They no longer suffer from major burn-in problems. Their prices have dropped enough to be competitive. Every expert prefers their picture quality. Despite all of these things, plasma TVs are still losing out to LCDs in the HDTV market and suffering in the global marketplace. According to market research firm DisplaySearch, worldwide plasma sales dropped 22 percent in the first quarter of 2009 compared to 2008 Q1, with a 5 percent decrease in the U.S.
Numbers like that have led Pioneer to abandon its excellent plasma line and exit the TV business, while Vizio has announced no new plasma sets for this year. The major players left in the space—Panasonic, Samsung, and LQ—are still hanging in there, however, as HD Guru found out when he interviewed officials from each company. All point out that plasma has a price advantage over LCDs when it comes to sets 50 inches and larger, and that market share has picked up a bit in the U.S. as LCD growth flattens.
Of course, plasmas aren't made in smaller sizes, which leaves that segment entirely to LCD sets. LCDs have also closed the gap in picture quality over the years. Still, plasma's technical superiority, save for pricey OLED-backlit LCD models, is hailed nearly universally, so why are roughly one half of larger set buyers still going with LCD technology instead? Are burn-in fears still steering people away from plasma, or do they feel like they'd be investing in a technology that's already lost in the marketplace (a la the Betamax)? Those fears are unfounded, of course, but perception matters in major buying decisions like a new TV. What do you think? Are you still a plasma supporter? Or are you an LCD diehard? Let us know in the TalkBack section.