Sound Advice: Not yet time to hoard plasma TVs

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Question: In your column, you said that, if Panasonic discontinued plasma, you would probably hoard a few for future use. Since the decision has been announced, do you think now is the time to put a few in storage, just in case?

MATT HATCHER

Venetia, Pa.

Answer: It was widely speculated that if Panasonic pulled the plug on plasma, LG and Samsung would quickly follow suit. The opposite was true. After Panasonic made its announcement, both Korean companies quickly issued official statements expressing their commitment to plasma television and that new models would be introduced in 2014.

I expect LG and Samsung will gain considerable goodwill among audio/video hobbyists for this. In the past it has been easy for me to focus on Panasonic plasmas because of the picture quality, exceptional value, wide model line, and well-executed Smart TV features. Next year you will see more reviews and recommendations of LG and Samsung plasma televisions.

Given that plasma is going to be around a bit longer, I don't know that I would go the hoarding route just yet.

The top LG and Samsung plasmas have picture quality fully competitive with the comparable Panasonic models. It is a lot easier to make a great plasma TV than a great LED/LCD TV because the physical properties of plasma are much better suited for televisions. If Samsung and LG end production of plasma in the future, you will have ample time to get one or two to "future-proof" yourself. Of course, if you see a great deal on a Panasonic plasma now, I wouldn't hesitate to buy it.

Another reason I would not plasma-hoard just yet is OLED and 4K are starting to appear. Both have the potential to be better than a current top-rate plasma display, but it is not known if the potential will be realized.

Question: I know you like the Panasonic ZT60 plasmas. How does the picture compare to the OLED TVs that are now out?

SHELDON WASSERMAN

Milwaukee

Answer: I have not seen them compared side-to-side, but I know of people who have and was told the picture quality is very close, certainly not worth the considerable premium demanded by the OLED model.

OLED is expensive, and the long-term longevity of large displays is unproven. They have been working on it for quite a few years, and it is just now that we are seeing 55-inch OLED TVs.

There is a saying, "It's easy to see who the pioneers are. They are the ones with the arrows in their backs." I've been burned myself buying a very expensive TV with new technology. I bought a $13,000 70-inch Sony Qualia 006 HDTV soon after they were introduced in 2004, and even today if you feed my Qualia a good signal, it still has the best picture I have ever seen.

Unfortunately, Sony's rear projection SXRD technology had a fatal flaw. Most of the SXRD RPTVs produced have failed already, and all others are on borrowed time. As a result, I put my Qualia in my game room and only use it for Blu-ray movies, trying to squeak as much life out of it as I can. Had I known of the problem, I would not have purchased it.


Read product reviews by Don Lindich at soundadviceblog.com.

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