Oh No! Not This Again!

We loved them. We cherished them. We truly believed that we had purchased the last TV we would ever need to purchase. That's because picture quality could never get any better. Plasma was awesome! Wow! Look at those black levels.

Then, as they say, time marched on. Technology improved. Market sentiment shifted; people wanted something newer and cooler. Much like the dinosaurs, plasma TVs looked up in the sky and wondered—what's the deal with that huge flaming mass of asteroid hurtling down at me?

Panasonic threw in the towel. Samsung is tapping out. Now apparently LG plasma is also going down in flames. The remaining powerhouse manufacturer is reportedly shutting down its plasma business. Hugo Shin, a product communications director for LG Home Entertainment, said, "We have not decided on the exact timing of discontinuing the PDP, but we believe that this year is the last year to produce the PDP." By the time you don your 2015 party hat, those production lines may already be cranking out curved OLED panels. Or dishwashers, or something.

LG has apparently decided that PDP no longer has any chance against LCD, and is now placing its bets on OLED. LG has dramatically improved its yields on OLED manufacturing and as a result, prices have plummeted. For example, a mere 18 months ago, a 55-inch OLED cost $15,000 and now it is $3,500. With that math, there simply was no place for PDP. Math is hard. And TV math is extra hard. Once the volumes decrease, the costs start to rise, and that makes you uncompetitive. In other words, once a market gets small enough, it implodes. If you were eagerly awaiting LG's announcement of its 2015 plasma lineup, you can stop waiting.

Apparently there was still a market for plasma TVs, for example, in South America; the screens, after all, are very large and very cheap. But that wasn't enough to sustain the business. Also reportedly the company was having difficulties procuring some of the specific components needed to make plasmas. That was probably inevitable; as the market shrunk, suppliers stopped making the bits and pieces. Ever tried to find a rear window for a 1968 Porsche 911 Targa?

Who knows. Maybe some other company will champion the cause, and carry the torch. As far as I can tell, Chinese company Changhong Electric is the last plasma manufacturer left. But if they can't get components either.....

Is the end in sight? More interesting, as we gaze at our OLEDs, will we bother to mourn properly plasma? After all, OLED provides the ultimate picture quality. You'll never need to buy another TV.

mnc's picture

Here's hoping that when I have. To buy a new tv, OLED will not only be affordable, but surpass my plasmas picture quality. I absolutely refuse to purchase anything LCD.

funambulistic's picture

I may have to pick up one of the last plasmas before they go extinct - my beloved Panny is getting a bit long in the tooth...

Markoz's picture

My Panasonic 58" plasma from 2007 quietly clicked off for the last time in the middle of Spiderman II this August. I managed to grab one of the few remaining Samsung F8500 series plasmas (at the time only about 8 left in my province, British Columbia, Canada).

They didn't even have one on display in the store. Bought it on the strength of reviews alone. Had it professionally calibrated (NOT by Geek Squad). What a magnificent picture on this new TV.

I sure hope OLED picks up. I am so not an LCD guy. When I went in to Best Buy to order the Samsung I was surrounded by LCDs. Meh.

At home we have 2 plasmas and one LCD. The LCD sucks.

Electric Ears's picture

I have a LCD HDTV in both of my bedrooms, one is the CFL backlit & the other is LED, both can't hold a candle to the picture quality of my Panasonic plasma in my living room where I watch all my movies. Even laserdisc looks great on a plasma screen! Lucky for me, I bought a "spare" LG plasma set when they were being phased out, still in the box and ready to use when my panny gives up the ghost! I hope they both last a long time...