Is it Time to Buy That 50-Inch Plasma TV? (1 Viewer)

cablewithaview

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HDTVs will account for more than 70 percent of television sales by 2010 the study estimated. But is HDTV worth it? Analysts say high-definition technology has the potential to revolutionize TV viewing the way that color did decades ago.

Should you or shouldn't you this holiday season?

New brands, deep discounts, and increased production are pushing prices of high-definition television sets even lower this year. Consider: Circuit City (NYSE: CC) Latest News about Circuit City is offering a 42-inch Samsung plasma for US$2,700, slashing $800 off the regular price, and Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) Latest News about Best Buy is peddling newcomer Maxent's 42-inch, HD-ready plasma for $1,800. And last month, Fujitsu of America rolled out rebates of $500 or $1,000 on each purchase of its high-end plasma models.

"There's more players in the market, there's more display technologies, and if you look at most of the manufacturers' lines, we're seeing less standard definition and a lot more high definition being produced," said Joni Blecher, an analyst at technology and consumer research firm Jupiter Research in New York.

Falling Prices

Since HDTV technology hit the mass market in the late 1990s, the average cost -- especially for lightweight, flat-panel models -- has fallen by several thousands of dollars. Last year, the average sale price of HDTV sets dropped to $1,416.90, nearly 11 percent less than in 2003 and 55 percent cheaper than in 1998, according to Consumer Electronics Association, an Arlington, Va., trade group. Analysts say HDTV prices have continued to decrease considerably this year.

Twelve percent of American households had at least one high-definition television at the end of last year, but that is projected to double to more than a quarter of U.S. homes by the end of 2006, according to Jupiter's latest report on the topic. Much of the growth, the report said, will be fueled falling prices.

And prices don't have to go that low for people to take the HDTV plunge. Among consumers who plan to buy a high-definition set in the next 12 months, the largest chunk -- 42 percent -- said their budget for the purchase was between $1,001 and $2,500, according to Jupiter data. Twenty-two percent planned to spend between $500 and $1,000, and only 4 percent planned to spend more than $5,000.

No wonder HDTVs will account for more than 70 percent of television sales by 2010 the study estimated.
Congress Leaves Consumers No Choice

Another reason: Congress intends to shut off traditional analog signals in 2009, forcing broadcasters to transmit in a digital format. HDTV is by far the clearest and most popular of digital standards.

The current demand for HDTV has also been fueled by the housing boom. Consumers who bought or remodeled their homes have been adding big televisions and surround-sound systems to create a movie theater experience at home.

So is HDTV worth it? Analysts say high-definition technology has the potential to revolutionize TV viewing the way that color did decades ago. "High definition" refers to a television set that uses any of four different display technologies -- plasma, liquid crystal display, projection, and direct-view cathode ray tube (CRT). These technologies deliver a digital picture that is stunningly sharper than standard definition analog TVs.

Plasma sets tend to have the largest screens -- generally between 40 and 60 inches -- but are also so lightweight and thin that they can be mounted on a wall. They are also generally the most expensive of all HDTVs, typically more than $2,000 per model. LCD televisions are also light and thin, but they come in smaller screen sizes -- usually between 20 and 32 inches -- with many of the smallest models priced at less than $1,000.

Projection and CRT sets are both bulky and take up considerable space. CRTs generally have screens of between 13 and 36 inches and cost well under $1,000. Projection sets have screens of 42 inches or larger and start at about $1,000.
Unknowns Battle Big Names

The demand for HDTV has attracted little-known brand names into a market traditionally dominated by such names Sony (NYSE: SNE) Latest News about Sony and Sharp Electronics. Maxent calls itself an affordable line of LCD and plasma TVs, and it is owned by Regent USA of City of Industry, Calif. Insignia is Best Buy's in-house brand.

But the mix of new brands, more models, and a dizzying array of sizes and technologies can muddy the waters for shoppers. Just because a TV is light and thin, it doesn't mean it's an HDTV.

Consider EDTV -- "enhanced-definition television" -- which provides better resolution than a standard definition TV but is not as sharp as HDTV.

Beyond that, there is a difference between a high-definition television set and one that is HD-ready. The latter requires an external video source such as a high-definition cable or satellite hookup, or a separate tuner that can cost hundreds, to display a high-definition picture.

"HDTV sets are available for well under $1,000; the issue is that a lot of people are associating high definition with new display technologies, like plasma and LCD, and those are expensive technologies," said Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis at the NPD Group, a Port Washington, N.Y., research firm.

Rubin said that $1,000 remains an emotional barrier for some consumers who desire the style and sharp pictures of a slim HDTV but have never spent more than a few hundred dollars for televisions.

"'Cheap' is a relative term," said Rubin. "Most people today have chunky, big CRTs in their home, but if they want to get a more stylish device, you're going to pay a premium for that."

http://www.ecommercetimes.com/rsstory/47499.html
 

charper1

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May 18, 2004
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$2000 gets you a perfectly bright and vibrant 250" HD picture from a 9lb, ceiling mounted, 1 cu.ft sized, industry leading projector & professional screen that lays flat on your wall if you want it to. Bulky? Not! Why settle for a 50" Plasma at 2x the cost or MORE?
 

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