Pioneer's KURO plasmas, long regarded by videophiles as the pinnacle of high-definition quality, have fallen victim to the recent economic downturn. Faced with the daunting prospect of selling expensive, high-end flat panel televisions in what is perhaps the worst financial climate since the Great Depression, Pioneer instead opted to cut their loses and close up shop; by this time next year, Pioneer TVs will be no more.
Some analysts are claiming that the failure of the KURO TVs indicate that plasma as a technology is quickly on its way to being completely overrun by LCD. That is not a sentiment that DigitalAdvisor subscribes to, for several reasons. For one, the KURO line was quite exceptional when compared to the average plasma television. They were explicitly designed to be powerful panels for discerning home theater consumers, and as such they carried tremendously large price tags upwards of $3,500 for a 50-inch model. In contrast, similar-sized plasmas from Panasonic or Samsung can be found between $1,000 and $1,500. The difference in quality is not one that will be noticed by most viewers, especially when they're satisfied with their savings.
In short: Pioneer abandoned the primary advantage that plasma TVs have over LCDs, affordability. Panasonic and Samsung, who continue to make excellent plasma televisions, can still consistently beat LCD prices with their sets. As long as plasma televisions exist at price points below their LCD counterparts, they won't be disappearing any time soon. For consumers who are concerned about their finances but still want to enjoy high-definition television, plasma is the best bet for a low-cost, high-quality HDTV.
On the right hand sidebar, you'll see three excellent plasma televisions, representing our top plasma TV picks. These are affordable, well-reviewed, reliable televisions from excellent brands that will satisfy consumers with their size and abilities. Both the Panasonic Viera TH-50PX80U and the Samsung PN50A450P are plasma TVs with 720p resolution. Typically 50-inches is the threshold for 720p; the extra pixels of 1080p resolution start to make a real difference at 50-inches and above, but 720p will still provide excellent HD quality on these models. It'll definitely save you some cash. The Panasonic TH-42PZ85U does have 1080p, for those who desire the full HD experience, but because it's a little smaller, the price point isn't outrageously expensive.
So, despite the histrionic speculation, we think plasma televisions will stick around for a while, as they offer the best high-definition experience for the lowest price. In tough times like these, a plasma television could be a nice way to experience high-quality entertainment without straining to cover the cost.