back to article Panasonic throws in towel on plasma tellies, preps for BILLION-dollar kick in pants

Panasonic is reportedly planning to pull out of the plasma TV business by the end of the financial year. The TV market has proved more and more unprofitable for once-dominant Japanese consumer electronics firms and Panasonic was expected to give up on the plasma display industry at some point, though its exit is sooner than …

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Bronze badge

Well, that's good news really...

...especially if you're a radio amateur. Plasma TVs are notorious for generating an astonishing wideband hash of spurious signals from DC to at least VHF.

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Re: Well, that's good news really...

That's interesting to know and by interesting I mean dull as a Lib Dem treasury meeting.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Well, that's good news really...

" LCD TVs have left plasma models far behind"

Except where it matters - picture quality - such as colours, contrast and black levels....

Panasonic were the new Pioneer. Shame pretty much the best screens on the market until large OLEDs arrive are going to be no more....

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Re: Well, that's good news really...

OLED is garbage, though. Inaccurate colour reproduction, and they fade like hell.

As some have said of their plasmas - lasting 7+ years...

Well, you own an OLED TV for 7 years and take a close look at it. I bet it has degraded to shit.

The Super AMOLED screen on my phone has clearly degraded sections, and is not black in the dark, it glows grey, and blotchy areas are very visible at that point. The screen is not damaged in the classic sense, it's simply a property of OLED screens.

No thanks.

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Thumb Down

Re: Well, that's good news really...

@Piro

Don't make the mistake of extrapolating from your own experiences. OLED is fantastic technology that continues to improve. Colours are largely a software issue - I love the vibrancy on a mobile phone but would definitely want to tone it down when watching a film on a TV (because ambient lighting is do different but also because I like to be able to adjust the gamma) but basically there should be nothing preventing someone producing a calibrated OLED screen. The colour gamut is wider than both LCD and plasma.

My 3.5 year old Samsung Wave still has a perfectly usable screen. The first OLED TVs only came on the market a few years ago but I suspect that they might well do as well as the early plasma, many of which have significantly outlived their rated lifetimes.

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Re: Well, that's good news really...

Making OLED work on a phone is a totally different problem than making it work on a TV.

TVs spend much more time with the screen powered on than phones do, we expect them to last much longer, and have greater expectations for accurate color reproduction (as demonstrated by all the people who seem fine walking around with OLED phones that have absolutely terrible color reproduction)

You'd need at least an order of magnitude greater lifetime for a TV OLED, and any pixel aging must take place at the same rate for different pixels and different colors, or happen at a rate known precisely enough that it could be compensated for in software (or somehow automate the calibration process, perhaps with a smartphone app)

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Re: Well, that's good news really...

Oh, and the colors are NOT a software issue. They can't make two identical OLED screens, the colors are different on every one. That's why they adjust the software to produce those crazy overly vivid and unrealistic colors, since they can't get the colors right they are trying to sell the vivid colors as a "feature". Compare several phones of the same make (low or high end, doesn't matter) and look carefully and you'll notice each has slightly unique colors. Compare several phones with quality LCD screens and the colors are absolutely identical.

This is one of the problems they keep working on in the battle to make OLED suitable for TV screens, but so far as I know, they still haven't solved it.

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Bronze badge

Re: Well, that's good news really...

Exactly. It astonishes me that most punters cannot see the difference between a top line Plasma screen and a top line LED screen - there is really no comparison - Plasma wins every time, long before you take out the light meter and start measuring stuff.

Sad to see Panasonic leaving the market to Samsung, as those two manufacturers have been trading "best" monikers in the plasma market for some time now.

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Re: Well, that's good news really...

>a top line Plasma screen and a top line LED screen - there is really no comparison

Have to agree there even on the low end as well. My 2007ish 1080i plasma is better for live TV viewing than my slightly newer 1080p LCD TV of roughly the same size. The LCD is better for video games though.

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Re: Well, that's good news really...

Jack, you are missing the big picture (pun intended)

. It's about EMC - Electromagnetic Compatibility. The EMC regulations were put in force to ensure that electronic stuff works together. You buy one thing and it doesn't stop something else working. It happens to be EU law.

Your attitude may be not to give a fuck about interference to something that you have no interest in and your enjoyment of your TV is more important than someone else’s enjoyment of radio communications.

What you fail to understand is that this is the tip of the iceberg.

