The last Panasonic plasma HDTVs are being sold right now, and it's only a matter of time until other plasma manufacturers call it quits. While writers and video enthusiasts will talk about their Pioneer KURO and Panasonic ZT plasmas for years to come, there is a new technology that is far better suited for our Ultra HD future. It's time to start looking at OLED. Not only are OLED sets much brighter than plasma, but they are thin, light, and easy on the AC power. They have the deep, inky blacks that we love in our plasma HDTVs, and they can accommodate Ultra HD resolution in ways that plasma simply can't.
OLED isn't quite ready for mainstream, Costco-priced sales, especially with Ultra HD under the hood, but it won't be long until it is, and OLED is a technology that can lure HDTV buyers back into the stores.
Not everybody in the future is going to want to sit at home listening to vinyl in a darkened, acoustically treated room in their basements, but plenty of people love listening to great-sounding music. If the iPod (iProducts) taught us anything about Millennials, it is that they love music more than any generation before them. They will carry 5,000 songs in their phone and will share and socialize around music and media in ways that us Boomers and Xers just don't do.
How does this new generation of buyers get into high-end audio? I don't think it's going to be the brick-and-mortar stereo store selling the NAD receiver and value-added products that I bought (or that were bought for me, I should say) when I was a 14-year-old kid living in Philadelphia. I think this Millennial generation will look to aftermarket headphones and mobile audio products like USB DACs, but the best opportunity to reach them is in premium installed car audio. I am not talking about an under-employed kid popping for a $275,000 Bentley, but more a Fiat 500 or a Ford Focus loaded with Beats Audio or other premium audio products. They get bass. They get clarity. They get surround sound. They get EQ. It's a lot of the fun of the audiophile hobby in a venue that has been somewhat untapped - at least until recently, when brands like Mark Levinson, B&O, Bose, Meridian, Bowers & Wilkins, and others began making the move.
We've definitely had some dark years, with plenty of reasons to complain and bitch about the specialty AV business. We've written plenty of stories doing just that, but I am feeling the tides change. I am seeing real evidence that a recovery is coming and that mainstream consumers will want what we, the enthusiasts, love so much. The trolls may disagree, but hopefully your stockbroker and/or AV salesman isn't a naysayer on an AV site. I, for one, am seeing some serious upside in the coming years.