|Alas, O Plasma! We mourn your passing. The gods will sing your praises and valiant deeds!|
For the better part of the last decade, the hands-down best display technology available has been Plasma. From their deep blacks, natural-looking color, and overall performance, Plasma has been the videophile’s set of choice. Pioneer’s heralded Kuro and Panasonic’s acclaimed ZT60 sets are seen as the zenith of the technology. Those models are universally acknowledged as the best TVs ever made—even though they are now well out of production.
This year, Samsung and LG, the last remaining manufacturers of Plasma TV sets stood alone. Samsung’s flagship 8500 Plasma series was a contender to the Kuro and ZT60 sets and while it could never deliver the knock-out blow it did manage to yield the best brightness of any Plasma ever measured.
For 2014, videophiles still had Samsung and LG plasma sets to cling to. Now, when the twilight of 2014 hits, plasma TV technology will come to a close as both Samsung and LG have now announced that will be shuttering their plasma display production later in the year. There are a variety of reasons why Plasma’s sunset is upon us—poor brightness on showroom floors, weight, price, inability to get razor thin like LEDs, etc. Some stand as fair criticisms. Others betray ignorance and the pressures of economics.
Yet, even with 4K on the horizon and 4K sets being touted as the “next big thing” I have one thing to say to Pioneer, Panasonic, Samsung, and LG. Thank you. Thank you for delivering an unparalleled in-home experience. Thank you for sticking with the technology.
Yes, I’m sad and still feel that no UHD set on the market today can beat the best plasma. And, while OLED sets have been pushed into the spotlight as plasma’s heir and successor, the reality is that OLED technology has been plagued by production and quality issues and, most importantly, remains far from the reach of mortal enthusiasts.
My advice is simple: If you want the best visual experience available today, then set your sights on the remaining stock of plasma sets before the year is up. Some day, Plasma sets will certainly be eclipsed by another technology. Today is not that day.