Plasma TVs A Potential Threat To LED HDTV Sales?

Plasma televisions have been on the decline for the past few years, especially with the likes of cheaper LCD televisions. But things might be changing. Plasma displays have had a very impressive comeback in 2010, and it must raise the question of whether or not the old dog has some tricks up its sleeve.

In 2010, plasma televisions sales improved every quarter, something that hasn't happened in quite awhile. This is impressive considering the incredible threat from cheap LCD televisions, even more so when you consider the newer LED backlit televisions. The competition is so fierce that even the slightest performance improvement is considered very impressive.

DisplaySearch's Quarterly Global TV Shipment and Forecast Report noted that there was a one percent quarter-to-quarter and nine percent year-to-year growth in the fourth quarter of 2010, with shipments totaling 5.2 million units. Plasma production in China also started picking up, which could have lead to lower prices of plasma displays and more sales (especially in the 42-inch range, which is where some of the best value is found with televisions today).

Why Plasma?

But the question is why has plasma had such a resurgence? It isn't immediately obvious, but it appears that consumers are beginning to realize the true value of plasma televisions. In fact, there is nothing technically wrong or incredibly inferior about plasma when considered against LCD and LED displays. Some might even argue that their are advantages to plasma technology.

For instance, plasma displays can be significantly cheaper than their LCD and LED counterparts. This is especially true when the sizes of the televisions increase. The better value could lead those consumers who seek larger televisions at a great value to opt for the plasma screen technology instead of the newer LCD and LED equivalents. This could have played a big part in their resurgence.

Another reason plasma displays could be selling well is because of the technical advancements that have been made in the past few years. Plasma televisions no longer suffer from problems like burn-in and inferior performance. In fact, plasma displays can look far better than LCD televisions.

Plasma displays are also not as power hungry as they once were. A huge issue with plasma displays in the past was that they used too much power, thus adding to the electric bill. They also offended many of the eco-friendly supporters around the world, leading LCD manufacturers to heavily push the fact that their televisions were much more efficient. And while it is true that LCD and LED televisions are more eco-friendly, plasma displays have caught up these days and are even becoming competitive in the power consumption race.

All of those sound great, but one of the biggest selling points is that plasma offers a great 3D TV experience. As you may or may not know, Hollywood has been pushing 3D content hard over the past year or two, with every blockbuster seeming to have a 3D component to it. This is important to Hollywood for selling tickets and it is also important for television manufacturers — the industry is putting a lot of stock into this technology.

Plasma displays just so happen to offer an arguably superior 3D presentation to the users. Some have argued that this superior performance has helped contribute to more plasma sales in the past year. These displays offer a better picture and significantly less flicker, providing users with a great viewing experience. And these displays are expecting to get bigger, from 40 inches to 150 inches.

And the last reason plasma could be improving so much is that plasma televisions are genuinely of great quality recently. They used to be considered the cheaper technology, but manufacturers have come into their own with impressive offerings in the plasma television market.

The Future

This is a good sign that plasma technology can still put up a fight, and might even win over some customers as the 3D craze intensifies. Some manufacturers have abandoned plasma televisions in 2009 and 2010, but this might give them new hope. However, I still expect that LED televisions will eventually supersede technologies like plasma — it just might take a few more years to do that.

As for the impacts on LED televisions, I think it could be great. It will give consumers an alternative, and with plasma pricing sure to decrease further in the future, it will force display manufacturers to compete on pricing with LED displays as well.

Either way, though, it is a great deal for consumers, as competition is king.