Plasma survived very much after fully developped LED/LCD Displays. This technology had many limitaitions as compared to today's matured Display Technologies, Atleast now the traditional people will stop getting confused while buying displays between Plasma and LCDs.
Well in electronics industry this is quite common. TV technology has gone through so much change in last 20 years. From crt to plasma to lcd and niw to led is still evolving. My 4 year kid tries to touch the TV screen and see if she can zoom in some portion. May be one day TVs come with touch screen.
Well this was expected from Panasonic, plasma tv market is gone and no one can do business in losses.
This includes the TC-PST60 where CNET says 'The midlevel price and outstanding quality of the Panasonic TC-PST60 series make it our strongest TV recommendation ever.'
If you go to AVSForum.com the videophiles there still swear by Plasma for their superior picture quality. Burn-in is no longer an issue and while they consume a little more power than LCDs power consumption is not so bad now either.
It is a shame that Panasonic are stopping production - their Plasmas are currently the best TV on the market today for those who value picture quality.
Unfortunately Panasonic haven't been able to build a profitable business from this. Most consumers don't value the additional picture quality - particularly the superior blacks, shadow detail and color representation. They are fine with the picture quality and styling of the (super slim) LCDs currently on market. Oh well. Hopefully OLED will match Plasma in picture quality and value soon.
@Philosopher0923, thanks for chiming in. I know there are a lot of experts who love plasma out there.
That said, if you have to be the only one (like Panasonic) to keep investing big $$ in plasma fabs and yet consumers are not seeing the difference (yes, they only care about things like ultra thinness of a display or small 'bezel'), you'd have a very hard time justifying your investment in the business.
Junko - I understand Panasonic weren't able to sustain a profitable business and that's why they are getting out. It is just a shame as they are the best picture quality on the market for 2013 and actually pretty reasonably priced.
Panasonic aren't the only ones making Plasmas - Samsung has a line of plasma TVs (for 2013 not quite as good as Panasonic) but still very good. LG also has a line of Plasma TVs. We'll see how long Samsung and LG continue offering Plasmas.
Junko - I don't doubt that neither LG or Samsung were showing Plasmas at the Korean Electronics Show.
I would imagine they were both highlighting OLED and UltraHD which they probably called 4K (even though it isn't and would be more correctly reffered to as 2160P).
Hopefully affordable OLED TVs will start to appear that match or beat image quality of the 2013 Panasonic Plasmas.
It is ironic that Panasonic are pulling out at the time when their Plasmas are rated as the top 4 TV's in the US market by CNET and with the incremental improvements Panasonic have achieved in the last few years now can be compared to previous picture quality champion - the Pioneer KURO's (also Plasmas).
As mohov0 said the LCD marketing won - ultra-slim bexels with torch modes in showroom displays.
Plasma was initially viewed for having a big advantage (over other panels) for being able to produce bigger screen sized panels...but LCD guys have kept improving their technology and eventually, the screen sizes have become no longer an issue.
I still run into people that insist that BetaMAX should have won out over VHS. I know that I passed on plasma in spite of the darker blacks because of the heat issues that they were having at the time. I'm too old to even pretend to be able to see the subtle differences, much less care about them much. I was alarmed the first time that I saw this reported on CNBC, where it looked like Panasonic was exiting the TV business completely, but it seems that is not the case.
Larry, they will sell their plasma TVs until they clear their inventory, but otherwise, they ARE exiting from the plasma biz. To end its production one year earlier than previously planned is the part that was a big news here.
"I still run into people that insist that BetaMAX should have won out over VHS."
Since you mentioned it, there too, I deliberately opted for VHS. And was relieved to see that the rental places did too.
Why? Because it provided stereo audio and it kept the heads clean during rewind. Way before Beta did. In fact, I couldn't understand how anyone would be satisfied with mono sound, after TV (and of course radio decades earlier) had gonbe to stereo.
So, much like the plasma vs LCD tradeoff, certain things just matter more to me than they seem to matter to others.
The BetaMAX / VHS comparison analogy isn't really relevent.
