(May 12, 2009) Despite plasma’s superior picture quality and lower large screen pricing, many tech writers like New York Times columnist David Pogue who recently wrote that plasma is “on the way out,” consider it a dying technology  Are they correct?  Or are they in need of a fact transfusion? To get the answer, the HD Guru® asked for input from executives of the three plasma panel makers: LG, Samsung and Panasonic.

Below are the questions and the emailed responses, published in their entirety.

LG’ s reply is from Tim Alessi, Director of Product Development, LG Electronics USA.

David Pogue of the NY Times recently wrote “it looks like plasma is on the way out”  Does LG concur with his statement?

Nope. Plasma will continue to be a viable technology for flat-panel displays in the near- to mid-term future. Plasma continues to be the technology of choice for home theater enthusiasts, sports fans and consumers desiring a larger screen size.  These consumers are some of the most discerning, and they appreciate the strengths of plasma such as deeper black levels, rich color reproduction, smooth motion and wide viewing angles.

How do you see the present and future of plasma HDTV technology?

Industry wide, over 60 new models of plasma are being introduced to the market this year.  LG will include some of our newest technology in plasma sets, technology such as advanced design, NetCast Entertainment Access for connection to a wide array of Internet-based content and THX-certified displays.  While its growth has seemed to flatten out in total, plasma continues to show strong demand in large screen sizes.  In 2009, we estimate that plasma will account for more than 40 percent of the 50-inch and larger screen size sales.  That unit volume will probably continue for at least the next 3 ~ 4 years.

Are you doing anything to counter the assertions of the death of plasma HDTV by Pogue, PC Magazine and others?

We continue to work with our retail partners to promote plasma.  LG is a founding member of the Plasma Display Coalition, which is the voice of the plasma industry to promote its attributes as well as combat misinformation that arises, including some of the outrageous power consumption claims raised by some NGOs (Non Government Organizations-Ed.) and agencies.  The most tangible thing we do to deal with the rumors of plasma’s demise is to keep introducing new and improved products each year, which we expect to continue to do for the foreseeable future.

Panasonic’s response is from Bob Perry, Executive Vice President, Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company.

In today’s world, there are two primary display technologies used in televisions LCD and PDP.  LCDs, which have used in displays for decades, and a newer technology. Plasma, which has been available for about 10 years in commercial quantities for televisions.  And both are doing quite well, and Panasonic produces televisions with both technologies.LCD, as a mature technology are manufactured by a number of manufacturers, both large and small.  And recent strong worldwide growth in LCD television sales has been primarily fueled by the transition from CRTs. So, from Panasonic’s standpoint, how do we view the market for these display technologies?

We clearly see in the industry numbers that LCD growth, particularly in the US market, has leveled off, and its growth rate is slower than the growth rate of PDP.  PDP, used principally in larger displays, continues to show growth as consumers in the US shift to larger displays (50″+), and as PDP, a fairly immature technology from a cost perspective, continues to show improved cost effectiveness.  We expect this trend to continue.  We expect larger PDP televisions to be marketed, and we expect to see continued improvements in cost effectiveness, particularly in larger screen sizes.

In terms of the worldwide output capacity of LCD and PDP, both are growing.  PDP has been historically manufactured in high volume by three companies, and this situation is the overall market today.  None of the these companies has indicated any intention or plan to reduce PDP output capacity, and Panasonic specifically will be bringing a new PDP factory on line later this year, and a new LCD factory later next year.  We believe both technologies offer unique benefits and performance characteristics, and will be produced in high-quantity for years to come.

Plasma is clearly not on the way out, the future is bright and growing, and fortunately, consumers research and buy what they like, what their neighbors own, and what makes sense to them from a value perspective.

Samsung’s response is from John Revie, Senior Vice President of Visual Display Marketing, Samsung Electronics America.

Plasma is an important part of the Flat Panel industry, representing approximately 30% of the 40 inch  market and 50% of the 50″+ market.Plasma TVs provide the consumer great picture performance and value. As such we will remain committed to this technology and continue to make capex (Capital Expeditures-Ed.)and R&D investments to improve our production capability and product design. We believe with the current manufacturers in the industry and the picture/performance of the technology, consumer’s confidence in the technology will remain strong.

For 2009, Samsung is introducing six new high performance Plasma TVs that feature better picture quality, slimmer and lighter design as well as advanced connectivity to content.

New, brighter, higher contrast with our new “E-panel”.  Plasma TVs using this new panel meets Energy Star standards for active power ratings without sacrificing picture quality.
New slimmer and lighter weight design across the entire line up.  The depth of the new 8 Series is 1.2″, a huge decrease over the 4 inches of 2008 models.  All other series feature a reduced depth of 2.9 inches.
Step models feature our new 24p Cinema Smooth that eliminates judder on 24p BP sources and 24p Satellite Channels
Improved contrast and lower reflection Ultra-Filterbright and Ultra-Filterbright PLUS on mid and step models
Content Connectivity( Suite of [email protected] features USB 2.0 Media, wireless DLNA, [email protected] Content Service and Content Library) will bring a new avenue for entertainment and multimedia experiences on Samsung’s 2009 plasma TVs.

We are committed to delivering on superior quality, energy efficiency and innovative features in our Plasmas line to keep us positioned as a leading brand in the market.

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