Update 10/29/2014: LG today formally announced it is shutting down its plasma display panel (PDP) production factory tomorrow. In a matter of months, plasma TVs will no longer remain on store shelves. Only one other manufacturer, China-based Changhong, continues to make plasma panels. LG did not comment on whether its PDP production facilities would be re-purposed for any specific display type, but it did reiterate its commitment to furthering its LED/LCD and OLED panel production. LG remains at the front of the pack when it comes to OLED TV production, having recently released the world’s first 4K OLED televisions in 65- and 77-inch sizes.
If you’ve been following the slow death of plasma, it won’t come as much of a surprise that LG is getting ready to leave plasma displays behind in favor of newer technology. LG was one of the last major players in the industry still producing plasma displays, and it hasn’t been shy about discussing OLED and LCD displays as the future of its business.
During a recent press conference announcing the consumer release of its flagship 4K OLED TVs, president of LG’s Home Entertainment division, Ha Hyun-hwoi, took the opportunity to discuss the state of the different leading display technologies. Despite standing in front of a pair of huge new OLED TVs, Ha felt that the consumer demand was still too low in the consumer market for them to focus on the new display technology, but noted that “if customers decide the OLED TV is the best, the market for the OLED TV will be established.” A number of companies have begun producing OLED televisions in earnest, but they’re notoriously tricky to produce and are still on the expensive side, so they haven’t taken over a significant market share from LCDs yet.
There hasn’t been a press release confirming the move, but Ha mentioned that LG is in the process of researching the market to figure out when it should suspend production of PDP panels. LG’s plasma displays certainly won’t disappear overnight. When Samsung shutdown its plasma division in July, the company set the actual sales end date for November, and Panasonic’s earlier announcement that it would stop producing plasma displays at the end of 2013 saw sales ceasing in March of this year.
With LG getting ready to call it quits on the technology, there won’t be many places left in the world to get your plasma TV fix, so discerning viewers who favor plasma for its higher contrast and better motion performance than LCD displays will have to bank on the more expensive OLED displays, which are creeping into the market. Coincidentally, today’s news comes right on the heels of LG’s announcement that it has slashed the price of its 55-inch 55EA9800 OLED panel, which comes in at a manageable (but still spendy) $3,500. There’s little question that LG and others are pointing the plasma faithful towards OLED.
For now, LG is focusing on promoting LED LCD panels and (to a lesser extent) OLED as the two sides of its production track, readying the move from the waning world of plasma. We’ll keep you updated about LG’s official announcement, but if you’ve been contemplating throwing down cash for that LG plasma you’ve had your eye on, better do it soon – it might just be your last chance.