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TV prices will be at all-time lows this holiday season

Consumer Reports News: December 28, 2011 01:18 PM

If you've held out getting a new HDTV because you thought prices could go even lower, your procrastination should be paying off big time. According to a market research firm, prices for TVs will hit all-time lows during the holidays this year.

According to NPD DisplaySearch, which tracks and forecasts TV prices, the premium you'll pay for some step-up features, such as 3D in all types of TVs, and 120Hz/240Hz technology and LED backlights in LCD sets is falling, though these sets still cost more money.

But overall, the average U.S. street prices for all LCD TV sizes up to 46 inches will be below $1,000 for the first time, and 32-inch LCDs, including those with 120Hz or 240Hz frame rates and LED backlights, will be below $500. The company notes that other pricing milestones that will be reached during the holiday season in 2011 include:

  • 40- and 42-inch CCFL LCD TVs will have average prices below $500 for the first time
  • 40-inch active (shutter glasses) 3D LCD TV will fall below $1,000
  • 47-inch passive (polarized glasses) 3D LCD TV will fall below $1,000
  • 60-inch LCD TV will fall below $1,500, with some promotions for less than $1,000
  • 50-inch 1080p 3D plasma TV will fall below $1,000

DisplaySearch cites slower-than-expected demand, too much production capacity, and an oversupply of inventory for the drop in key component costs, which has resulted in lower TV prices, such as the TV deals we saw during Black Friday.

Even though improvements in manufacturing costs have slowed, consumers still expect continued, significant year-to-year price drops, says Paul Gagnon, NPD DisplaySearch Director of North America TV Market Research. “In an effort to offer more value and entice consumers to focus less on price as a motivating factor, a number of new technologies, like LED backlights, higher frame rates and even 3D, were introduced to boost demand without resorting to price-driven tactics,” he says.

However, consumers have been reluctant to step up to many of these pricier features, especially 3D, where adoption has been slower than expected. DisplaySearch estimates that about 8 percent of the TVs sold—about 2.4 million sets—include 3D. With 3D, higher frames rates and LED backlights still commanding a premium—in some cases, up to 50 percent more than a non-3D, 60Hz model with a conventional fluorescent backlight—many consumers instead choose a basic set with a larger screen size.

DisplaySearch expects prices to drop further in the first half of 2012, though at a slower rate than in the past. But prices could stabilize, and perhaps even rise for some of the more basic models, in the second half of the year.

James K. Willcox

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