LCD and Plamsa are just different display technologies for displaying images from the same source material. You pay your money and make your choice. LCD and Plasma can (and did) coexist quite happily in the market for many years. In fact they coexist in my house - I have two LCDs and one Plasma taking everything I can throw at them through HDMI.
With BetaMAX and VHS ( or HDDVD and Blu-Ray) there were two incompatible technologies fighting to develop new markets. One had to win before the new market (VCR or HD disc players) could fully develop. Most consumers weren't going to invest until they knew which standard would prevail in the market.
Your points are well taken, philospher0923. However, I think, Bert's point is not about the format war, but that a certain thing -- certain aspect of any given technology -- is more important to a certain individual than others.
Consumers are finicky.
Moreover, those with golden eyes and golden ears are much tougher to please.
That said, golden eyes and golden ears won't have the final say in terms of what gets popular on the mass market.
In order to win the hearts of mass consumers for TV sets, you need a lot more than a slightly better visual quality. I would hate to say it, but things like "price" get much more important.
Junko - you say 'I would hate to say it, but things like "price" get much more important.'
Absolutely - The 2013 Pansonic TC-PST60 get this review from CNET 'Affordable TV with amazing picture quality'. The only TV this year they give a 5 star rating - yet with prices starting at $1299 (on the CNET site) for a 60" TV doesn't seem unreasonable.
Actually, this conversation is getting interesting. (I need to confess that I too am one of those biased people, firmly believing that plasma has been dead in the last few years....)
But in my own defense, I used to cover really esoteric stuff like merits of an AC plasma display panel -- many moons ago. (In those days, I thought plasma was really a hot stuff, with a real future for large displays)
At any rage, why do I find this conversation interesting? It's because this is presenting a classic example -- how and when one technology dies and loses in the market over another. I don't think it's just marketing. I don't think it's pure R&D matters, either.
There must be a lesson we can all learn from this.
I can only compare this Plasma holdout-edness with the same phenomenon with respect to tube electronics and vinyl records. The proponents will insist that the quality of their favorite technology is leagues ahead of the newer competition.
I think you hit the nail on the head, Junko, when you said that some things are simply more important than others, to different consumers. To me, for instance, it has to be a balance. A system that is inelegant, touchy, or wasteful, is unacceptable, even if the proponents claim that the sound or image quality has no equal.
Oh, and that blade sharpener wasn't dangerous at all. It was all enclosed. A very clever gadget. I think it was made in Switzerland. You moved a handle back and forth, making a clackety clack sound as it sharpened the blade. One of those lasting memeories from very young days.
All the improvements went into LCD, they got lighter and thinner and cheaper. simple. Plasma run way too hot, and tend to fail earlier, LCD is cooler, more reliable. Black levels have improved big time especially when PHILIPS introduced IPS, which they pioneered, and sold it off too.
cedup - unfortunately the LCD improvements in the last few years did not go into picture quality. In fact the argument could be made that todays LCD or not as good as the LCDs from 2 - 3 years ago. Pretty much all the manufacturers have gone to edge lit LEDs and away from local dimming with LEDs set in zones across the display. The result is issues with screen uniformity and blacks levels which are actually worse than before. The focus is on tiny bezels and adding 3D and smart TV features.
A couple of years ago I switched from a 55" local dimming LED/LCD to a 55" 2011 Panasonic Plasma. The Plamsa is actually lighter and certainly does not run hot. Power consumption is higher at about 250 Watts vs 80 Watts for the LCD - but this is a price I am willing to pay for the superior image quality.
I know that many videophiles prefer the image quality of plasma, but there are apparently not enough of them as a percentage of all TV consumers to allow an unprofitable line of TV sets to turn profitable. I wonder how long the big Korean companies will continue to design new plasma models?
As the years progressed I noticed a big improvement on LCD from 1st gen to the latest LED edge lit, 240Hz, and all kinds of ckt improvements over the years to the 3 other LCD generations I got, all Philips made in Mexico at same factory so it was incremental ckt and display improvements. Each one got thinner and thinner, lighter and much much better image. Latest one is superb, has a movie like depth and color saturation, unlike the other 3 older units which are CCFL, without the improved Philips video chips. it makes one of the older one look pretty obsolete. And they all use HDMI. OLED is the next improvemnt super light and thin and better image. Rotary phones are also obsolete. And bag cell phones. Plasma is an OLD technology. They are the incandescent lamp in an LED/CFL lamp world. Even LED lamps are old, OLED lighting is next!
