End of an era: Panasonic calls it quits on plasma TVs

Panasonic TC P55ST60 front angle

If you’ve been considering a TV purchase for this holiday season, then drop what you’re doing, head to your favorite online or brick-and-mortar electronics retailer and scoop up one of Panasonic’s outstanding plasma televisions right now. Why the rush? Because Panasonic won’t be making plasma TVs anymore; and unless Samsung decides to carry the torch (which, sadly, is doubtful), videophiles everywhere are going to have nothing to buy until OLED becomes affordable. 

The rumors have been swirling around for months now. Even as we heaped praise on Panasonic after our first glimpses of its VT60 and ZT60 series plasma televisions earlier this year, we wondered if this year’s units might collectively represent the company’s swan song for plasma. Now, according to a report by Reuters, it is official: Panasonic will stop selling plasma televisions by March 2014 – that’s if supplies even last that long. 

In our recently published review, we said Panasonic’s ST60 series plasma televisions are the best deal in TV…ever, but had we known the model might soon disappear from store shelves, we might have issued a stronger call to action, much as we’re doing now. 

This year, Panasonic and Samsung both issued plasma televisions that rivaled the vaunted Pioneer Kuro. For years the industry awaited the arrival of a “Kuro-killer,” and when we saw Samsung’s F8500 plasma, it seemed clear 2013 would be the year we saw not one Kuro-killer, but three. When the VT60 and ZT60 arrived at our offices, our suspicions were confirmed. 

But it was the lower-priced ST60 that shocked us most. Here we had a TV that offered the sort of performance only seen from top-tier models in years prior, but at unprecedentedly low prices. Today, a 60-inch Panasonic P60ST60 television can be had for $1500 from authorized retailers online. 

Part of what makes plasma superior to LED LCD televisions is its ability to produce exceptionally dark black levels paired with recent improvements in brightness capabilities. The result is outstanding contrast that can not be matched by LED LCD TVs. Then there’s a lack of motion blur and superior screen uniformity. Only OLED can best plasma when it comes to picture quality, and OLED is still far from affordable. 

Affordability is also one of plasma’s admirable attributes. For years now, plasma has come in considerably less expensive that comparably-sized and featured LED LCD TVs. And perhaps that’s the problem. With unhealthy margins and something of a public relations problem, its probably fair to say that plasma has been doomed for some time. 

So what are videophiles to do until OLED – the only technology that can compete with plasma – becomes affordable? It may be that we’ll just have to wait things out. And there’s no better way to do that than with a fresh, new plasma TV. 

Panasonic has stated that plasma research and development efforts will likely be diverted to OLED. One can only hope that will mean that healthy competition among Panasonic, Sony, LG and Samsung will help scale production of OLED up while driving costs down. 

Mobile

Why premium is the most overused, and least understood, word in tech

Everyone has heard the word premium, and many of us will have purchased a premium product, but what does premium actually mean, and why is it used so much in tech? Here's why it's so popular.
Deals

Amazon drops price on Apple Watch Series 4 with a rare deal

Since Apple first unveiled the Series 4, the price for one has pretty much held fast. This has finally started to change with a nice little $15 discount on Amazon. If you've been wanting the newest Apple Watch, now is a great time.
Emerging Tech

Robot assistants from Toyota and Panasonic gear up for the Tokyo Olympics

Japan plans to use the 2020 Olympics to showcase a range of its advanced technologies. Toyota and Panasonic are already getting in on the act, recently unveiling several robotic designs that they intend to deploy at the event.
Home Theater

The best TVs you can buy right now, from budget to big screen

Looking for a new television? In an oversaturated market, buying power is at an all-time high, but you'll need to cut through the rough to find a diamond. We're here to help with our picks for the best TVs of 2019.
Movies & TV

Study up for season 8 with the best Game of Thrones theories

Season 8 of Game of Thrones is still on the horizon, meaning there's still time to brush up on the best theories about the show. Whether you're one of the last adherents of the Cleganebowl or a King Aerys truther, here are our top theories.
Home Theater

The best Dolby Atmos movies for your home theater sound as good as they look

If you've got your hands on some sweet Dolby Atmos gear, the next step is to find films that take advantage of it. These are our picks in several genres for the best Dolby Atmos movies currently available on Blu-ray and streaming services.
Product Review

Simple and reliable, Apple's AirPods are among the best fully wireless earbuds

Apple’s AirPods wireless headphones have dominated the market essentially since they hit stores in December 2016. Though not without some faults, they cracked the connectivity code to rank among the best fully wireless earbuds you can…
Computing

Great PC speakers don't need to break the bank. These are our favorites

Not sure which PC speakers work best with your computer? Here are the best computer speakers on the market, whether you're working with a tight budget or looking to rattle your workstation with top-of-the-line audio components.
Deals

Building a 4K home theater? Grab a discounted Denon A/V receiver from Amazon

Denon makes some of the best 4K A/V receivers on the market, and a handful of Denon’s latest models are on sale on Amazon now. If you’ve been thinking about building a home theater and are looking for a 4K receiver that doesn’t cost…
Home Theater

Apple’s new AirPods bring only minor updates to the much-loved originals

Apple has announced its new AirPods, the much-anticipated follow-up to Apple's wildly popular AirPods. With optional wireless charging and hands-free Siri, it's a minor update, but a welcome one.
Home Theater

Here are some common AirPods problems, and how to fix them

Apple’s AirPods are among the best fully wireless earbuds we’ve seen, but they’re not perfect. If you’re having trouble, take a look at our guide to the most common problems and what you can do to fix them.
Home Theater

ESPN Plus scores the exclusive rights to UFC Pay-Per-View events

If MMA is your game, then ESPN Plus is now a very important player. The Disney-owned service locked up the exclusive rights to UFC Pay-Per-View events, a deal that will last through 2025 in the United States.
Home Theater

Dish TV customers can access up to 13 NCAA March Madness games in 4K

If you're a basketball fan looking to get your fix of NCAA Championship action in 4K, Dish TV will be airing up to 13 of the tournament games in the ultra high-def format, starting on Tuesday.
Home Theater

Cheer for your favorite NCAA team and Xfinity will respond with matching lights

Screaming at your favorite team just became a lot more rewarding thanks to Comcast's Xfinity voice remote and some special NCAA commands that set your smart lightbulbs to your favorite team's colors.