Price of 4K TV continues to drop; great buys to be had on plasma

29 Sep
The imminent death of plasma means prices are dropping into the basement. This 60" Samsung Smart TV (with 3D) can now be owned for $999.

The imminent death of plasma means prices are dropping into the basement. This 60″ Samsung Smart TV (with 3D) can now be owned for $999.

By Geoff Meeker

September 29, 2014 – What did I say? In my previous column about 4K high resolution TV, I suggested checking out the new technology at a relaxed pace because the price is going nowhere but down.

But even I didn’t expect it to drop this quickly. Last week, I touched base with David Budden at West End Electronics, who informed me that the price of the 65” 4K Panasonic will drop, from $4000 last week to less than $3000 on October 3 (the price will be $3300 with taxes in).

In case you missed it, I was completely blown away by the 65” 4K. It’s sharper than words can describe but, as noted in the review, is really most effective on larger screens. That is, the naked eye probably won’t discern the difference between regular 1080p and 4K on a screen of 50” or less – so there is no need to scrap your current set!

However, the October 3 price drop will make 4K that much more attractive for anyone who is currently in the market for a big widescreen TV. Be sure to see it for yourself before making a purchasing decision (and read my previous review to fully understand some of the challenges presented by 4K).

In case there was any question about whether 4K is here to stay, consider this: it has already caused the demise of plasma TV.

Yes, you can still buy them – and for some incredible prices, as you will soon see – but the days of plasma TV are suddenly numbered.

“What’s happening is, manufacturers cannot make a 4k plasma panel,” Budden explained. “The technology doesn’t allow it. The 4K technology makes the others obsolete… if you can’t make a 4k panel.”

Budden was quick to add that there is otherwise nothing wrong with plasma TV.

“We were certainly very large proponents of it ourselves. Almost everybody who works in the store owns a plasma TV, but the reality is if you can’t adjust to the new technology you’re going to disappear and that’s what is happening. Panasonic ended production of plasma last fall and Samsung will end their production in November of this year. That leaves one other brand, LG, that we don’t represent and I don’t know what their plans are. But if the two major players leave the market you can pretty much figure out what’s going to happen.”

This may be bad news for plasma manufacturers but if you’re in the market for a new TV it’s cause for celebration, because prices on plasma are going into nosedive.

According to Budden, you can now purchase a 60” Samsung plasma smart TV – with 3D, no less – for just $999.

“That’s a ridiculous bargain. We sold everything we had last week after the price drop and have more coming now and apparently it’s going to stay at that price until they run out of inventory. If somebody needed to replace a TV now and they’re not prepared to make the jump to 4K, it’s an extremely attractive bargain, even compared to a 60 inch LED, which is closer to 2 grand for a good one… I would have no qualms recommending or owning a plasma myself. I do own one, and have for a number of years.”

These prices are not unique to West End Electronics. Check out the web sites of Future Shop, Best Buy and other electronics retailers and you will find similar price cuts across the board. There could be future price drops but bear in mind that inventory is limited.

Incidentally, the picture quality of plasma is considered by many to be superior to that of LED, with more accurate colour, better contrast, darker blacks and wider viewing angles.

Is it risky to purchase a sunset technology? Will there be parts and service available if a unit breaks down? Yes, according to the July edition of Consumer Reports magazine.

“The question… asked most frequently is whether someone buying a plasma TV this year should be nervous that they won’t be able to get the set repaired if something breaks,” wrote James Willcox. “Thankfully, TVs from major brands have been very reliable according to our annual surveys. And Samsung and LG are major brands that will continue to back up their sets with parts and service.”

So much to consider! I will soon be in the market for a new TV and must say, I’ve got my eye on that plasma. It would serve me well while I wait for broadcasters to catch up – and prices to fall further – on 4K.




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