Years and years ago now, I saw one of those very early, tiny LCD TVs, on display at a "Shaper Image" store. I was really impressed. These will be the future of TV, thought I at the time, and I couldn't wait.
Then plasmas became the rage, primarily because they were feasible in large TV-friendly size. But they get hot (aka needs lots of energy), they had burn-in issues, and initially at least, they were not truly HD. It just seemed clear that LCDs would solve those problems handily, eventually. And sure enough, the time came.
Happens all the time in consumer electronics, no? Just like the recordable DVD, and then hard drive recorder, handily took the reins from the transitional VCR solution.
Bert, you are absolutely right about that. It's common to see one technology taken over by another...it happens all the time in the consumer electronics industry.
But here's the thing. If you happen to be the developer, manufacturer and suppler of the technology which once you thought was leading edge and you have thrown a lot of resources at it, deciding to call it quits at the right time must be the hardest thing. You do tend to cling to the ones that you invested so much over time...no?
Heh heh, Junko. Yes, if you happen to be the one to invent whatever it is that's become obsolete, or at least unessential, you do want to hang on as long as possible. And this doesn't just happen to consumer electronics. Maybe the trick is to embrace the new or better solutions before becoming desperate trying to preserve the older ones.
My father used to own a little gizmo with which you could re-sharpen those blue Gillette safety razor blades. A really clever device, which automatically flipped the blade, to sharpen both edges. As I was growing up, it seemed like these devices had been around forever. He finally bought a new one, even, and the guy at the store said they were going out of production.
Someone may have shed a tear on that too. Problem is, starting with the stainless steel Gillette "Silver" blades, the device was no longer necessary. It wasn't up to sharpening the stainless blades. Never mind all the razor generations after the two-edged safety razor, for which it would have been even more useless.
For me, though, plasmas were always too bulky, too heavy, too hot, so I did wait patiently for the LCDs to become feasible for TV. It just seemed like the bette4r solution. Very much like BluRay is a better solution than HD-DVD.
Ha ha, Bert. Your story on the little gizmo "with which you could re-sharpen those blue Gillette safety razor blades" is a good one. I never knew those things existed!
But seriously, when I think about Panasonic's plasma saga, I am struck by the folly of the company's previous management investing in a new plasma fab when LCD was already becoming a mainstream...and it took so long for someone inside the company to point out that the emperor has no cloths.
Sometimes, corporate inertia has such an amazing consequence.
Hi Junko, it wasn't clear in your article as to what happens to the work force that produced the plasma TV products. Are they being retrained or is it another downsizing debacle?
I hold the Panasonic R&D as responsible for not setting & implementing a vision for future products & innovations. Complacency has already cost Panasonic dearly and I hope its does not go down on a path like that of Kodak.
@docdivakar, Panasonic says that they are transferring some in the work force that produced the plasma TV pfoducts to other facilities. They have not said how many would be made redundant.
You're absolutely right about the cost of complacency.
But I am also wondering if the Panasonic R&D should be held responsible for not setting a vision. I am inclined to fault the previous top management who didn't ask tough questions, and didn't make tough decisions. (because every R&D manager wants to keep his pet project...no?)
Double edge razor blades... That reminds me of when I worked for a contractor in high school. We were remodeling a bathroom. It had a metal, in wall medicine cabinet with a slot in the bottom for used blades. When we tore out the sheet rock, thousands of blades fell out on the floor. It was an old house, but I was surprised to find these in the wall.
A progressively poorer US middle class could no longer afford to buy consumer electronics made by well-paid Japanese workers. Then the lower-cost So. Koreans caught up in Consuner Electronics technology just as massive amounts of US manufacturing / free know how was being xferred to China to take advantage of their cheap labor.
