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Sony gives up on plasma

Sony has announced plans to exit the plasma TV market. The company has been facing increasing pressure in the market and it doesn't own any plasma display panel (PDP) plants to support its business. Sales for Sony PDPs for fiscal year 2005 were down 67% compared to the year before and the company has failed to disclose its targets for the current fiscal year.  Coupled with the enormous amount of backing Sony has committed to LCD, the move to exit the plasma market was almost inevitable.

With PDPs now out of the picture, Sony can now focus its efforts entirely on LCD TV production where it has seen much success. Back in February, DailyTech reported that Sony was number one in global sales for LCD TVs for Q4 2005. To keep up the momentum, Sony and Samsung invested $2 billion USD into the expansion of their jointly owned 7G LCD facility. The investment increased monthly production by 50,000 units per month. Sony is seeing large profit margins for LCD TV panels of 40" and above so the company is focusing on that sector of the market and is preparing for 8G. DigiTimes reports:

In a bid to secure more panels with which to win the large-size TV battle, Sony has signed a contract for the construction of an eighth-generation (8G) TFT-LCD production line through S-LCD, a joint venture with Samsung in July. The new plant is targeted to start production in fall 2007, with a monthly capacity of 50,000 glass substrates.

Earlier this year, Sony had to issue a recall for over 400,000 of its Bravia flat-screen and Grand Wega rear-projection LCD televisions. It was found that affected models wouldn't turn off after prolonged usage.

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By dagamer34 on 8/7/2006 3:49:23 PM , Rating: 2
But in terms of quality, aren't plasma displays better? It may just be the way the TVs are setup in the store, but every time I go compare a plasma set and a LCD set (same source also), plasma always looks better to me because of LCD's often grainy quality.

RE: Quality
By Nightmare225 on 8/7/2006 3:52:55 PM , Rating: 2
Better is nearly never cheaper. ;)

RE: Quality
By 05SilverGT on 8/7/2006 3:59:03 PM , Rating: 3
It's funny because I looked it at the other way around. LCD's look sharp and Plasma looks grainy. That's why I went with a 1080P LCD. It's always best to buy what looks good to you because tastes are different. With that said I didn't even realize Sony made Plasma TV's.

RE: Quality
By exdeath on 8/7/2006 4:09:28 PM , Rating: 3
LCD grainy? Not.

Hmm most LCDs are 1280x720 or 1920x1080 and most PDPs are 852x480 or 1366x768.

The only thing PDP has over LCD is black level but that is going away quickly as LCD contrast and backlighting improves. Other than that:

---LCD has FAR better color (to me PDP always looks like 256 color dithering; lots of banding and breakup in what should be smooth color gradients)

---LCDs support higher resolution and tighter pixel spacing per given screen size due to the design of PDP pixel/electrode structures which requires rather large pixel cells

---current LCDs have fast enough refresh rates now days that ghosting isn't a problem, though this isn't fair to compare to PDP as I've experienced nauseating ghosting on PDPs as well

---LCDs do no use hot plasma gasses and high temperature phosphor, thus no permanent image burn in. If you think it’s a myth or that the problem has been solved by current generation products, ask yourself why vendors are touting image shifting and screen saving functions which aren't necessary on any other display technology including CRT? If burn wasn't a problem they wouldn’t need these features in the first place!

This is my unbiased knowledge of both PDP and LCD as I have neither; I have a 720p LCD and a 1080p SXRD front projector.

RE: Quality
By jskirwin on 8/7/2006 4:32:55 PM , Rating: 3
Ghosting isn't a problem?
I'm not pro, but whenever I see images on LCD I see ghosting. A few weeks back the stores had on the World Cup (beats me why - this is baseball/(US)football territory) and the ghosting was so bad on the units I could barely stand to watch.

The Panasonic TH-50PX60U was simply gorgeous. It was bright from all viewing angles, sharper than the LCD and no ghosting.

Honestly I'm no fanboy of either tech and am happy to watch the prices fall as the quality improves. But if I had an extra $3k that day, that Panasonic would have been mine.

