Plasma TVS a thing of the past

WITH its big­gest cheer­leader pulling out of the mar­ket, the plasma tele­vi­sion fi nally looks doomed to his­tory, writes Jen­nifer Dud­ley- Nicholson

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TECH -

THEY were once syn­ony­mous with en­ter­tain­ment ex­trav­a­gance and the best tele­vi­sual ex­pe­ri­ence money could buy.

Now plasma TVs are in low de­mand and in­creas­ingly lim­ited sup­ply. The for­mat’s big­gest cheer­leader, Pana­sonic, this month re­vealed it will stop mak­ing plasma tele­vi­sions, re­duc­ing its pro­po­nents to only two com­pa­nies.

But ex­perts and re­tail­ers alike say the plasma TV’s death has been a long time com­ing and that new TV tech­nol­ogy such as OLED and 4K screens have sealed its fate.

Pana­sonic an­nounced its with­drawal from the plasma mar­ket af­ter months of spec­u­la­tion, ex­plain­ing “de­clin­ing de­mand” was forc­ing it to stop pro­duc­ing plasma TVs in De­cem­ber.

Pana­sonic man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Steve Rust says the loss will be felt acutely in Aus­tralia, where con­sumers have been “strong fol­low­ers of plasma” for the past eight years.

“It’s sad to see it fi nish af­ter be­ing such a good busi­ness for a long pe­riod of time,” he says.

“In Aus­tralia, we’ve en­joyed high mar­ket share with plasma for a long pe­riod as it’s of­fered a high- qual­ity view­ing ex­pe­ri­ence at a very rea­son­able price.”

But even the lower prices of large plasma screens, of­ten thou­sands of dol­lars cheaper than LCD ri­vals, have not been enough to save the for­mat.

Glob­ally, plasma TV ship­ments fell 19 per cent be­tween April and June this year com­pared with last year, ac­cord­ing to Dis­play Search.

The tele­vi­sions now make up only 5.1 per cent of the world­wide mar­ket, nar­rowly lead­ing tra­di­tional tube tele­vi­sions that rep­re­sent 4 per cent of the mar­ket.

South Korean TV mak­ers LG and Sam­sung still man­u­fac­ture and sell plasma screens.

And LG Aus­tralia home en­ter­tain­ment mar­ket­ing man­ager Grant Van­den­berg confi rmed the com­pany will con­tinue to do so.

“Plasma tech­nol­ogy is a cost- ef­fec­tive way to pro­duce high- defi ni­tion TVs and for as long as there is de­mand for this af­ford­able prod­uct in the mar­ket, LG will con­tinue its pro­duc­tion,” he said.

Home en­ter­tain­ment ex­pert Steve Daw­son said it’s more ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy forc­ing plasma screens out of the mar­ket. Once the pre­mium TV tech­nol­ogy, plasma screens are now seen as power hun­gry and lack­ing the bright colours, deep blacks and slim profi les of their or­ganic light- emit­ting diode ( OLED) ri­vals.

It’s sad to see it fi nish af­ter be­ing such a good busi­ness for a long

pe­riod of time

“It seems to me, if you’ve got a new pre­mium tech­nol­ogy com­ing in at the top end, it only leaves a ro­man­tic at­tach­ment to the tech­nol­ogy that’s come be­fore it,” Mr Daw­son said.

“The OLED TVs are beau­ti­ful. You’ve got any colour, as bright as you like, right next door to blacks as black as you like.”

Har­vey Nor­man ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor David Ack­ery says OLED TVs are cur­rently be­ing held back by high prices and lim­ited avail­abil­ity, but will “sell re­ally well” when sup­plies in­crease.

Mr Ack­ery pre­dicts 4K or Ul­tra High- Defi ni­tion tele­vi­sions in sizes “60 inches and above” will be­come more pop­u­lar this year and next as more con­sumers be­come aware of the tech­nol­ogy.

Mr Rust says Pana­sonic will be chang­ing its fo­cus to this tech­nol­ogy in fu­ture, with more re­search into OLED tele­vi­sion, too.

“The TV in­dus­try is so com­pet­i­tive, it’s hard to drive and in­no­vate across mul­ti­ple plat­forms,” he says. “We need to mar­shall our re­sources around ( 4K) LCD and maybe OLED down the track.”

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