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Mid-size LCD HDTVs Drop Below $1,000 Price Point Print E-mail
Thursday, 01 December 2005
It was only a matter of time before flat HDTVs would drop to a price where the average consumer can seriously justify “roof-testing” that trusty old 27-inch tube CRT television with a sexy, flat HDTV LCD set. That time is now and retailers are being swamped with consumers getting ready to make the move from analog TV to digital HDTV.

While dumping your old set for a thinner, more beautiful mate is a very good idea, there are some potential pitfalls to beware of:

- Make sure any set you buy is an HDTV-ready set. This means that it is either is ready to accept an HDTV signal via a digital cable or a satellite receiver box. The cheapest sets on the market are “EDTV” sets, meaning that they are flat and sexy-looking but will not reproduce HDTV in its full glory. Despite the tempting price, you don’t want such a set. -Look for the HDCP handshake. While video enthusiasts seem to be up for a fight over this potential copy protection scheme, it is a good idea to make sure any new HDTV you get has the HDMI compliance needed so that your Blu-ray or HD-DVD player can speak successfully in HDTV to your new monitor.

- Beware of “off” brands. The lowest prices come from some of the more crazy brands. If you are going to buy an off brand, make sure you find out which big video company is behind them. If they are built by somebody like Philips (think Magnavox) or use something like a Samsung panel, then you are headed in the right direction. Otherwise, make sure you see the set in person before you invest, no matter how tempting the price.

Lower prices on mid-sized HDTVs are proving to be a boon for the television and home theater industry. Some studies suggest that only six percent of the American TV audience is running an HDTV with over 400,000,000 TVs in the installation base of the same market. Clearly, there are a lot of HDTVs to sell. With DirecTV getting more and more local HDTV on their newly launched satellites, there is going to be more and more HD content to light up these screens. Most important is the idea that, as consumers en masse convert by the many millions per month to flat HDTVs, the prices of even the best sets will drop to a level of affordability that will speak to the mainstream. The best news here is that, unlike the early days of plasma and LCD, where sets ate up all of many clients’ budgets, there will now be money left over for excellent speakers and AV electronics in even the most modest theater systems.

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