Long Live Plasmas?
Telling Customers About Plasma's Darker Side
By Joe Paone
Techies, and most salespeople, know all about the inner workings and potential pratfalls of plasma display technology. But lots of customers don't.
That creates an ethical, not to mention bottom-line, dilemma for C-tailers. Should they be proactive and upfront with customers about issues such as burn-in, burn-out and general plasma life expectancy, or should they wait for the customer to ask about such issues? Do they know or care that once something in a plasma goes irreparably bad, the whole set might have to go? And are plasmas really any more of a risky proposition for consumers than a conventional TV anyway?
Obviously, nobody wants to rain on the plasma parade, particularly when flat-panel TV is the industry's hottest hitter right now. But more and more consumers, fueled by misunderstood — or worse, inaccurate — infor-mation from the media and friends, are beginning to warily ask how long they can expect their expensive new TV to last. We wanted some answers to these, er, burning questions, so CR spoke to several C-tailers, integrators and manufacturers to ask what their party line was.
NO RIGHT ANSWER
By most industry accounts, the typical consumer expectation of usable product life for a television is seven to ten years. According to Tony Favia, senior product manager of flat panel television for Sharp, life expectancy in hours for plasma ranges from "30,000 for the best, but 20,000 for the vast majority." That jives with most current product manufacturer claims.
According to Nielsen Media Research, the average American household watches 7.5 hours of TV per day. That figure is misleading, of course, since households have more than one TV. But even if everyone in the house watched the plasma for all that estimated time, the math would seem to work out. At a conservative 20,000 hours, that would work out to over seven years of use. Everyone's happy, right?