Rome was neither built nor disassembled in a day. While historians point to September 4, 476—the overthrow of the last emperor—as the date it all fell apart, the fall really began decades earlier and continued for decades afterwards.
Likewise, tech historians may point to February 12, 2009 as the official fall of the plasma empire—even though new models have just been announced. That's the day that Pioneer—arguable the maker of the best plasmas ever—announced its complete exit from the TV business and that Vizio—the number-three plasma retailer in the US—gave up on the tech in favor of LCD. That leaves just Panasonic, LG and Samsung defending the diminished borders of the once-great empire. (And the latter two are also the two largest makers of LCD panels in the world. Only Panasonic still stake its life on plasma.)
This would be an easy story to tell if it was simply a matter of the better tech winning. But it's not. Plasma still beats LCD on almost every measure of picture quality.
The excuse for most flat panel purchases is the Super bowl, and plasma is unquestionably the better Super bowl TV. Its extremely fast screen response rate means it can show fast motion crisply, and it's wide viewing angle means that even the latecomers at the edge of the room see a bright image of the game.
Say you're more a cinephile than sports fan? Plasma is the best choice for movies, too. It produces far better contrast, which renders richer detail—especially in the kinds of dark scenes that are common in many movies. And while the best LCDs deliver very rich color, the cheapie LCDs that most people buy are probably no match for even bargain plasma.
The one real negative for plasma is power consumption. But even that's improving. While the average plasma uses about 17 percent more power as an LCD of the same size (according to Cnet), Panasonic has just introduced new screens called "NeoPDP" that use half as much juice as earlier plasmas. Next year's versions are expected to cut that down to one third as much. And even the eco-record is mixed. Most LCD TVs contain mercury-laden fluorescent lamps.
So what's wrong with plasma? It's just not cool anymore. Having been the first large-screen technology, it now seems old. LCDs are the shining future—literally, as they are quite a bit brighter than plasma panels. Nevermind that LCDs are bright enough to give you a sunburn, and you have to turn them down to make the screen tolerable to look at. Big numbers sell. LCD wins on the brightness number and also usually on resolution. You can find a "1080p" LCD (with a resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels) screen as small as 32 inches. At that size, you're unlikely to actually see the benefit of the extra pixels, but it's nice to know you got more for your money. Meanwhile, most 42-inch plasmas (the most common size) have a sub-high-def resolution of 1024 by 768 pixels. Regardless of how it looks, it just doesn't sound good.
I'm not, by the way, a plasma partisan. With my small budget and small apartment, I had no room for a giant screen. Instead of plasma, I bought a 37-inch LCD TV on closeout. The picture quality is lousy, but the size and price were right. And since I mainly watch Internet downloads, the screen is not the quality bottleneck, anyway.
Plasma may survive the Fall as a niche product for Blu-ray-equipped video aficionados—just like Latin remained the language of choice for the small number of educated people during the Middle Ages. But it looks like LCD has breached the walls, deposed the monarch, and installed itself as our new TV overlord.
It does not seem likely that technical details such as power consumption or (even) resolution are killing plasma. It is how they look side-by-side with LCD and RPs. Visit the biggest selling venues: WalMart, CostCo, etc., and see all 3 technologies side-by-side, displaying identical signals. Which have the sharpest-looking, brightest, most colorful pictures? LCDs. Granted, store the environment isn't even close to that in a living room. But it is the comparison that counts, not the absolute qualities. In this, LCD seems to be winning.
I miss my plasma.:( But I can't wait for those new Panasonics!
I hate watching HD, or even regular TV for that matter, on LCDs. They don't seem clear enough for me and the color is just...dull. LCDs are only on laptops and for computors monitors. But I think the reason why people buy LCDs is that their cheaper upfront and down the road. The bulbs for my old Plasma Panasonic cost $600 for new ones, not counting installment.
anyone know what the OLED displays are supposed to be like, and if they're supposed to replace LCD's?
Generalsnozzle asked about OLED. See my blog entry from the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show where two companies showed OLED TVs: http://gottaget1.blogspot.com/2008/01/150-inch-plasma-tv-coming-from.html
I just bought a Pioneer Kuro Elite Monitor (60") for use in my basement home theater. The picture is way better than the best LCD's out there, including the Sony or Samsung priced in the same category. I expect to enjoy this for years and if I pay a little more for energy and it is a concern, then I should never have spent the money for the top visual display out there. There is quality and then there is economics. I vote for when I want to spend an evening watching something special, that I watch it on something special.
Why was Laser television not mentioned here?
If you want to see the future of displays check out the samsung's projector phone or research the company with the trading symbol: PANL. OLED is the new display in quality, price, size, etc.
Wow dude that is amazing!
What about DLP?
DLP sets are less expensive, as bright or brighter than plasma and LCD, have more colors, and are getting thinner all the time.
Why are they not getting any mention? They also have an incredibly high frame rate making them ideal as a platform for 3-D TV.
