Why Did Plasma Die?
published onFebruary 7, 2014

Are you considering a new HDTV screen for your home theatre? If you’ve been researching options, you may have read a bunch of articles proclaiming the “death” of the plasma screen. It’s true that Panasonic stopped producing plasma screens last December and will stop selling screens to retailers this March. But if you’re in the market for plasma, you still have choices from top HDTV manufacturers like LG and Samsung.

Here at JD Pro, we’ve often touted the benefits of plasma over LED for your home theater system or living room. Were we wrong? We don’t think so, and many display experts agree with us. But plasma manufacturers couldn’t shake the overall consumer perception of LED-backlit LCD screens being the latest, the greatest, and superior technology to plasma. Market research firm DisplaySearch reported that only 6 percent of overall TV sales worldwide were plasma screens in 2013, with 87 percent of sales LCD HDTVs.

Plasma manufacturers couldn’t shake plasma’s earlier bad wrap. Early models, although a status symbol for early adopter home theater enthusiasts, had several drawbacks:

  • Burn-in if an image was left on the screen too long – a big issue for those watching television with a station’s logo in the bottom right corner
  • Big, bulky, heavy screens
  • Not as energy-efficient as the first LCDs introduced

In many regards, earlier LCD screens just beat plasmas, hands-down. In recent years, of course, that is no longer true. Plasmas rival LED-backlit LCDs in energy efficiency, and actually are superior in viewing angles and contrast ratios. You can still get a larger screen for a lower price, too.

Apparently, that wasn’t enough to convince Panasonic to keep producing their screens, because, ultimately, if people aren’t buying what you’re selling, it’s time to move on. And six percent in sales is pretty definitive. The market has spoken. Ultimately, plasmas are just not the newest technology, and home theater enthusiasts tend to look for the next best thing. (Cases in point? OLED screens, curved televisions and 4K resolution.)

Where do we stand on this topic? Like so many other video experts, we’re shedding a few tears for plasma’s death. And we’ll continue to specify LG or Samsung plasmas when they fit our customers’ needs and preferences for as long as they’re available. In fact, if you ask us today, we’re still going to tell you a plasma monitor is your best value for the money for your home theater system.

Consumer Reports recently asked the question: Should you buy a plasma screen now?

Given that Panasonic screens may be nearly impossible to find by the end of the year, and consumer choices for other brands might be limited and that a limited supply may actually drive prices up, we’d say yes. If you want plasma, now’s your best chance.

Of course, if you can hold off on a new HDTV for a while longer, some compelling choices in OLEDs, touchscreens and gesture control models could be reaching accessible price points for most consumers. Not yet, mind you. But possibly soon. The question is: Do you want your new plasma to enjoy right now? There will always be something better around the corner, but nothing is better than the screen hanging in your family room right now, where you can enjoy all your favorite movies and shows.

Now, if you need some help mounting your new HDTV screen or designing a complete, custom home theater system, contact us today. Again, why wait? Live in the moment, that’s what we believe.