Panasonic predicts the death of direct LED TVs

Panasonic IFA 2010
Panasonic thinks the future belongs to plasma and Edge LED in the TV market

Direct LED TVs will soon disappear from the shelves and be replaced by cheaper Edge LED and plasma screens. That's according to Markus Wagenseil, Panasonic's technical marketing manager.

Speaking to TechRadar in Berlin last week, Wagenseil said that Direct LED technology is not viable and will be extinct within two years.

"For direct LED LCD we don't feel there is a market any more because the price pressure on TVs is incredibly high," he said.

"[There are so many more] LEDs that you need to mount in comparison to Edge LED, and anyway there are big shortages in LED production, so I don't think there is a market for direct LED."

Of course, this begged the question – if there's no market for Direct LED TVs, why are there so many coming out from the likes of LG and Philips?

"I would put it more the other way around," said Wagenseil, "more and more companies are dropping the concept. Edge LED is the way forward for the LCD market."

The Panasonic man also cast doubt on LCD's prospects for finally overhauling plasma in terms of picture quality.

"Comparing CCFL with Edge LED I think most people would agree that in terms of picture quality Edge LED is not a big gain. It was a gain in slimness and it was a gain in power consumption, but in terms of picture quality this technology has some serious disadvantages."

The riposte

Of course, it goes without saying that other TV manufacturers have a totally different opinion on the prospects of Direct LED's future as a viable technology.

Danny Tack, the mastermind behind much of Philips' LCD advances over the last few years, says that Direct LED is viable and has a future.

He told TechRadar that Direct LED tech will continue to be developed until it's possible to make TVs as slim as those using Edge LED.

"It is expensive, that's true. But it also makes a difference, so if you position yourself and develop it right you can find a compromise between cost and performance. And I strongly believe as Philips, where we have lots of direct LED products with quite a substantial amount of segments because that makes sense for the performance, that there is a market for it and we will continue so.

"For me the challenge is to get the Direct LED as thin as the edge-lit. We see that people are willing to pay for this kind of performance, so what we need to do now is combine that with the thin form-factor of edge-lit – keep the performance and make it thinner. And then direct LED will remain to exist."

What does it all mean?

It's not massively surprising that Philips is still keen on Direct LED - after all, it doesn't make any plasma screens at all and Direct LED represents the top-end in terms of LCD tech.

However, it is more surprising that Panasonic - which makes both LCD and plasma TVs - would condemn Direct LED so swiftly. Wagenseil refused to comment on whether Panasonic is going to change its strategy in terms of its LCD business, but if it doesn't see a future in Direct LED it's hard to see them persevering with the tech.

Wagenseil and Tack also both had some extremely interesting and contrasting views on the merits of plasma and LCD tech in terms of 3D performance, so check back soon for more on that.

James Rivington

James was part of the TechRadar editorial team for eight years up until 2015 and now works in a senior position for TR's parent company Future. An experienced Content Director with a demonstrated history of working in the media production industry. Skilled in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), E-commerce Optimization, Journalism, Digital Marketing, and Social Media. James can do it all.