http://www.forbes.com/2004/11/30/cx_pp_ii_1130tvs.html?partner=media_newsletter The The Skinny On Flat-Panel TVs Penelope Patsuris, 11.30.04, 8:55 AM ET NEW YORK - This holiday season, shoppers in search of the right flat-panel television have more options than ever before. The shelves at Best Buy (nyse: BBY - news - people ), Circuit City Stores (nyse: CC - news - people ) and Target (nyse: TGT - news - people ) are stocked with televisions that are thinner, bigger and have sharper pictures. They're also cheaper, although by no means inexpensive. Last year's average price for a 32-inch liquid-crystal-display (LCD) high-definition TV was $3,783, according to market researcher iSuppli, while this year that average price is down 37% to $2,379. The irony for anyone who's intent on adorning their living room wall with a sleek-looking plasma: Traditional cathode-ray tube televisions still offer the very best picture quality available. "No one would argue that CRTs are still the benchmark for image quality," says DisplaySearch analyst Chris Connery. Still, according to retailers, most shoppers are happy to forgo the best picture in order to get a flat screen. Consumers won't always have to choose between form and function. Manufacturers like Samsung, Sony (nyse: SNE - news - people ), Pioneer (nyse: PIO - news - people ), Philips Electronics (nyse: PHG - news - people ) and Matsushita Electric Industrial (nyse: MC - news - people ) brand Panasonic are plugging away to close that gap. Digital-light-processing rear-projection televisions are widely available for the first time this year. These sets use semiconductors that are loaded with over one million microscopic mirrors to project an image onto a screen. DLP TVs represent a small segment of the market but are quickly gaining steam because of the compromise they offer. DLPs are cheaper per square screen inch than flat panels but offer picture quality that's on par with them. They come in large screen sizes and although they are rear projection TVs, they're getting much slimmer. RCA's new 61-inch Scenium Profiles DLP TV is just shy of 7 inches deep--thin enough to be wall mounted like a plasma or LCD set, while Samsung's 50 inches pedestal DLP TV is only 20 inches deep. Another promising type of rear-projection TV uses liquid-crystal-on-silicon technology to project programming onto a display. Analysts say the LCOS pictures are exceptional, but these TVs have been slow to take off due to manufacturing difficulties. The category lost some momentum in late October when Intel (nyse: INTC - news - people ) halted its ongoing efforts to make the LCOS chips. However, JVC (another Matsushita brand) and Sony are making LCOS TVs, and they will probably have more of a presence in the market next year. As is so often the case with electronics, there's new technology just around the corner, which may make some shoppers wonder if they should nix a purchase for now. The spoiler this season is the surface-conduction electron-emitter display (SED) TV, which is expected to be in stores by Christmas 2005 from a joint venture between Toshiba (otc: TOSBF - news - people ) and Cannon (nyse: CAJ - news - people ). The buzz is that SED TVs will have the best of any flat-panel picture, on par with that of CRTs and that they'll be much cheaper than LCD or plasma screens. "If it really is less expensive, SED could overthrow plasma," says Gartner analyst Paul O'Donovan. Either way, it's another acronym to add to the long list of terms we'll have to keep straight just to shop for a television. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- You can UNSUBSCRIBE from the OpenDTV list in two ways: - Using the UNSUBSCRIBE command in your user configuration settings at FreeLists.org - By sending a message to: opendtv-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word unsubscribe in the subject line.