Plasma TV is down, but not out. Hear from custom CE dealers.

Mainstream media (and hence consumers) have taken an interesting stance on “TVs” in recent years. Outside of our “custom CE channel,” it seems the great majority of consumers have and will always think a TV is just a TV – and the cheaper and brighter the TV, the better. Have you heard someone (like my mom) mistakenly refer to all flat panels as “plasmas”? If no one knows the difference, who cares, right?

Lately, there have been a lot of stories about how plasma is on the way out (check out Home Entertainment’s Where have all the plasmas gone?” and PC Mag’sPulling the Plug on Plasma”, among others) due to some major manufacturers abandoning the technology and production cutbacks. I started wondering if plasma was really dead (or dying), and if there was still a need for different types of flat panel displays. Everyone seems to be picking a “winning” and “losing” technology. (I read a comment on a blog the other day that said that plasma displays stink because they are too heavy. It made me laugh. Remind me not to gain weight.) Why does it have to be a blood sport? Isn’t diversity what makes this country great? (wink) Isn’t there an application for both?

In search of answers to the “Is plasma dead?” question, I turned to some of the most successful and well-respected custom installation consumer electronics professionals in the industry, as well as a few industry editors, and asked, “Is there enough demand to keep plasma alive?”  High-end CE dealers think so. And for the benefit of the broader consumer market (like my mom), they share, “What applications plasma displays best suited for?”

Here’s what they had to say… (Note: The comments and opinions below are not those of Caster or reflective of our clients’.)

I hope there is enough demand to keep plasma alive because I can’t stand LCD or LED or any other acronym for a flat panel display. Unfortunately, market demand isn’t what drives availability. [What] drives availability is at the whim of the Japanese and the Koreans. If companies like Samsung and Sony, for example, wanted to really get behind plasma, we’d have a very different marketplace today, but because they got behind LCD, things are the way they are. I hope plasma doesn’t go away, because what will we do then if we want to give our clients a really good flat panel picture?

Plasma displays always have and always will be best suited to those who look for real picture quality. Not the cartoon-like ultra contrasty (is that a word?) silly LED TVs that are all the rage now but true-to-life, color-correct images which get you into the movie, not make you think “wow that’s a good picture.” If one is watching a display and gets carried away at “how good the picture is,” then the manufacturer has ultimately failed because a display is simply a means to an end. The [display] makes you forget the gear and simply gets you into the movie.  Igor Kivritsky, Hi-Fi Centre

Genesis is behind plasma technology. We support and sell it predominately. The higher-end guys will still use plasma technology. Depth of field is way better with plasma. LCD will continue to improve its performance and may very well be as good as plasma one day. Bill Anderson, Genesis Audio & Video

Yes, plasmas should stay alive. Plasmas are for rooms that don’t have a lot of reflective light and for the client looking for the best picture. Chris Burns, CWB Technologies

We still do quite a bit of plasmas and I still think they deliver the best picture quality out of flat panel displays. Public demand is going to be based on how manufactures market LCD vs plasma. Greg Margolis, HomeTronics, Inc.

Sure. As a custom installer, you pick a display based on the room, considering space, application, and a number of other considerations. All technologies have different ‘pluses’ and ‘minuses’ For example, plasma is great for spaces in which you need a broad viewing space or environments with low lighting, but not necessarily for a family that is into gaming. Jeff Mitchell, Robert Saglio Audio Video Designs 

As LCD technology and resolution continue to improve and costs continue to decline, plasma will have a difficult time staying alive.  Plasma’s saving grace is black level, rich color and light output, but again, the masses don’t appreciate these features as much and those who do will likely not be able to support the technology in a large scale.  The ability for LCD to do well in bright rooms with less glare from the screen further challenges plasma marketability. Dave Hunt, Intuitive Integration, LLC

I do think there are applications in which plasmas are applicable to the video market, and they include scenarios in which there isn’t a lot of room for a projector and screen; cost is an overriding factor and which performance is a consideration compared to other fixed pixel technologies and a consumer doesn’t require an upgrade path that includes 2.35:1 home cinema. Bob Archer, CE Pro

I wouldn’t say I’m an expert on the TV industry, but I’d be surprised if anyone builds a new plasma TV factory ever again. I don’t see any enthusiasm for it, except among a few hardcore home theater aficionados. That’s not a big enough market to keep it going. But the inertia created by existing plasma production capacity should keep it alive for a few more years.

(When asked about performance) If you take an average plasma and an average LCD, the average plasma is better. The best of the LED-backlit LCD sets seem to match plasma’s black level. Some of the guys say plasma’s color performance is better, but I haven’t had enough experience with them to say. Brent Butterworth, The Integrator 

I don’t know if there’s enough demand to keep plasma alive, but I sincerely hope so! I much prefer watching a good plasma over almost any LCD in a dark room because of their generally better blacks and punchier picture. However, LCDs do beat plasmas in well-lit rooms because they are brighter and have less reflective screens, which is why they sell better in bright showrooms. Scott Wilkinson, Ultimate A/V

What do you think? Agree/Disagree?

Posted by: Katie | follow me on Twitter

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One Response to Plasma TV is down, but not out. Hear from custom CE dealers.

  1. Freddy McComb says:

    I think Bill Anderson is the most untruthful man I have ever met and his comments should not be trusted or even allowed here. And he is far from respected in the industry – more of a baffon who lost his business and cheated manufacturers, customers, and employees.
    F M

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