But Japan is still competitive for components like the Retina display for the iPhone etc. Instead of trying to maintain strength across the board or market finished branded products like in the past, for a while the Japanese will have to pick and choose areas very carefully and follow a "Intel Inside" type "high value engine" strategy. They could easily dominate hardware and even AI software for robotic housemaids & self - diven cars.
USC educated Prime Minister Abe understands the challenge from China and that Japan can no longer rely on the US for export, perhaps not even for defense. The post WW II system is over for Japan, .
My parents started a video store in early 2000, when VHSs were dominating. Soon after, from sometime in mid 2000s, the store was renting movies in both VHSs and DVDs. My parents realized that when DVDs arrived, the sales started to go down. So they sold the business and started a sushi restaurant instead. The video store? changed to an indian restaurent soon. It took them guts to sell all the assets (for almost 0 dollars.... used movies don't cost that much) that were once valuable. What I am trying to say here is that a technology is very prone to newer technologies, and you need to know whether to keep the assets (patents, equipments etc etc) or let them go.
I recall when you Junko and David Lieberman used to do in-depth analysis articles for EE Times about next-generation display technologies. In those days plasma and LCD were just two of many contenders. Like the x86, LCD just kept coming back, making itself better and taking over more areas.
Even though it was not mentioned in the article, Panasonic has quality control problems with their plasma displays going bad just beyond warranty. At least that is the experience I had with my own Panasonic plasma display.
But those things (technology changes/shifts) never happen in a linear fashion. What's fascinating to me, and I'm sure to a lot of our readers -- both in engineering and management -- is how best to sense, capture and capitalize on the moment when the tide starts to change.
This is redundant, but I'm one of those of the view that the demise of plasmas is at least five years overdue. As aptly noted, sunk cost decision are the hardest, but they can also be the least rational. So even though lots of very cool technology and innovative design went into plasmas, in the long term plasmas simply got outcompeted in the market by very different approaches. The time will come for LCDs also, of course. As also noted here, technologies with OLED-like properties are more likely to carry us into the Minority Report world of active-wall malls and talking cereal boxes. It's worth watching that movie again just to contemplate how magical swishing images seemed before it became an everyday feature of the phones we carry. Remarkable times we live in, indeed.
Many years ago I had the privilege of being a research assistant with NASA while in University. The object of the research was to determine if TV broadcast satellites in geosynchronous orbit could be spaced at 1.5 degree intervals to improve utilization of the resource. We recorded a set of standard MPAA still images mixed with an action movie (synchronized to place vertical and horizontal retrace intervals within the video trace area of the desired image) as the interfering source at various attenuations with respect to the desired content.
These images were then presented via TV monitors to a group of subjects (from the psychology department, of course) and they were asked to rate acceptability of the pictures. The results were quite interesting in that very nearly all subjects found images acceptable with an interfering source attenuated 12dB with respect to the presented image. This validated spacing the satellites at 1.5 degrees, as a twelve foot dish was able to attenuate RF from a satellite 1.5 degrees away by at least 19dB.
What became apparent to me was that most people were interested in the content being presented on the screen, and once someone is involved with the presentation, the actual quality of the image becomes much less important. NTSC video was almost always subject to interference, often by multipath reflections, but also from atmospheric sources and the degeneration of signal caused by distance from the broadcast antenna. Unless the interference is very egregious, most people tend to become "blinded" to it as they engage in the presented content.
Most people would still be watching CRT based television if that were available in the format engendered by the switch to the ADTV standard. The standard was developed in part to try and return margins to the television manufacturers, but it wasn't successful as can be seen by the troubles experienced by the likes of Sony and Sharp and the transformation of RCA into a Chinese held company.
The only driving forces for new technology in television displays is by making it less expensive than the current technology du jour or by legislating it into existance. We would still be watching NTSC video on CRTs if the government hadn't stepped in and mandated the transformation. Most consumers were quite happy with what they had.
I'll leave you with a couple of questions. Do you watch television because of the picture quality, or do you watch it for the content being presented? If everythiing the director includes in a production can still engage you when the image is gracefully degraded by interference, does the interference detract from the experience?
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