http://www.tvweek.com/page.cms?pageId=413 November 30, 2006 Flat Panels Now Most Popular TV New study says flat panels, and LCD technology, are gaining groundMore than 50 percent of televisions sold are now flat panels, making the slim style the most popular in North America, according to a new market research study.
Consulting company DisplaySearch released a study on Monday that showed third quarter sales of flat panels, most of which are high definition models, exceeding 50 percent of the market share for the first time.
Meanwhile, despite flat panel prices dropping overall, the average TV price rose 25 percent year-to-year to $549 due to the popularity of the more-expensive style.
Among the flat panel technologies, LCD and plasma, the research showed LCD is gaining some ground. Though plasma growth still outpaces LCD in North America 38 percent to 35 percent, in every other region of the world plasma sales were down, quarter to quarter. While LCDs were up in most regions, and overtook CRTs (traditional tube-based sets) in Europe for the first time.
"The problem is, there are too many players in the LCD space and lots of LCD manufacturing coming on-line in China," said Pete Putman, manager of ROAM Consulting and author column on HD issues.
The increased output of low-cost LCD panels and is manufacturers to undercut plasma prices, particularly in smaller-sized models. Plus, LCD technology is able to produce more panels in the new 1080p format which consumers are clamoring for-even though there's no broadcast or cable programming available in the format.
"The big problem for plasma is the 1080p issue," Mr. Putman said. "The only plasma sets with 1080p resolution are 50" and above. That's a big problem since consumers are tuned into having 1080p in everything where they can get it."
Adding insult to injury for plasma manufactures, this month Consumer Reports magazine released their flat panel reviews. Five LCD panels received "Excellent" ratings in picture quality but, unlike last year's issue, not one plasma panel received the top score.
Though Consumer Reports is often criticized as being less-than-accurate in ranking subjective categories such as audio and video quality, the magazine's influence is strong with shoppers.
The whole plasma-LCD war does have a major upside for consumers. With plasma manufactures struggling to make their sales goals, discounts have been steep this holiday season, with brand-name sets down sharply from even a couple months ago.
This article is part of TVWeek.com's High Definition newsletter, a weekly source of breaking HD news, articles and interviews written by Senior Reporter James Hibberd.
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