The Death of Plasma TV

July 18, 2014
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Did you invest in a Plasma TV? Well, unfortunately, Plasma televisions are already doomed to join the Sony Betamax, the VCR, the floppy disk, the 8-Track and UMD Video in the tech Boot Hill. Sure, even yours truly trilled and warbled over the wonderful Plasma picture of the Samsung PNF8500! Unfortunately, public demand for plasma televisions plummeted 16% in the first-quarter of 2014, according to the Wall Street Journal.

This follows LG Electronics announcement on Monday, July 6, 2014, that they have followed the lead of Panasonic, who quit making plasma TVs in 2013, and Samsung, who pulled the plug on plasma TVs in November 2013.

What happened? Well, LCD TVs came along. Even though their picture isn’t half as good, they are thinner, far more energy efficient and much cheaper. The sudden death of plasma means an incredible success story for cheap LCD technology. In case you’re one of those people who doesn’t like to walk around the showrooms at Best Buy, it’s a tragic head butt in the face for the geeks who only want the best quality products to succeed. No LCD TV has ever produced a picture that comes in the vicinity of close to the quality of plasma TVs.

The Death of Plasma TV

Plasma TVs were the very first flat-panel televisions on the market. Yet, since 2004 they’ve slowly lost ground to the thinner, cooler and cheaper LCD TVs. The truth is that folks aren’t that particular, picture-wise. Size comes first after price. Both Vizio and Samsung took on and destroyed Sony’s place as leader in the market by focusing on flooding the market with cheap sets at the expense of the old-school Sony PR, which stressed image, quality and, dare I say it, integrity.

The handwriting had been on the wall for a long time, however. Some of you may even recall just how drop-dead awesome Pioneer‘s Kuro plasmas were when they hit the market in 2002. The technology was fantastic. I recall watching a soccer game live from London at a consumer electronics show at Chicago’s McCormick Place and being slack-jawed and amazed at the picture quality. Yet Pioneer, who started out making high quality, reasonably priced stereo equipment and should have kept their expectations low and profitable couldn’t compete with the ruthless hucksterism of the Vizio and Samsung sales representatives. Their marvelous television simply didn’t make a profit and Pioneer sold their Kuro technology to Panasonic. Although they are a lot more business savvy, Panasonic and its high-end plasmas were widely considered the best until they quit in favor of LCDs.  Now, in an a typical piece of modern irony, the leftover plasmas in stock are in huge demand with even used 55-inch sets selling for $3,000 and up on Amazon and eBay.

Other models, like Samsung’s F8500 plasmas have also been discontinued. It’s the best TV you can find right now and there’s no chance that anything better will hit the market anytime soon. If you really do care about picture quality and can deal with the wait, your patience will eventually pay off. TV manufacturers would love to sell much more expensive, much higher-resolution 4K sets on you. Yet, even if you can afford to blow $4,000 and up, there’s very little content available for you to watch on your state-of-the-art TVs beyond Netflix series like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. Why buy a high-res TV with no high-res content available?

Still… Sit tight, boys and girls.  New delicious technology is in the works, such as Dolby Vision, which is rumored to be so exact and stunningly bright in its imagery that the experience of home viewing will be altered to the good forever.

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  1. Ivor: what about LED? I thought those are better than plasma. They are fairly cheap now, too. I bought an LCD TV about 5 years ago for 1100 bucks. The same size TV is now available in LED for about 600. It is crazy how much the television market changes year to year.

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