Cheap LED replacement lamp fittings are becoming a major problem to DAB and FM reception and have also been reported to cause issues to xDSL broadband services. Why? Because they are cost engineered and as EMC components cost money, they are often left out of the production build, meaning that they radiate radio signals. Not just on Short-Wave but throughout the VHF spectrum.

Have a look at this: http://conversation.which.co.uk/energy-home/led-bulb-radio-interference-dab-test/

First generation Powerline networking products were a problem to Short Wave users, but the later products are using VHF spectrum and are also causing similar problems to DAB, FM and xDSL.

What really made me laugh was someone whined about interference to their powerline HDMI distribution system getting caned by LED lights.

The upshot is that EMC regulations are being over-ridden to ensure that There are "no barriers to trade" The real scary message is that now precedents have been set, there are no almost no limits to the amount of electromagnetic junk that a product can spew out, yet still be CE marked (EMC compliance is a mandatory part of getting EMC approval!) and put on the market.

So in the current market, you cannot buy something in the knowledge that it's use won't knock out something else in your home working. Same goes with your neighbour. What's to stop him wanting to enjoy his floodlit kitchen at the expense of you watching your Plasma TV? And it will get worse.

Maybe that might be a more interesting prospect to you than a Lib Dem treasury meeting :)

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@Snar

Thanks for the link. I will continue researching that.

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Re: Well, that's good news really...

It's not just my experience, a friend with a Galaxy S III showed almost exactly the same thing on his screen. These are not old devices with a lot of screen time.

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B-D

CE or C E?

One is Certified for Europe, the other is a Chinese Export.

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Silver badge

Re: Well, that's good news really...

Exactly. It astonishes me that most punters cannot see the difference between a top line Plasma screen and a top line LED screen - there is really no comparison - Plasma wins every time, long before you take out the light meter and start measuring stuff.

Well, if you know something about human vision it shouldn't really astonish you. It's a bit like car sound systems and acoustics: little point in the high end for most people. When it comes to telly then ambient lighting plays a huge role in subjective image quality.

When you say LED I assume you mean LCD. Most LCD's now have LEDs for (side or back) lighting but there are very few LED TVs out there. High-end LCD TVs with LED-backlighting now have comparable blacks to plasma and as they are able to switch off individual LEDs. A decent screen that is properly set up should give good results, whatever the technology. This was borne out in the most recent set of test results I read in c't (German computer magazine). I find my Philips LCD has a much better picture than a friend's plasma.

For a while I think that plasma screens were able to maintain a significant price advantage over same size LCD screens but being forced to compete on price is what caused Panasonic to get out of the game (announced at last year's IFA).

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Re: Well, that's good news really...

Oh, and the colors are NOT a software issue. They can't make two identical OLED screens, the colors are different on every one. That's why they adjust the software to produce those crazy overly vivid and unrealistic colors

Did you notice that you contradicted yourself? OLED screens can be calibrated but there just hasn't been a market for it yet. It'll be interesting to see what the new TVs from Samsung and LG offer in this respect and how they perform.

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Re: Well, that's good news really...

You should be aware that OLEDs are the standard broadcast reference monitors these days.

Still, the end of plasma is bad news, they offer tremendous pictures and large screen OLEDs aren't yet ready for primetime. Let's hope there are some bargains to be had...

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Re: Well, that's good news really...

LED illuminated screens still can't touch plasma for contrast between adjacent pixels, side by side the LCD just looks ill. Had aloof at the new big curved Samsung OLED the other day - decent picture but wasn't properly setup, five grand unfortunately.

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Unhappy

Tough as old boots

Shame for Panasonic. I have two Vieras, one a 50" Plasma and a 37" LCD. Both are rock solid and after 6 years still have great pictures - no need to replace them but if I did have a need, I would have had no hesitation in looking at Panasonic as a preferred choice. Got a Samsung LCD too and tbh, it;s a bit sh** by comparsion.

The plasma one weighs a lot and seems indestructible, it'll probably outlive me.

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Re: Tough as old boots

Agreed - at least for me my plasma is superior to LCD and the only issue i have is i want a bigger plasma screen.

Note to the TV industry - I want a *screen* from you as other people do everything else better for far less money. Leave the 'smart' to them. Leave out the spurious electronics and i'd have a few more screens by now.