RE: Quality
By RamarC on 8/7/2006 4:42:30 PM , Rating: 2
I've got a Sony 50" LCD and don't find ghosting a problem at all. When watching broadcast content, there's always the chance that the problem lay in the feed. Compression artifacts are common in some broadcast feeds and they may have been squeezing its excessively for the satellite bounce.

Watch FOX's NFL football, NASCAR, or better yet, hockey this season to get a better benchmark. The black puck/uniforms on white ice will definitely point out any ghosting. If you're buying a set, ask them to put in a copy of video essentials and some HD discs.

RE: Quality
By Samus on 8/7/2006 6:19:17 PM , Rating: 2
A Panasonic Plasma literally abliterates any competition from any LCD manufacturer. They have unbelievable picture quality.

RE: Quality
By BladeVenom on 8/7/2006 7:11:31 PM , Rating: 2
As long as you can ignore the humming sound plasma TVs make.

RE: Quality
By Xavian on 8/8/2006 2:03:57 AM , Rating: 2
this is the truth, Panasonic Plasma's put every single LCD TV i've seen to shame. The Contrast and sharpness on a panasonic plasma (even in 720p) is amazing. The only drawback of plasma's is that its difficult to get them up to 1080p resolution since the 'pixels' or rather cells on a plasma are much larger compared to LCD's.

Until the glaring overbearing brightness on LCD's is fixed (probably with OLED's no doubt) i will go with plasma for any TV purchase i make.

Then again, i wish SED came out, since that seems to be the best of both worlds.

RE: Quality
By Xavian on 8/8/2006 2:06:24 AM , Rating: 2
oh and screen burning is simply not a problem after approximately 200 or so hours of use. For those 200 hours i would put the plasma on something that has no permanant logo's or static images.

Once you have completeled 200 hours of burn in, you'll never have to worry about screen burning for the remainder of the plasma's life.

RE: Quality
By DCstewieG on 8/7/2006 4:44:32 PM , Rating: 2
This is my unbiased knowledge of both PDP and LCD as I have neither; I have a 720p LCD...

Did you mean you have a 720p DLP?

RE: Quality
By exdeath on 8/7/2006 5:42:05 PM , Rating: 2
No its a 720p LCD projector and a 1080p SXRD projector.

But the 1" HTPS panels in a LCD HD projector are in no way comparable to a 47" LCD flat panel; so it stands that I don't have either a PDP or LCD panel, just a LCD projector.

RE: Quality
By bigboxes on 8/7/2006 5:11:47 PM , Rating: 2
This is my unbiased knowledge of both PDP and LCD as I have neither; I have a 720p LCD and a 1080p SXRD front projector.

No, you're not biased. :eyeroll:

RE: Quality
By exdeath on 8/7/2006 5:46:33 PM , Rating: 2
The points I have listed favor what they favor, it's not like I'm defending the one I bought because I own neither type of flat panel (and never will now that I know how great a 130” 1080p screen that is only 1” thick looks) If you think I favor LCD because I have a LCD projector, that is invalid, as the 1” HTPS panels in a projector are in no way comparable to the large format panels used in flat panel displays.

To say a .45 is bigger than a 9mm is not bias. The facts point out what they point out.

RE: Quality
By agent2099 on 8/7/2006 5:31:55 PM , Rating: 2
I wouldn't say burn-in is a complete non-issue on current Plasmas, but it can be easily avoided with a 5 minute education on the subject.

RE: Quality
By exdeath on 8/7/2006 6:11:57 PM , Rating: 2
I tend to treat PDP and CRT FP/RP the same when it comes to burn in, but in my experience PDP is even more prone to phosphor wear than even 7”/9” CRT rear projection sets.

It's inherit to the high temperature design which PDP inherits its 'plasma' name sake.

If you are aware of the problem and know what causes it, it can be avoided. For example, never set the contrast and brightness to greater than 50% (certainly don't keep it at 100% full time), don't leave it on 24/7 (use the radio if you want background noise), avoid static images, etc.

The most serious problem is for the heavy gamer, even heeding the above, playing games 24/7, avoiding static image display is next to impossible without limiting your title selection.

