October 27, 2020

Panasonic officially ends plasma TV production


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PanasonicTX-P60ZT65v4From What Hi Fi?

Panasonic has officially confirmed the end of its plasma TV business, with production of Panasonic plasma display panels to cease in December 2013.

Business operations at the three Panasonic PDP factories in Japan will stop by March 2014, with the existing range of award-winning TVs set to be Panasonic’s last.

Rumours have dogged Panasonic’s plasma TV business this year, with the first hints of an end to its plasma TV business coming in March, followed recently by a fresh rumour at the start of October 2013, which was subsequently denied.

In the statement released October 31 2013, Panasonic states that it will end plasma production “in order to create a business structure that can respond to changes in the business environment and to accelerate the growth strategy of the company”.

Panasonic UK has confirmed to whathifi.com that “post-purchase service of Plasma TVs will not be affected and will continue to be available after March 2014”.

Panasonic is bullish, quite fairly, about its strength in the plasma TV market over the last decade or so, having kept faith with plasma for its larger sets, which have been rightly revered in AV circles. The Panasonic TX-P42GT60, TX-L32E6B, TX-P50GT60 and TX-P55VT65B all won best-in-class gongs at our Awards 2013.

The company cites “the rapid development of large-screen LCDs” and “severe price competiton in the global market brought on by the Lehman Shock in September 2008” as reasons for adapting its business away from plasma TV production.

The company also confirms that despite “high appraisal” for its plasma TVs, there had been “declining demand for PDP in the flat panel display market”.

The statement goes on to say, “it was judged that continuing the business would be difficult and a decision was made to stop production”.

PanasonicTXP55VT65B_0The existing Panasonic 2013 TVs will be the last Panasonic plasmas, with the company stating it “will work to develop and provide appealing products which meet the demands of customers, and will aim towards new development of its visual and display businesses”.

The company says it’s “embracing the possibilities with our 4K LCD-LED and other LCD-LED models.

“For example, we are very excited about the recent launch of the world’s first 4K Ultra HD TV with a 4K 50/60p Input designed based on HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort™1.2a specification.

“Panasonic is also working on further developing OLED technology, recently showcasing at IFA 2013 a 4K OLED 55-inch panel prototype produced through the ‘RGB all-printing method’.”

The news comes on the same day that Sony announced a 40% cut in its full-year profit forecast, citing the Sony TV division as one of the struggling arms of the Japanese giant’s business.

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Related story also from What HiFi

Shed a tear for plasma’s demise

By Andy Clough

As news stories go, Panasonic’s announcement today that it’s finally ending plasma TV production in December is one of the least surprising we’ve published recently.

The writing has been on the wall for some time, and despite repeated denials by the company, it was clear to industry observers that it was only a matter of time before the plug was pulled. It will be interesting to see if rival manufacturers follow suit, finally consigning plasma to the technology graveyard.

LG has said that plasma will remain an “important part” of its TV line-up while demand remains, although it tends to focus on the budget end of the market, unlike Panasonic. We’re still waiting for a statement from Samsung to clarify its plasma plans.

Still, given Panasonic’s reputation and heritage in the plasma business, it’s a sad day for home cinema enthusiasts. We’ve long been fans of plasma here at What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision, and I well remember the reverence in which Pioneer Kuro models were held before it withdrew from the TV market a few years ago. In fact, the story goes that Panasonic pinched some of those Kuro engineers to improve its own plasma screens

Panasonic_AmagasakiAnd improve them they did. It’s no coincidence that four out of our six Award-winning TVs this year were plasmas. For ultimate picture quality – deep blacks, superb motion handling and a filmic quality that won legions of fans – they were hard to beat. If you still fancy one, you’d better move fast – Panasonic will officially stop selling them next March.

However, not even Panasonic could overcome the power of market forces and prevent the inevitable. “Due to rapid, drastic changes in the business environment and a declining demand for PDP in the flat panel display market, it was judged that continuing the business would be difficult and a decision was made to stop production,” it says. You can’t get clearer than that.

Read Panasonic’s statement more closely, and you’ll see that production at five of its six plasma factories has already ceased: the Amagasaki P5 and P3 factories suspended production in March 2012, along with closures at the Ibaraki P1 and P2 plants, and the end of production in Shanghai in September 2012. Only the Amagasaki P4 factory (below) continues in operation. The demand and economies of scale clearly just weren’t there.

It’s all a far cry from the company’s bullish pre-2008 expansion plans for plasma technology. But the rise in popularity of LCD/LED screens, and the arrival of OLED and 4K technology, has seen plasma’s share of the market decline dramatically.

PanaTXP60ZT60_0That shouldn’t detract though from the fact that plasma still offers superb performance. In fact, in our recent review of Samsung’s cutting-edge new KE55S9C curved OLED TV, we made the point that at £7000 it costs nearly three times as much as the Award-winning Panasonic TX-P55VT65B plasma (below), which offers comparable picture quality. Not bad for an ‘old’ technology.

So shed a tear for plasma. And if you think your home cinema system deserves a great screen, snap up one of our Award winners sharpish. Panasonic says sales will end in March 2014. We suspect stock may run out well before then.

PHOTO: Panasonic Amagasaki factory

Panasonic Plasma TV’s

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