Sound Advice: No need to hoard plasma TVs just yet

  • Article by: DON LINDICH
  • Updated: November 22, 2013 - 3:09 PM

Q: In your column you said that if Panasonic discontinued plasma you would probably hoard a few for future use. Since the decision has been announced do you think now is the time to put a few in storage, just in case?

A: It was widely speculated that if Panasonic pulled the plug on plasma, LG and Samsung would quickly follow suit. The opposite was true. After Panasonic made its announcement, both Korean companies quickly expressed their commitment to plasma television, and that new models would be introduced in 2014. In the past it has been easy for me to focus on Panasonic plasmas because of the picture quality, exceptional value, wide model line, and well-executed Smart TV features. Next year you will see more reviews and recommendations of LG and Samsung plasma televisions.

Given that plasma is going to be around a bit longer, I don’t know that I would go the hoarding route just yet. The top LG and Samsung plasmas have picture quality fully competitive with the comparable Panasonic models. It is a lot easier to make a great plasma TV than a great LED / LCD TV because the physical properties of plasma are much better suited for televisions.

Another reason I would not plasma-hoard just yet is OLED and 4K are starting to appear. Both have the potential to be better than a current top-rate plasma display, but it is not known if the potential will be realized.

OLED picture quality

Q: I know you like the Panasonic ZT60 plasmas. How does the picture compare to the OLED TVs that are now out?

A: I have not seen them compared side-to-side, but I know of people who have and was told the picture quality is very close, certainly not worth the considerable premium demanded by the OLED model.

OLED is expensive and the long-term longevity of large displays is unproven. They have been working on it for quite a few years and it is just now that we are seeing 55-inch OLED TVs.

I’ve been burned myself buying a very expensive TV with new technology. I bought a $13,000 70-inch Sony Qualia 006 HDTV soon after they were introduced in 2004, and even today if you feed my Qualia a good signal it still has the best picture I have ever seen. It was supposed to last indefinitely, with lamp changes every few years. Unfortunately, Sony’s rear projection SXRD technology had an unknown fatal flaw. Most of the SXRD RPTVs produced have failed already, and all others are on borrowed time. As a result, I put my Qualia in my game room and only use it for Blu-ray movies, trying to squeak as much life out of it as I can.

Send questions to donlindich@gmail.com. Get more recommendations and read past columns at www.soundadviceblog.com.

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