We heard the warnings many times before - that Panasonic was pulling out of the plasma HDTV market. The obituary for plasma was pretty much already written, then BAM! Panasonic came to the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show and showed off the ZT Series, a top-of-the-line, KURO-killing set that changed the game one more time. But now, it's official. Panasonic will cease plasma panel production in December and end plasma sales by March 2014, leaving only Samsung and LG to keep making the flat TV that changed HDTV forever. Samsung introduced several new plasma series this past year, including the highly regarded F8500 Series, but LG's plasma offerings are hardly worth mentioning at this point.
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CES 2014 will give us a better idea of what the other TV manufacturers are going to do with plasma TVs in the near future, but it's clear that the epic run for plasma will soon end. The question is, should you swoop in and buy one before it's too late? Videophiles still pine for their Pioneer KURO sets from six or seven years ago (today's Panasonics and Samsungs are actually better, but you can't tell that to a KURO owner), and used models sold on eBay and Craigslist at premium prices for years after Pioneer made its dramatic exit from the HDTV market.
The Argument for Plasma
• You aren't going to find a better black level for your money than you will with the plasma TVs that are still on store shelves now.
• Today's plasma TVs resolve colors (especially red on the Panasonic ZT60) as well as, if not better than, any TV you can buy now.
• Today's plasmas aren't quite as slim as LED-based LCDs, but they come close.
• Most of today's plasmas are loaded with nearly every value-added feature that you can get on an HDTV, ranging from SmartTV services to integrated cameras to voice/motion control.
• Issues like permanent burn-in are rare (but still possible) compared with when the technology first came to market.
• It's better to buy a new TV than a used one with lots of hours on it, in the event that OLEDs and premium LED/LCDs are just too pricey in the years to come and/or can't match the performance of today's plasmas.
• Today's plasmas perform better in a well-lit room compared with plasmas of the past.
• This last batch of plasma HDTVs aren't power pigs like the Pioneer KUROs of the past.
• There is no Ultra HD standard yet for either broadcast or Blu-ray, thus 1080p is still considered "state of the art" for consumer video. Plasma TVs will do just as good a job (if not better) with 1080p sources as the current crop of Ultra HD sets that cost more.
Read on to page 2 for the Argument Against Plasma . . .