Are Plasma screens already on the way out?Mikey 25 comments
If you hadn't already heard last week, Pioneer, easily one of the biggest manufactures of Plasma televisions, has fallen upon economic hardship and consequently . Not only that, Pioneer has also decided to drop out of the Plasma screen game, leaving, as far as I can tell, just Sony, LG, Samsung and Panasonic as the major big wigs to compete in the Plasma market.
If that isn't enough to assist the fate of Plasma, consider that Vizio, the 3rd largest Plasma manufacturers in the US, announced last week that they will cease producing Plasma screens but stick with LCD.
So the question has to be asked: does all this signify the impending death of Plasma?
Looking back both Plasma and LCD have had their fair share of negative stigma, and every time there are a handful or less of competing technologies, only one will be victor, the remainder eventually fading into oblivion. We've seen it with Betamax vs VHS and more recently Blueray vs HD-DHD.
Once upon a time there were significant and obvious differences between Plasma and LCD. Plasma suffered from burn-in due to constant bright pixels, such as a television station logo being constantly displayed on-screen, and LCD was prone to motion blur thanks to typically lower response times. These are of course issues of yesteryear, and today both screens have come a long way to the point that only picture purists can tell the difference from a couple of metres away.
But if anything has been assisting the death of Plasma, it's resolution. Years ago manufacturers reached the smallest possible dimension for a Plasma pixel, which means even today you can not get a Plasma screen below 42 inches, and at a miserable resolution of 1024 x 768 (I feel nauseated at the thought). This means if you want a smaller flat screen for the bedroom, kids or kitchen, LCD is your only option as they can, even at a piddly 17 inches, display more pixels than Plasma and are much cheaper. Combined with desktops and laptops both using the tech, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realise that there is a larger market for LCD screens.
From what I can tell, Plasma has only survived this long because Johnny Sportslover only cares about the physical size of the screen, not the picture quality (higher resolutions), and a 50 inch Plasma has always been significantly less expensive than a 50 inch LCD. I know of a few people who can't even tell me what resolution their screen is, as they only cared that it was cheap and big, but are also aware the picture quality isn't as good as they thought it would be. Not surprisingly they are also not sure if they have a LCD or a Plasma.
Note that that Pioneer are not dropping Plasma, they are dropping out of the TV screen business completely, which they see as unprofitable. If they were LCD manufacturers they would probably be doing the same thing. If we've learned anything from history, it's only a matter of time before either the economic climate or market demand forces other big screen manufacturers make a choice. Keep manufacturing both Plasma and LCD, or choose one that has the greatest demand and forecasted profit. As far as this author can tell, LCD still has the better market potential.
Curiously, as a person who usually takes one side or another when it comes to technology, lately I've been Plasma/LCD agnostic. All I've cared about is I chose the one that goes on to win, which I never know until later. As an early adopter of many technologies in the past I've somehow managed to keep choosing the winner, and I'm happy to say I've never bought Betamax, HD-DVD, LaserDisc, or for that matter, Plasma. Interpret that as you will.
But if I had to put money on it, my bet is that Plasma will join the technology graveyard long before a successor to LCD comes along.