Generally plasma is ok if all you do is watch 16:9 video, even 4:3 video centered in a 16:9 screen is known to cause uneven wear.

RE: Quality
By exdeath on 8/7/2006 6:17:17 PM , Rating: 2
BTW I've seen PDPs on store shelves with the string "Component 1080i" burned completely out of the green, leaving a purple shadow in that text over the rest of the video; and this was with sets that couldn't have been on the shelves for more than 3 months given their new model status at the time.

Even CRT rear projection units don't burn in that fast with OSD and CC left on 24/7.

RE: Quality
By kkwst2 on 8/8/2006 1:54:43 AM , Rating: 2
What you're describing isn't burn in, it's uneven wear and isn't permanent. Burn in is etching into the glass/plastics in front of the phosphor panel. That's the only thing that is permanent and is almost unheard of on current panels from major manufacturers. It in theory is inherent to anything that emits light through a panel. It's more of an issue to plasma and CRT because of the intensity of the light and the materials used. However, including myself I know a dozen people with plasma sets, mostly Panasonic, and a few of them use them for extensive gaming. None have had a hint of ghosting, burn-in or uneven wear. It's just not a significant issue for home use. Maybe for commercial use, although we have several Panasonic plasmas at my work which show static images almost all day and don't have burn in.

Also, that wouldn't be caused by the input text of any name brand set, because they're all set to disappear fairly quickly. Perhaps if an external tuner is attached.

RE: Quality
By highlandsun on 8/8/2006 7:16:55 AM , Rating: 2
Uneven wear isn't permanent? How do you make it go away?

I was shocked to notice recently that there are "burn-in" patterns on my laptop's LCD, from a couple apps that I always have on (Trillian contacts in the top right, Seamonkey mail in the bottom right). The laptop is powered on 24/7 but of course the screen is only lit while I'm working on it, more like 12-15 hours a day. The borders of the windows are clearly visible on the screen after the display is turned off.

RE: Quality
By exdeath on 8/8/2006 10:17:47 AM , Rating: 2
LOL you make it go away by displaying the inverse pattern long enough to destroy the rest of the phosphor so the wear is even :P ie: in this case display 0x00FF00 at 100% brightness and contrast for a week constant :P

RE: Quality
By exdeath on 8/8/2006 10:15:58 AM , Rating: 2
The green phosphor was completely burned out. It was visible even when the screen was off. There was simply no more green phosphor where the words "Component 1080i" were displayed.

No doubt the idiots in the store left the OSD/menu settings to "always display"

Regardless of the precautions, I prefer to not even have to worry about it at all. Both my 720p and 1080p projectors look better than any flat panel ever will even at 4x the screen size. Though it is a bit nauseating after several hours of gaming on such large screens... though thats probably a function of not having wireless controllers for some of the legacy systems thus having to sit too close.

RE: Quality
By Tsuwamono on 8/7/2006 4:58:14 PM , Rating: 1
LCDs are better man, they have better clearity then the Plasmas and when LCDs finally do run out of life.. just replace the bulb... i dont know anyone who would replace plasma for you...

RE: Quality
By lucyfek on 8/7/2006 6:44:36 PM , Rating: 3
honestly there is nothing better than crt when it comes to picture quality (as long as the video is considered), if only the size could be smaller. i have both 27" 720p lcd and hdtv crt and if i had to keep only one of them, lcd would be gone. only in pc desktop enviroment the lcd resolution makes it superior. lcd's picture is bright (too bright, and hard to turn down without further losing details) but contrast in dark areas sucks and ghosting or artifacts can be an issue. besides that it sucks that newer technology seems to burn more electricity than old fashioned crt - big lcds are good for cold climate but in the summer heat they will cook you alive (and force you to pay twice for electricity - tv and ac). plasma seems to be closer in picture quality to crt and i would expect better blacks, slightly less bright whites, no ghosting, scaling artifacts (fixed resolution - same as lcd). power usage - have no clue, but don't expect it to exceed that of large lcd. since there are plasmas with resolution same like lcds i would go with plasma if i had money to spare. lcd are usually cheaper but i'm not going to upgrade mine until they fix the quality issues i mentioned (if ever) or i'll wait till oled takes over lcds.

