Panasonic to Keep Developing Plasma, After All

Reports that plasma development has ceased are not correct, says Panasonic VP.

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Reports of plasma's demise have been greatly exaggerated. Earlier this week, The Verge reported that Panasonic has ceased development of new plasma panels, and that the panel in the ZT60 flagship TV is the last one that will come from Panasonic's research and development team (though they planned to manufacture new TVs using existing panels through 2014). The confirmation came directly from Panasonic Display Vice President Kiyoshi Okamoto at an event in New York to show off the ZT60, according to The Verge.

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We reached out to Panasonic for comment, and got a different answer altogether. "Reports that Panasonic will no longer develop and manufacture plasma HDTVs are not correct," said Henry Hauser, vice president of the merchandising group at Panasonic Consumer Marketing Company of North America in a written statement.

"The technology incorporated into our ZT Series Studio Master Panel will be the basis for continued plasma display panel development and production," he continued. "We believe there is still room for further improvement and intend to continue to research ways to take our plasma technology to even higher levels where it also has the potential to be applied in our other plasma series in the future."

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Panasonic is known as a stalwart supporter of plasma. The company held the line on the trusty old technology while many other manufacturers turned their focus toward high-end LED TVs. The ZT60 is the TV that's supposed to finally outdo the legendary Pioneer Elite Kuro Pro, a plasma set released in 2008 that is widely considered to produce the best picture quality of any TV, ever. In 2009, Panasonic acquired at least part of the technology behind the Kuro sets when Pioneer exited the TV market, and predictably, Panasonic has made many of the best plasmas of the past few years.

But it wouldn't come as a total shock if Panasonic were to give up on plasma. The company already shifted a number of their engineers to an OLED development team, according to The Verge. The industry at large is intent on producing even higher-resolution displays, and technical limitations would make it difficult to engineer a 4K plasma set. For now, though, the status quo is largely unchanged. Read Panasonic's full statement below:

"Reports that Panasonic will no longer develop and manufacture Plasma HDTVs are not correct.

"This week in New York City, Panasonic demonstrated the latest development of our gapless Plasma panel technology in our 2013 Smart VIERA ZT Series Plasma HDTV. The technology incorporated into our ZT Series Studio Master Panel will be the basis for continued plasma display panel development and production. While the Smart VIERA ZT Series introduces a new level of Plasma picture quality, we believe there is still room for further improvement and intend to continue to research ways to take our Plasma technology to even higher levels where it also has the potential to be applied in our other Plasma series in the future.

"VIERA Plasma HDTVs continue to set the standard for picture quality and black level excellence and the ZT Series is another example of the continued ability of Plasma to evolve and continue to deliver a best-in-class HDTV."

-- Henry Hauser, Vice President, Merchandising Group, Panasonic Consumer Marketing Company of North America

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