This is what I meant to say, and its a lot:
I miss my plasma.:( But I can't wait for those new Panasonics! I hate watching HD, or even regular TV for that matter, on LCDs. They don't seem clear enough for me and the color is just...dull(on regular TV, HD is fuzzy and a little dull). LCDs are only good on laptops and for computor monitors. Both of which there great for, but will eventully be replaced by OLEDs in the near future, 3-5 years. But I think the reason why people buy LCDs is that their cheaper upfront and down the road. The bulbs for my old Panasonic Plasma cost $600 for new ones, not counting installment. For gaming, LCDs are still where to go because it is near impossible to burn the screen with them. DLP is too little, too late. A friend of mine has a DLP that always seem to be fuzzy with OK HD quality and its big and heavy so it seems that for people who miss CRTs than DLP is your choice. But the future is OLED being replaced by "Thin Sheet TV's"(I forgot what there called but there like thin sheets of plastic).
What's an "empero"?
Seriously - do you have an editor? Or even just a goddamn spelling checker, if not? After seeing a whopper like that in sentence #2, I skipped the rest of the article.
One thing not mentioned in this article, and one that is very important to us gamers is the issue of burn-in.
When I tried gaming on a large plasma, after only 15 minutes of game play (in a game that showed several meters for things like ammo and health) I had visible burn-in. It was faintly visible for nearly 12 hours before it thankfully faded away. After that, I wouldn't bring my Xbox 360 anywhere near it.
On the LCD TV I've got, no problems what so ever.
"It’s extremely fast screen response rate"
Nice work, editors ;)
Hey Webpa...I think you need glasses. There is no way on gods green earth that LCD is sharper than Plasma. The only reason people buy LCD is that they are forced LCD's by stores. Nor do the people do the research about what they are buying. Plasmas have the better picture hands down. Tell a uneducated consumer something and he will believe it. Anyone remember Betamax video tapes? They had the better picture over VHS but for some unknown reason, Vhs became more popular. Goodbye betamax. Same thinking here. LCD becoming more popular (especially with gamers)goodbye Plasma. Manufacturers arent going to make what they arent selling. I actually had a salesman at a high end Electronics store try and force me to buy a LCD Monitor. Even after I told him I wanted the Plasma. Why?? Because he had a stack of them waiting to be sold.
I prefer DLP for large screens they just have better response and color then LCDs and can't be killed by a wiimote besides I have room for a 62" set.
Ok, I had to finally create my PopSci account just to comment on this article.
First of all, to address the "gamer" issue.
Burn-in is a moot point with any plasma made in the past 2 years or so. Pixel shift technology has made burn-in NEARLY impossible. I say nearly because it could still happen but for your average gamer, or average ESPN viewer it just isn't going to happen.
Second, to anyone who thinks an LCD produces a "better" picture at home or in a store, you just aren't looking at the right stuff. LCD's are BRIGHT, so people assume a BRIGHT picture is a good picture. Look closely next time at skin tones, look at the difference between black and white. Look at the reds and greens, are they really red or green. The easiest test of green on an LCD is to watch a football game. Even fake turf isn't "GREEN" its naturally green with brown mixed in. LCD's, especially those "tweeked" for maximum store brightness will always show a BRIGHT green football field.
Sure you can adjust your top of the line Sony XBR or Samsung 9000 series to get a damned good picture. But my Sony XBR CRT, or a plasma doesn't need to be "fiddled with" to deliver a great picture, fiddle and you have an AWESOME picture.
Once the new generation plasmas are out, the power curve will be reversed so the only problem I have with Plasma is the same problem with any phosphorescent display, as it ages, the image fades. Of course, it tends not to be immediately noticeable as it is very gradual.
I find that people make one decision about technology and hold that opinion no matter how much the technology advances. The original reason for buying LCD was cost as that issue is eliminated, the most important reasons for one over the other is motion. There plasma is the best.
dont like plasma anyway... leaves that burn-in mark if you keep it on the same frame for to long (if you leave it on pause for too long, your screwed forever)
DLP is the future!!!!
Hey, ecuapride92 - get real!
Read sarcasm101's post above, regarding burn-in. He's right.
You, on the other hand, are apparently high. Must be why you have the wacky tobaccy as your avvie pic!
You do know that smoking that stuff makes various parts of your anatomy shrink? Or even fall off....
Who knows the truth about the life of a plasma TV? The rumors that is has a life expectancy of about 10,000 hrs is widespread. It is the reason most people I know stayed away from them. Is the rumor true?
Like Kolbs in the previous post I also recently bought the pioneer Kuro. I have a sharp LCD in the house as well. The image from the sharp does not even come close to my pioneer. The pioneer has taken center stage in my house. You can still play games on the plasma and connect it to a computer (it has an orbital feature which prevents burn in).
Life expectancy is said to be 50,000 hours for the set. Although it does consume a little more electricity then the LCD, the difference is minor and a small price to pay for an increadible viewing experience.
If you want the best TV money can buy...there is nothing that can touch a properly calibrated Kuro set. Although pioneer stoped making the set, its demand has gone up and so has the price (due to limited stock).
Here is what a calibrated kuro picture looks like:
This kind of TV too expensive with me, I can buy it now, wish that the price will reduce much in near future.