RE: Quality
By RussianSensation on 8/7/2006 7:00:51 PM , Rating: 3
1. Plasma's have 60,000 hours lifespan. If you plan to keep your TV for that long, then I would assume it is a problem. On the other hand DLP, and projection LCD require $250-300 lamp replacement every 8-10,000 hours. So once you start adding up the cost, it really isn't in favour of LCDs, DLPs, etc.

2. If you've ever watched standard, non-HDTV, on an LCD you'll quickly notice it cannot compare to plasma and the images appear really grainy. You can see that the dots on the LCD do not refresh fast enough with new colour.

3. At the end of the day, it can be argued that none of the HDTVs today can offer good image quality. Why so? Because majority of TV channels are not in HDTV (maybe 10-15 in canada for example). Not to mention Blu-Ray and and HD-DVD have ridiculous premiums. Just like most technology, be it dual core processors, 64-bit computing and high definition TVs, until it becomes mainstream (i.e. most ppl own it), you cant really take advantage of it since either the software, the singal feed or the media is just not up to the level where it needs to be to justify the investment.

RE: Quality
By feelingshorter on 8/7/2006 8:18:41 PM , Rating: 2
I doubt plasma's last that long or maby they improved. I remember a while back that plasmas would just die out after 2-3 years. LCDs dont appear grainy. Perhaps you were comparing it to a low quality LCD. LCDs for computers are improving a lot too, with much faster refresh times. I had a friend who used a 32inch ViewSonic TV as his main computer screen to watch movies, play games, etc. Works great.

RE: Quality
By kkwst2 on 8/8/2006 2:04:11 AM , Rating: 2
Well, I've had a plasma for 2 years and I have not noticed any decrease in brightness. Brightness has been set on a few bars below 50% from day one and it's still beautiful and easy to watch in a sunny room. I'm sure life is only getting better on newer sets.

A 32 inch lcd tv has only 768 vertical resolution (maybe some have 1080, but not the viewsonic). Unless you're computing from 10-15 feet away, this stinks. IMO, his money would have been better spent on a 24" LCD monitor from Dell, which would usually be cheaper. But to each his own.

RE: Quality
By Fnoob on 8/7/2006 9:24:16 PM , Rating: 2
At the end of the day, it can be argued that none of the HDTVs today can offer good image quality


I've been in the market for a sub $3K ~40" panel for a few months, and I've come to the following disappointed conclusion:

We are all getting milked for old, dated-tech inventory that must be cleared out. That explains the dearth of 1080p support from all conspiring manufacturers. Once sales get stagnant enough to convince them they've squeezed us enough, they will roll out the new eye candy to get us clamouring again.

Seriously, if Apple (and recently Dell) have had ~2500x1500 available for quite some time, why not Sony, LG, etc by now? Seems it would be easier to produce that resolution in a 40+" panel than a 30". Dammit, I want a $3K+ display to be better than this Dell2405.

I've not truly been "wowed" yet out of my money. But, please do bring it on...

RE: Quality
By masher2 on 8/7/2006 9:31:32 PM , Rating: 2
> "if Apple (and recently Dell) have had ~2500x1500 available for quite some time, why not Sony, LG, etc by now? "

What good would that resolution do you in an HDTV, given its nearly impossible to find 1080p material...and anything above that is nonexistent, and likely to be for some time.

Honestly, the whole resolution issue is getting far too much attention...mostly from people who don't actually have a set, and aren't likely to for some time. The incremental image quality difference between 720p/1080i and 1080p is tiny at best, and can be more than outweighed by other factors, such as contrast ratio, color fidelity, response time, etc. And *all* those factors are heavily dependent on the quality and nature of the source video itself.

