Was Plasma Just a Moment?
Is Today's Hottest Technology Already On The Way Out?
By Joe Paone
Until very recently, it seemed every vendor wanted to offer plasma just because of the legitimacy it lent to its whole line, even if it wasn't actually selling a lot of them.There's no question that plasma TVs have been the most important driving force in the A/V industry for several years now. They've not only spurred TV sales, but accompanying audio sales. They are probably also the driving force in the custom install business—what consumer wants to hang one himself? Frankly put, they're probably the most important item in today's product mix. So with all this popularity, why are we hearing so much industry plasma-bashing these days? Particularly from the very same companies that sell the technology?
There's a steady undercurrent of opinion in many quarters that by decade's end or sooner, other display technologies will be eating plasma's lunch in the large-screen category. The pundits say that this will not only hold true for the mass market, but for the custom market as well.
Such an uncertain future for plasma would have been unthinkable five years ago. Along the increasingly upscale environs of the TV "street," plasma was the first thin kid on the block, and its moniker has become nearly synonymous with the flat-panel, hang-on-the-wall television that every American dreams of owning. The word "plasma" has achieved the ubiquitous cultural appeal of "Kleenex," "Coke," even "Google" and "TiVo."
But in 2005 and beyond, LCD flat panels with screen sizes in the 40-inch and higher range will begin crowding plasma's turf, along with ever-thinner, ever-more-attractive, much-less-expensive microdisplay rear-projection TVs based on technologies like DLP and, potentially, members of the LCoS family (JVC D-ILA, Philips Cineos and whatever Intel eventually shows).
In short, the plasma honeymoon may be just about over. Already.