I just purchased my first plasma (Panasonic NeoPDP). Picture quality was important to me.
Maybe the author should have read "Q2 Plasma HDTV Sales Surge; LCD 40″+ Size Sales Flat —Vizio Maintains No. 1 LCD Volume" - see HDGuru.com
I think the reason there are limited producers of Plasma HDTVs has been a lower profit margin compared to LCD. It's that simple. LCDs are less expensive to make. To compete on price with LCD, Plasma margins are lower. New LED backlit LCDs may be MORE profitable, since they carry a much higher price... for, essentially, different backlighting.
Also, most Plasmas are 37" and larger (Vizio does have one 32" - Vizio VP322... bad CNET review). For consumers who can't afford large sets or may only need a small screen for a bedroom, small office, etc. Their only choice is LCD.
Plasmas VS LCD's I read the article About How much better plasmas are that LCD s. What I didn't read was How much
longer LCD s out live the Plasmas. When I buy A big money
item. It better damm well last a very long time. I am one
who use to buy something as soon it hits the market. Didn't
happen this time. I waited and watched this all play out. Other wise I would have been burned again.
I have heard all comments.Plasma is the winner in a home Theater room(dark area)it is the best now(compared to DLP and LCD)But,it will not be the best in the next 5yrs.Fewer "Flagship" companies had forseen this and has written it off (to much pride,to give the competor "Panasonic" the recognition that they deserved)And Mitsubishi had made a mistake with the Laser Tv (Not recognized of thier efforts).DLP-With Texas Electroinics chip(Just to Bulky and the bulb wasn`t long lived) everyone wants it thin...Cheap ass LCDs have been the up rise...Like a car parts---Good, Better or Best,...GOOD!, you have a LCD from Walmart, Target, Rent-to-Own, or Any place that has a SALE. BETTER>>>>you went to Best Buy,H.H Greg,Brands Mart,Frys or any place that will have a well mitch matched of choices and have the no interest until....6months,1 yr or worst...2yrs from the date (Red Flag)!! and a very expensive warranty(that happens to just about add up to $200 for a 2yr plan. Now The Best LCD tv,would have an engine that can tweek up the smoothness as well as the Sharpness(Panasonics` Plasma series,doesn`t need the be tweeked .The 3rd generation does live a little longer than the previous models).Also the "Flagship LCD",would be great in a well lit room.And can be great for Gaming,Computering and as well as clearing up the pile up of wiring( with the use of Sync and Wifi).Now on to the future...LCD Will be house hold for several reasons. And they are....OLED(Organic Light Emitting Diode)Organic>Carbon,Lighting emitting>no back light to help the picture,it doesn`t need it.Very bright in contrast.And Diode>No wires(The best thing since the Solid State Tecnology.making it energy wise.Now...3D LED tv is a joke compared to OLED.The mutts are tring to push that on you like the Laser Disc and the mini Disc players..The are just part of the eqaution...Take 3D and mix it with OLED(with the wifi and Sync(Net gear,DMeX,NexFlix and BluRay Live and ...etc.The second Generation of Televisions will have that and the Third gen. Will be able the down load the inforamtion into your sync "Sunglass & Watch" For Holographic viewing on High speed trains or planes.Or watch it on your Oled Cell phone....Oh yeah,1 million Resolution vs 1080 I can`t tell you anymore
Paragraphs are our friends.
Plasmas, like DLPs, are certainly on a decline. There were some great new Plasma releases in 2010, especially in the 55-Inch plus range, but with the new LED backlit LCDs and local or how samsung calls it precision dimming, their advantages became alot smaller. Real black? No problem for a good LED TV and it doesn't come with a glare type display and doesn'r produce any heat, using much less energy. Recently saw a 55-Inch LED HDTV from LG at a local store (www.55le8500.net). It's even THX certified, 9M:1 contrast ratio with 240Hz...who needs a Plasma?
Remember Betamax video tape systems? They had better image, and sound specs...but the specs were such that the human eyes/ears could not detect them. They only showed up on lab equipment. So...who wanted to pay twice as much for benefits you couldn't detect? VHS rules because it was 'good enough', and cost half as much as Beta. Ditto Plasma HDTV...better, and costlier, but most people can't detect most of the betterness with their ears, and eyes. Then, too, Plasma really only gives you that betterness in the dark...when the room you watch it in is as dark as a movie theater. In daylight, or with room lights on at night, Plasma doesn't look as good as LCD. Since most people spend most of their time watching TV in daylight, or with room lights on at night, LCD looks better to most people most of the time, and it costs less than Plasma to boot. In bad economies, cheaper is a kind of better all on it's own. Plasma HDTV is this generations Betamax VCR...doomed to be an over-hyped, over priced, footnote in the technology history books.
The price variations is what is killing the plasma. There are more people that fit in your category, that ones with enough living space and cash to splurge on the plasma. I was actually informed that LCD is more functional until you start getting into the large sizes. Perhaps that is where LCD marketing won over the plasma. Either way, consumers were and remain nervous as we are never certain that todays technology will outlast the money invested. Change change and more change, people become nervous and tend to spend on the cheaper versions.