RE: Quality
By abhaxus on 8/8/2006 12:50:58 AM , Rating: 2
plasmas look better up close, LCDs begin to approach the quality of a PDP as you get further back. however, in most stores you can't get more than 8-10 feet from the TVs because of the aisle setup. i work in a store where you can stand 20-30 feet back if you want to, and at these distances there is very little difference in noise and graininess between the two technologies.

anyone who tells you that LCDs look better than plasma is full of it. it is simply impossible to have that opinion objectively. LCDs cannot and will not ever provide as vivid, dark, and noise-free an image as a plasma. however, they have numerous other advantages that keep them selling, not the least of which is the backlight which is replaceable on some models and also of course that they soon will be cheaper to manufacture.

if i were a rich man i would have a pioneer pro-fhd1 in my living room and a sony SXRD in my theater room. LCD and DLP do not cut it (well, dlp does, but i am unfortunately sensitive to the rainbow effect).

RE: Quality
By exdeath on 8/8/2006 10:30:31 AM , Rating: 2
Noise free my ass. Plasma = screen door with its .8" pixel pitch and the color on most sets I've seen, even the Panasonic, looks like a 16.7m color image dithered to a 8 bit .gif. The image on LCD probably looks grainy to most people because the tighter pixel pitch makes the compression artifacts stand out, where the large pixel gaps on plasma hide it a little better much like interlaced CRTs do.

Sorry that’s just what I've seen. I've never really been impressed by plasma, don't know what the hype is. Though I may be spoiled by front projection (I have a Sanyo Z3 and Sony VW100) and CRT (still use a Sony F500R 21" on the PC).

BTW they have 3 chip RGB DLP projectors if you want DLP and can't stand rainbows. The color is constant RGB instead of the sequential color wheel updating so no rainbows.

As for LCD projector, for gaming you cannot beat them. LCD provides the sharpest image and most vibrant color when it comes to gaming with a projector. DLP is better suited for video where it generates a softer blend between pixels (mirror tilt overlap) and trades color accuracy (poor due to a plastic color wheel) with better contrast. It is well known that DLP cannot compete with LCD in color vibrance and sharpness as much as LCD cannot compete with DLP in black level.

Different tools for different purposes. There is no such thing as a perfect display technology.

RE: Quality
By exdeath on 8/8/2006 11:40:29 AM , Rating: 2
Hmm .8" WTF should be .8 mm

RE: Quality
By abhaxus on 8/8/2006 10:11:34 PM , Rating: 2
LCD is terrible for gaming. HDnet ran a great show tonight showing a jazz trumpet player with various singers (sting was one, dont remember the show name). The LCDs simply could not handle the dim but colorful lighting the way the plasmas could. The inky blacks of plasma could not be beat, and also the dark image really showed off the response times of the LCDs. They simply looked terrible whenever the camera panned.

I would be hard pressed if I had $4500 to spend on a TV in the 42 inch size... probably would go for a pioneer elite pdp over a 1080p LCD.

RE: Quality
By exdeath on 8/9/2006 12:09:07 PM , Rating: 2
Like I said I've experienced bad ghosting on both PDP and LCD; My fiancee looked like she was going to puke when playing Metroid Prime on a 50" PDP (was either Panasonic or Pioneer, don't remember)

Not only did it motion blur like crazy (you had to stop every now and then to see clearly enough to get a bearing), it had this murky sea green tint to everything.

And every time I've looked at PDP the black areas look like a dithered mess of grey, green, and purple pixels blotted together. Inky indeed.

In the end I decided to skip flat panels altogether. They just aren't that great, though LCD tends to have more in it's favor.

RE: Quality
By exdeath on 8/8/2006 10:40:26 AM , Rating: 2
To see LCD vs PDP for what they are worth, use a real time 480p or higher feed from a game console where the image is real time generated with vibrant colors and no compression. (or better yet a PC game like UT2004 on a DVI/HDMI link at the native resolution of the panels)

LCD has a much tighter pixel pitch than PDP thus resulting in a more continuous image and this shows up the compression in video more, to the point of being painful to look at anything that isn't high bitrate high def or real time uncompressed images.

This is *exactly* why you say plasma looks better up close. Up close the large interpixel gaps of plasma helps break up the compression macroblocks while that compression becomes glaringly obvious on a LCD at close distances.

Again no bias, I'm just stating my knowledge and experience in my quest for "the perfect screen" that eventually led me to bypass flat panel displays altogether.

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