately-lit rooms, while LCD TVs produce a better image in well-lit rooms.
The cells in a plasma screen are filled with gases such as xenon or neon that are electrically stimulated by tiny electrodes, causing the cells to glow in a manner similar to neon lights. These stimulated cells emanate light at various angles, as opposed to the shutter-like liquid-crystals in an LCD screen, which direct more of the light transmitted through them in a frontward direction. For this reason plasma TVs provide crisper and sharper images when viewed from different angles and are often more well-suited for large rooms with scattered seating.
Plasma TVs are also a better choice for people who desire the smoothest motion during rapid movement on the screen, as when viewing sports programming or playing videogames. LCD TVs resist glare, providing a better picture in well-lit rooms. They consume less power and are typically thinner and lighter than plasma TVs.