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LCD TVs to Take Lead by 2007

If you were to look around a major consumer electronics retailer today, you might think CRT televisions had already gone the way of the dinosaur, with most sellers offering only one or two models amid a throng of wider, thinner, and (of course) younger flat-panel models.

And you’d be right: consumers today are increasingly fixated on flat-panel televisions, so much so that market research firm iSuppli is forecasting that 2007 will mark the first year sales of LCD television sets outpace the traditional CRT in the United States. iSuppli predicts sales of LCD TVs will jump from 10.9 million units this year to 17.8 million units in 2007, while CRT sales will languish from 14.4 million units this year to just 10.4 million units next year. By 2010, iSuppli predicts only 2.1 million CRT televisions will be sold, accounting for less than five percent of the total television market.

This summer, research firm DisplaySearch predicted the CRT wouldn’t be displaced by LCD panels as top dog in the global television market until 2009. On a revenue basis, worldwide sales of LCDs overtook CRTs back in 2005.

Some of you, Gentle Readers, may be wondering who would still be buying CRT televisions? Although prices for large-screen CRTs are relatively comparable to large screen LCDs, the CRT still satisfies a market niche for consumers who don’t want to spend $1,500, $1,000, or even $500 on a new television: according to recent figures from DisplaySearch, the average price of a CRT-based television is an affordable $223, compared to just over $1,000 for an LCD-based television and over $2,300 for a plasma-based set. However, the price gap between LCDs and CRTs is narrowing in the middle and lower ranges in the market, both because the costs of LCD panels have fallen, and the cost of CRT sets has actually risen somewhat due to digital tuner mandates. Sales of LCD televisions should be further fueled by the FCC’s mandated conversion to digital broadcasts in February of 2009: many consumers will opt to purchase new digital televisions rather than converters which enable older CRT sets to display digital broadcasts.

Although the picture quality of LCD and plasma technologies is improving, CRT technology has its fans. Digital CRT sets available today handle high-def just fine, and offer better contrast ratios and color than any LCD set. Even if it’s far more awkward to hang them on your wall.

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