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Say it ain't so! The Curse of the Kuro strikes yet again. Samsung plans to end plasma panel production by November 30, 2014, marking the end of an era.
According to Reuters UK, Samsung SDI Corp. is exiting the plasma business. It's a very short article that lists November 30th as the target date for the shutdown. In the Reuters piece, a statement from Samsung blames the decision on a decline in demand for plasma displays. Last year, Samsung's own UNxxF8500 plasma line was often cited as one of the best-performing TVs ever made, whereas the curved screen LED-edgelit LCD UHDTVs taking its place are an unknown quantity.
Read the original article here: Samsung SDI says to end plasma panel display production - Reuters UK
It's only been a few days since I went to a local Best Buy and saw Samsung's new curved-screen TVs going up on a wall. Over to the side, I saw a 64-inch Samsung UN64F8500 plasma on open-box clearance. I bought it immediately because just a few days earlier at CE Week in NYC, a Samsung exec told me that the F8500 was going to start to become "hard to find." Since I had already missed out on buying a Panasonic plasma in 2013, I did not want to take any chances—the enduring fame of Pioneer's Kuro plasma is a lesson in how each successive year does not necessarily bring an even-better performing television to market.
When I saw this display go up at a local Best Buy last week, I knew it was the beginning of the end for Samsung plasma.
It's entirely possible that Samsung's decision to end plasma panel production will truly spell the end for the original flat-screen TV technology. LG is the last major TV manufacturer that has not announced an end to plasma production; however, given the current industry trends it's likely that day is not far away. The irony is plasma image quality kept getting better and better but each time a TV maker set a new performance benchmark, it turned out to be the kiss of death for the product line. It happened to Pioneer, Panasonic, and now Samsung. At this point, I'm just glad I found a reference plasma when I did.
I sincerely hope that FALD LCDs and OLED displays can fill plasma's shoes. The new generation of TVs will be more energy efficient, larger, and boast higher resolutions than what plasma offered. Unfortunately, it might take a few years before another display technology matures to the point where it offers the same price/performance ratio achieved by reference plasma HDTVs. Hopefully OLED will become more affordable in the near future; for now, it's a sad day for videophiles who appreciate what plasma has to offer in terms of picture quality.
Here's a recent article I wrote about how I wound up buying a plasma this year, despite all the new LED-lit LCDs on the market: Why I Bought a Plasma HDTV in 2014
Check out this discussion in the Plasma Flat Panel Displays forum: Samsung makes it official
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