No two ways about it, 2009 was a bad year for plasma. How else could you describe a year where the so called king of plasmas -- and to many, HDTVs -- exits the market? It was a hard enough hit when Kuro lovers learned that Panasonic would be manufacturing 'em instead of Pioneer, but when at the last minute Pioneer canceled the plan before the first Panasonic-branded-Kuro ever shipped, plasma lovers everywhere died a little inside. But all was not lost and Panasonic, Samsung and LG proudly continued on and didn't miss a beat when Vizio joined the quitters of 2008 -- Panasonic even opened the biggest plasma plant yet in 2009. Panasonic did step up, and by some accounts filled the void left by the Kuro by managing to win most of the best of awards of 2009; only to be tarnished by reports that the black levels were depreciated faster than expected.
But the year wasn't all bad, as plasma prices dropped and in the second quarter of last year it actually did pretty well. Then at CES 2010 Panasonic's 3D plasma demo stole the 3D show, and early reports showed that the new line offered even better blacks and a better 3D effect than LCD TVs. So while there are no signs that plasma will ever be the king of flat screen TVs, it has proven for yet another year that although LCDs garner the lion's share of HDTV sales, plasma still owns a piece of the market and offers some advantages over the competition. So while the LCD vs plasma debate has never been as fun or as meaningful as a format war -- after all it isn't like choosing one excludes you from viewing content -- it is an interesting battle to follow. In the coming years we expect LCD to continue to push plasma up in size and plasma to push LCD blacker and faster. So the great news is that in the end it is the consumer that is getting better HD viewing options.