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M7S
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Re: Tough as old boots

Moi aussi. 11 years and still going strong. The only downside is the lack of HD on a 42" but that's just a function of progress, other than that it's rock solid, and I agree with the comment above regarding the lack of need for "smartness"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Tough as old boots

I bought a new TV a few weeks ago. Ruled out the Panasonics straight away. Heavy, use loads of power, wouldn't go in the car as you have to transport them vertically, and apart from being able to do black better, the picture quality's no better.

Reason I bought it was to get a TV which does Netflix. Yep, there are other Smart TV features on there which didn't really interest me, but I'll admit it's pretty damn good. Decent implementation of iPlayer. Plug in a USB hard drive and you can pause/rewind/record. And I've got a bunch of old PCs loaded up with hard drives which contain various media files. Installed minidlna and they all stream to the TV flawlessly. I didn't bother with a 3D model because everyone I know who has 3D never uses it.

Only annoyance was it started serving adverts in the "smart" menus, which pissed me off. If I pay for a product I don't expect ads. But I blocked the relevant domains on my router and all is well.

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Re: Tough as old boots

Count me in. In my second Viera plasma TV. I'd buy a third without blinking.

Beautiful colors, great blacks, and excellent image all around. Sad to see, again, another case of a VHS trumping a betamax.

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WTF?

Re: Tough as old boots

"Ruled out the Panasonics straight away. Heavy, use loads of power..."

"...And I've got a bunch of old PCs loaded up with hard drives which contain various media files...."

Anyone else feel this is a little inconsistent?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Tough as old boots

>>"Ruled out the Panasonics straight away. Heavy, use loads of power..."

>>"...And I've got a bunch of old PCs loaded up with hard drives which contain various media files...."

>>Anyone else feel this is a little inconsistent?

So I'm the original AC (was expecting the downvotes from the plasma fanbois btw).

Why is this inconsistent? I have a bunch of old PCs of various vintages which are still fine for serving files. No point in selling them as they're worthless. They sit in the loft where there's plenty of space. They're powered off most of the time. I had them anyway, so they cost me nothing.

I assume you thought this was inconsistent because you thought I had gone out and bought a bunch of PCs.

Back to the point about the plasmas though. I get that they have a better picture quality than LCDs, and this is a big deal if you're a film buff. But for just watching TV there's little discernible difference for most people.

Also, when I was looking, the vast majority of the Panasonic TVs were LED anyway ( I should probably have said that before). The plasmas were all too large, and cost 5 to 8 times what I wanted to spend. I don't love TVs enough to want to spend several thousand pounds on one. The older plasmas that you can still get some places don't have Netflix, which was what I wanted in the first place.

As for the TVs degrading over time, my old 32" LCD TV cost me £1100 over a decade ago and it's still going strong. You can pick a TV up that size for peanuts. If this one doesn't last me a full decade, then sod it, I'll buy a new TV for what will probably be the price of a few pints in the local.

So for the fanbois, show me a 47" (or thereabouts) plasma which does Netflix, has an "A" energy rating or better, can hang on plasterboard and I can get home for less than the £429 I paid for the LED TV I bought and I'll definitely consider taking the one I bought back and swapping it. It'll need to include delivery, assuming you still can't lay plasmas flat in the back of the car. Honestly, I'd be interested because for me, I had to rule the plasmas out straight away.

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Bloody shame.

If I was in the market for a giant good quality TV, I'd head straight to a Panasonic plasma, no question.

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Aww

I have a 50" Panasonic plasma. Had it for about 7/8 years and it's taken being moved around multiple times, had every type of input I could throw at it plugged in, and it's kept it's picture as bright and steady as ever.

Since I put a projector up in my living room, I now use the plasma as my PC monitor. It's 50 inches of glorious goodness.

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Scarey, Plasma is still absolutely leagues ahead of LCD.

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Silver badge

Yes and no. There's lots to like about plasma but it has its problems not least its power draw. LCD has benefitted from investment due to being the technology of choice from mobile phones to tablets, computer monitors and even very large TV screens, a domain that was once the reserve of plasma.

However, this isn't really news as Panasonic announced a while back it was getting out of plasma and has recently been heavily involved in the move to printing OLED screens.

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Power draw isn't as bad as it used to be. IIRC, a 50" plasma uses around $12. more electricity a year than a similar sized LCD. And the picture is far better.

