Panasonic announced Thursday that it is ceasing production of plasma TV panels this December, marking the end of Japanese TV manufacturing in the category. Top reviewers, including HD Guru, have praised Panasonic's 2013 plasmas as some of the best flat HDTVs this year. The decision isn't based on quality of the product, but rather declining demand. This isn't the death of plasma, though: The two Korean plasma makers, LG and Samsung, say they plan to introduce plasmas in 2014.
In recent years Panasonic, Sony and Sharp have been losing money on HDTVs and all three have taken steps to turn to profitability by closing facilities and reorganizing. Demand for TVs worldwide is down, and plasmas, rather than LCD TVs, have borne the brunt of the declining interest.
In a press release issued today Panasonic states:
Until now, due to the superiority of the picture, Panasonic’s PDPs [plasma display panels] have received high appraisal and there has been firm demand from customers worldwide. However, due to rapid, drastic changes in the business environment and a declining demand for PDP in the flat panel display market, it was judged that continuing the business would be difficult and a decision was made to stop production. The company will end sales of plasma TVs for consumer use and PDP-related products for commercial use, such as Interactive Plasma Displays, with the products for FY 2014 (ending March 31, 2014).
While Panasonic will not be producing 2014 plasmas, the current models are still available and this news does not change HD Guru’s recommendations of the top-rated ST and ZT series. If anything, it may make them available at cheaper prices — unless the halt in production causes them to be price-inflated collectibles. (You can read HD Guru's review of the ZT60 here.)
Although plasma has made up the lion's share of its large-screen offerings, Panasonic says that it won't be exiting the TV business, and will continue to sell HD and Ultra HD LCD TVs.
Korean consumer electronics companies LG and Samsung will continue to manufacturing plasma panels and HDTVs. We asked both vendors for comment on their future plasma plans. LG responded with a brief statement: "LG Electronics has previewed our 2014 line for key retailers, and we plan to introduce new LG plasma HDTVs at CES 2014." Samsung's statement was similar:
Samsung remains committed to the plasma TV category. We have an award-winning line of plasma TVs that boast excellent picture quality and features, and consumers and videophiles alike can expect to see additions to this line in 2014.
The Samsung’s F8500 captured our top rating and the review can be found here.
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