Monday, December 17, 2007

HDTV prices continue to drop

If you've been thinking about buying a new high-definition flat-screen television, there may be no better time than now.

Prices have fallen sharply, even in the past year. So called "full high definition" screens once found only on top models now appear on many mid-range ones.

And the technology underlining the most popular flat-screen formats is mature enough that consumers can choose from a range of models and brands that will display great-looking pictures and should last them for years.

While prices are likely to fall further next year, analysts don't expect the steep decline seen over the past two years. And few expect major new technology to change the television market anytime soon.

"There's never been a better time to buy a digital display," said Tim Herbert, senior director of market research at the Consumer Electronics Association, an industry trade group.

Consumers shopping for a flat-screen television have a choice of different technologies. For those looking for a screen smaller than 40 inches, LCD is about the only choice. But for screens 40 inches and larger, plasma rivals LCD. At 50 inches and beyond, digital projection sets are still competitive.

Each of the technologies has its own advantages. LCD screens are often brighter than plasmas, making them more viewable in brightly lit rooms. Plasmas, which are often preferred by videophiles, tend to do a better job displaying blacks and tend to offer better contrast images.

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