It's really a shame to see them going. Hopefully mine will last long enough that some new technology will come along and at least equal the Panasonic Plasmas.

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Bronze badge

I have been holding off on a very large screen purchase - it seems that I might hang on a wee bit longer and get Panasonic's last one out the door.

And for the spurious "use too much power argument", $12 and a dime will get you a pint where I live, so power draw is hardly likely to be a factor at all.

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>Yes and no. There's lots to like about plasma but it has its problems not least its power draw.

Actually I would say the extra size and weight would be the biggest con for most people. You probably won't be hanging a plasma on the wall unless you have excellent carpentry skills. Still for the picture quality in many people's opinion its worth it.

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"However, this isn't really news as Panasonic announced a while back it was getting out of plasma and has recently been heavily involved in the move to printing OLED screens."

I do hope they sort the OLED in time for my next TV. In about... 10 years? My Viera is new, and rock solid. Will change when it dies.

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"Actually I would say the extra size and weight would be the biggest con for most people. "

My 42" plasma has a depth of about 3 centimeters. I believe the LCD are in the range of 2, aren't they? Hardly important, as a few years back people were buying LCD to hang on the walls due to its thinness - 4 or 5 centimeters at the time.

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Silver badge

yeah

Yeah like I said my tellys are a bit older and haven't looked at the tech in last 3 years. They have gotten much lighter and thinner as can be expected. I still believe the plasmas are significantly heavier than LCDs though.

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Anonymous Coward

Tis a bad day indeed for AV enthusiasts with this news

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MJI
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A few things

Firstly there were a LOT of poor Plasma and LCD TVs out there until more recently, even from premium brands (ever seen a Sony S series LCD , they were rubbish, more later).

Bad colour banding on Plasmas, some strange artifacts. Poor upscaling on LCD, strange colours, motion blur, slow response. It really was a minefield.

Plasma TVs really came down to Pioneer and Panasonic, the big Pioneers had an excellent picture, the Panasonics the best of the smaller / cheaper ones.

LCDs well there are some good ones, best example of you get what you pay for was the above S Series Sony, same display, same source via HDMI there were 3 other TVs, 1 similiarly bad from Sony, and two others both excellent, both looked much nicer and one of them full of toys, the cheaper good one was the second most expensive TV but the best value. Oh and it was also a W series Sony (OK it was the entire 46" range of Sony LCD TVs and it was a case of two terrible two excellent)

So these LCDs were the first I thought that is good enough to replace CRT, or be an alternative to a decent plasma.

Shopped around and found a TV between the two good ones, not again, but a lot better at SD than either ot the other two good TVs, anyway I went LCD myself.

So Plasma was killed by power consumption, weight, screen burn (my main concern), and some poor ones, LCD finally took off with enthusiasts when the decent 1080p panels became affordable.

Even Pioneer dropped out of the UK market, their TVs were nice but some were not full HD, sad to see them go.

Panasonic kept going until basically is was not worth doing them.

Idiots carried on buying the cheapest flat screen they could, some real shockers out there, even some premium brands like the above crap Sony S series. Enthusiasts moved to the better LCDs, a good example being Sony, they sold a lot of W series, their enthusiast range. The Koreans pulled their fingers out and took the whole middle market. Now they are taking the rest from the Japanese. Samsung and LG being the leaders.

I have relations who are big Panasonic fans and I know they have Panasonic LCD TVs.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A few things

>Idiots carried on buying the cheapest flat screen they could

Idiots keep buying people carriers and estate cars too. Vans even. Don't they know you could buy a Porsche which will be a much better driving experience?

Not everyone's an AV buff. A cheap TV's absolutely fine for watching Pointless.

You're right about the rest though. Just the way things are I'm afraid.

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MJI
Silver badge

Re: A few things

But a lot of these cheap screens were just terrible, better off keeping their old TV. Better comparison would be buying the old Escort Abysmal over any other cars in its class.

Getting a screen which makes a worn out CRT look good is a bit silly.

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Headmaster

Great shame about the usability

I recently bought a Panny plasma , fantastic picture no question. But the software behind the EPG or recorded programs etc is b_____y awful. Fingers crossed they still invest some time and effort into doing something about it.

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Shame

I've always worked on the premise that plasma was the best picture quality and Panasonic made the best plamas and bought, and recommended, accordingly.

