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They say that NASA spent millions of dollars developing a special pen that would work in space (remember that Seinfeld episode?) while the Russian cosmonauts simply used pencils.

It seems that the same kind of misspending is now happening with big screen TVs – and you lucky readers will learn to save your money. What if I told you there is the equivalent of the pencil out there in the big-screen world? A really sharp pointed pencil that writes really well in fact.

People are currently paying a fortune for big-screen plasma TVs when they could spend a fraction of the amount on an even bigger-screen DLP projector. They choose plasma because they want to show off a super-flat screen to their friends, but there’s nothing flatter than a projected image. In this flatness contest, plasma is definitely the "fat Elvis" of the two.

Additionally, there are no unsightly power cords dangling from the bottom of a projected image – nor are there DVD or VCR cables. You just see the movie; nothing more and nothing less. If you really want to though, you can stick a Sony or Panasonic logo onto your wall just under the image to simulate the plasma set experience. Oh, and don’t forget to reduce the image size while you’re at it. A 200-inch image won’t fool anyone – better reduce it to less than half of that, and maybe draw a box around it. Then people will be impressed by your new “plasma” big-screen TV.

Have you ever noticed the plasma sets hanging awkwardly in various places around the Student Centre? Did you also notice that these relatively new sets have “ghost” images burned into them that you can see even if the sets are off? The reason for this is because plasma sets suffer from a serious problem called “burn-in” in which any non-moving images on the screen eventually become permanent.

Now that may be fine if the image is of, oh, let’s say, Tasha Yar of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I’d be quite happy to see her ghostly image overlapping every movie and TV show I’ll ever watch.

However, it’s far more likely that the permanent image will be the weather forecast after leaving the house with Cable Pulse 24 accidentally left on all day. And don’t play video games too long – you might end up having to get used to seeing a cockpit control panel over all your movies.

As for the DLP projector? Play until your thumbs get numb.

So, aside from saving money, screen size, not having to stare at dangling wires, logos and burn in, are there any other differences? Why yes there are, I’m glad you asked. While a plasma screen is extremely heavy and needs to be professionally installed on a wall due to its sheer weight, a small four pound projector can easily be placed on a coffee table and that’s it. You’re ready to go. In fact, if you feel like it, you can throw it into your knapsack and bring it to your friend’s house. Try that with plasma. Feel like watching a movie on your bedroom ceiling? Hey, it’s a free country – I’m not here to judge – go crazy.

So what’s the catch? As with plasma sets, the image on a DLP projector will eventually fade. When this happens, you’ll have to buy a new bulb. On a plasma set, there is no bulb to replace, because these sets are disposable! How convenient, all you have to do is buy a new one! Better yet, buy a DLP projector.

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