Is it time to buy that 50-inch plasma TV?
Prices have steadily fallen on HDTV models with new brands and
By Keith Reed, Globe Staff
Should you or shouldn't you this holiday season?
New brands, deep discounts, and increased production are pushing
prices of high-definition television sets even lower this year.
Consider: Circuit City is offering a 42-inch Samsung plasma for
$2,700, slashing $800 off the regular price, and Best Buy is peddling
newcomer Maxent's 42-inch, HD-ready plasma for $1,800. And last month,
Fujitsu of America rolled out rebates of $500 or $1,000 on each
purchase of its high-end plasma models.
"There's more players in the market, there's more display
technologies, and if you look at most of the manufacturers' lines,
we're seeing less standard definition and a lot more high definition
being produced," said Joni Blecher, an analyst at technology and
consumer research firm Jupiter Research in New York.
Since HDTV technology hit the mass market in the late 1990s, the
average cost -- especially for lightweight, flat-panel models -- has
fallen by several thousands of dollars. Last year, the average sale
price of HDTV sets dropped to $1,416.90, nearly 11 percent less than
in 2003 and 55 percent cheaper than in 1998, according to Consumer
Electronics Association, an Arlington, Va., trade group. Analysts say
HDTV prices have continued to decrease considerably this year.
Twelve percent of American households had at least one high-definition
television at the end of last year, but that is projected to double to
more than a quarter of US homes by the end of 2006, according to
Jupiter's latest report on the topic. Much of the growth, the report
said, will be fueled falling prices.
And prices don't have to go that low for people to take the HDTV
plunge. Among consumers who plan to buy a high-definition set in the
next 12 months, the largest chunk -- 42 percent -- said their budget
for the purchase was between $1,001 and $2,500, according to Jupiter
data. Twenty-two percent planned to spend between $500 and $1,000, and
only 4 percent planned to spend more than $5,000.
No wonder HDTVs will account for more than 70 percent of television
sales by 2010 the study estimated.
Another reason: Congress intends to shut off traditional analog
signals in 2009, forcing broadcasters to transmit in a digital
format. HDTV is by far the clearest and most popular of digital