- The HCE Video Series
I cannot say that I’m shocked, or even remotely surprised, for I think with the passing of Pioneer’s lauded Kuro line some years ago, it was only a matter of time before Panasonic’s plasma efforts would go tits up. And yet, the news has me, and others, feeling a bit melancholy. It’s not that there is anything wrong with plasma displays -it’s arguable they remain the best option for picture quality available today -it’s just that their time has come.
Through plasma we learned that no longer did our displays have to reside atop bulky furniture, but instead could perch upon our walls like art for all to see and admire. Through plasma we learned not to fall asleep watching SportsCenter for fear of waking up and being forced to watch it for weeks over top of Dancing with the Stars, or whatever program you fancied. Because of plasma’s unwavering defense of picture quality it gave us something to argue about when LCD reared its “ugly” head. It even became cool in a sort of Fight Club way to rock a plasma display as the rest of the world clamored for their wafer thin, edge-lit LEDs. To say you had a plasma meant you were in the know, while everyone else was just posing.
But like all good things, it appears plasma’s reign has come to an end as one of its last true defenders, Panasonic, is calling it quits. That’s right, last month Panasonic shuttered all plasma based R&D and took the first steps in pulling out of the plasma marketplace altogether by 2014. Panasonic has even gone so far as to confirm that their yet to be released ZT Series of panels are the last the company will ever produce. At least they’re going out on a high note, rather than fading away into utter obscurity a la rear projection DLP. Still it’s kind of sad, especially knowing how important a role both Panasonic and their plasma making skills played in transforming the home theater and HDTV landscape.
I wish I could say that Panasonic killed the plasma in favor of something better and more exciting, something that will usher in a new era of flat panel supremacy -but I fear I would be lying. I believe the market killed plasma, not something better. Panasonic says they’re focusing their attention -with some help from Sony -on OLED, but that front has proven as grim as the news that plasma is dead. What’s next for one of the industry’s most storied brands? Hard to tell as I feel even Panasonic themselves don’t really know.
In the meantime, for those of you who demand the very best, it’ll be available come June and it will bear the mark ZT.