Now might be a good time to buy a Samsung plasma TV, because next year they’ll be gone for good.
According to both CNet and Reuters, Samsung plans to stop producing plasma panels at the end of 2014. The company cited “changes in market demands,” and said it will “increase our focus on growth opportunities in UHD TVs and Curved TVs.”
The move follows Panasonic’s decision to end plasma TV production last year, and leaves LG as the only major TV manufacturer still committed to plasma.
But even LG may not stay committed for long; sources have told Yonhap News Agency that LG plans to discontinue plasma panel production soon, and has already repurposed one of its plasma production lines to make solar batteries. An LG spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal that it will supply plasma TVs “as long as there is demand,” but noted that just a single-digit percentage of TV revenue comes from plasma sets.
Videophiles often praise plasma for its deep blacks, wide viewing angles and fast response times. But early on, plasma earned a stigma for higher power consumption, shorter lifespan and potential for burn-in (though plasma TV makers have largely addressed these issues over time). LED-LCD panels also tend to be thinner and lighter, and come in a wider range of screen sizes.
Performance comparisons aside, plasma may also be a victim of TV makers’ moving toward flashier new technologies. Speaking to CNet in March, Samsung’s visual display R&D vice president John Ryu said plasma had a higher cost of production than LED-LCD, and is harder to produce cost-effectively in 4K resolution. Most TV makers are now betting on 4K as the next big thing, so they have an impetus to give plasma the boot.