Plasma still reigns supreme when it comes to large flat panel TVs, those of 37-inches and above. But as manufacturing efficiencies improve both the quality and cost of LCD TVs, the gap between the two technologies is closing fast.
While the race is far from over, some analysts predict LCD will eventually overtake plasma as the dominant manufacturing method for large-screen flat-panel television sets, much as it has for smaller screens.
With flat-panel televisions emerging as the must-have gift of the season, Panasonic is going on the offensive by talking up the benefits of plasma versus LCD TVs in newspaper ads and through a special concierge service, offered initially in the States.
“We wanted our customers to understand why we took the position in plasma that we did,” said Andrew Nelkin, a Panasonic vice president.
Panasonic makes both types of televisions, but plasma accounts for a greater share of its overall product line as well as all of its TVs over 37 inches, Nelkin said.
Plasma TVs have tended to do a better job showing dark or fast-moving images, and they typically offer a wider viewing angle than do LCD models.
But that is starting to change.
“New LCD plants have come online producing bigger sets, and the prices have dropped significantly, putting a lot of pressure on smaller-sized plasmas,” said Jim Willcox, associate editor of Consumer Reports.
For the month of October, LCD TVs sized 37 inches to 49 inches outsold plasma TVs by a rate of 50 percent to 30 percent, according to the NPD Group. Some manufacturers such as Sony have stopped producing plasma TVs all together and switched production to LCD technology. Nevertheless, Panasonic continues to advocate that in terms of cost and quality, large screen plasma TVs are superior to LCD models.
Panasonic also recently opened its Plasma Concierge service to the public until Dec. 31. Normally available only to Panasonic plasma TV owners, the 1-800 service is staffed by technicians ready to answer all sorts of questions, including, of course, why plasma TVs are better than LCD models.