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Bad Gas? Pioneer officially ditches TVs, Vizio abandons plasmas

Is plasma going to be the Betamax of HDTV technology? Despite still being regarded as providing better image quality than almost all LCD-based sets, plasma TVs have been on the losing side of the flat-panel equation for some time now.

Is plasma going to be the Betamax of HDTV technology? Despite still being regarded as providing better image quality than almost all LCD-based sets, plasma TVs have been on the losing side of the flat-panel equation for some time now. And the latest news isn't any more encouraging.

Last week, I posted a rumor that Pioneer was exiting the TV business, which the company neither confirmed nor denied at the time. A few days later, the electronics firm has made it official: no more plasmas from the leading (at least in terms of technology) plasma manufacturer. Pioneer is also halting its fledging LCD business.

When I was at CES last month, I noticed during my briefing with Vizio that no new plasmas were being shown. I asked if the company was through with plasmas and was told no, but that "no" was pretty short lived, as Vizio has announced that it is stopping plasma production to concentrate on its more successful LCD business. That leaves much of the plasma market in the U.S. to Panasonic and Samsung, but while prices on plasmas have plummeted over the last year or so, consumer preference has remained strongly for LCD HDTVs. Is plasma still going to be a viable option for a TV, say, three years from now? Or to ask it another way:

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