I have a four or five year old 50" Panasonic plasma that is still going strong, streams most of the media I can throw at it and works a treat.

I also agree with the comments about Smart and 3D above. Not interested in either.

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Big box stores killed plasma

Everybody goes in there and looks at the rows and rows of TVs in a room lit more brightly than the surface of the sun and the plasmas look dim by comparison to the LCD TVs. So the latter must be "better" in the eyes of the drooling idiots who buy off the floor from such places.

If people compared TVs side by side in a dark or even normally lit room things might be quite different in the TV market at this point. Plasmas do consume more power (though the recent ones are an order of magnitude more power efficient than the first generations) but some of that is simply down to lack of investment since LCDs got big enough to encroach on the market for large TVs.

I hope LG sticks around in the plasma market, if they leave there won't be anyone left in the 'quality but reasonably priced' plasma market.

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Re: Big box stores killed plasma

Are Samsung still in the plasma biz? Our 50 inch Samsung plasma is still going strong and looks excellent. If it died, I'd look for a Samsung one again.

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Re: Big box stores killed plasma

I was never impressed with Samsung's plasma line, they got the low price part right but not the quality. Opposite of Pioneer, who got the quality part right but not the price!

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Re: Big box stores killed plasma

Yep - my first plasma was a Samsung which got "red speckled" after 18months. They wouldn't consider repairing it for a reasonable price, so I bought a new one - a Panny. Which is excellent.

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It probably isn't a good thing for screen producers that the range of opinions is so wide. Just in the few comments already posted there are people who swear blind that Plasma >>> LCD and vice versa, (surely we can't all be right?)

Certainly my experience with Panasonic Plasma has been much worse than their LCDs but clearly the variation in their output is crazy wide.

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MJI
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Quality issue - both are correct.

Basically a really good LCD TV will pee over all of the average Plasmas.

Basically a really good Plasma TV will pee over all of the average LCDs.

So if you own a top of range Pioneer Plasma (or the Panasonics with Kuro technology), LCD looks poor.

So if you own a top of range Sony LCD, Plasma looks poor.

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Unhappy

Shame

I have several plasmas and lcds at home including a 14 year old 42 panasonic still works perfectly

plus a 5 year old pioneer 60 kuru still better than any other home screen I've seen

was expensive but was the best purchase I've ever made so much better than newer samsung lcd i have.

Also glad i passed on 3d hype now a complete flop.

I think plasm vs lcd is like coke vs pepsi.

initial showroom impression - over brightness like over sweetness may be good -

but grates over time - one then gets to appreciate the more subtle qualities screens like the kuru has.

also don't understand comments about weight ??

a bit weird - do you like to carry your tv around as a party trick !

Heavy in fact good in some regard less attractive to burglars.

Also no point in wafer thin for v big tvs esp. if you have decent audio hooked up which you must really anyway since all tvs have shit sound - was so glad kuru had no speakers.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Shame

>also don't understand comments about weight ??

>a bit weird - do you like to carry your tv around as a party trick !

A lot of people mount their tellies on the wall nowadays. Walls in modern houses are made of plasterboard, so you need to make sure the mount goes into the studwork. Even anchor fixings are a often substandard for heavy plasmas. The studwork might not necessarily line up with where you want your telly.

Plasterboard itself isn't very strong.

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Bronze badge

Good glowing bits, bad software

I own a TCP50V10 from Panasonic. It nice, but it should have been awesome for how much it cost. Out of the box it needed adjustments to fix green shadows. There's an on/off switch for video AGC but it doesn't work. It's not very bright and it has two layers of strong glare in the viewing area but anti-glare coatings on the frame. The software is absolute garbage. MPEG4 support is stamped all over the box but such a tiny feature subset is supported that you'll never get it running. DLNA and local network features are not supported in the US. VieraCast displays a multi-deminsional grid of features that never arrived. The YouTube player doesn't understand aspect ratios and can't support some audio codecs. Amazon VOD proxies through Panasonic servers, which can't stop crashing long enough for a preview to load. There's no support for surround sound except passing through the OTA stream to another device. It's an epic failure as a high-end digital-era TV.

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Silver badge

shame as others say

I hope Panasonic stays around in the long run especially in the one market they can't be touched and that is in the consumer projector market. I love my Panasonic projector even though its going on 4 years old and even though it was less than a grand there was nothing under $1500 that could touch it at the time.

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