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Flat Panel Prices Falling, But Thin HD is Still Costly

Like supermodels can tell you, it pays to be thin. Market research firm Pacific Media Associates (PMA) is reporting that the street price for 40-44 inch flat panel screens dropped an average of 13 percent from the fourth quarter of 2004 to the first quarter of 2005. Prices for 40-42 inch flat panel LCD televisions had the most dramatic decline, falling 18 percent during the same period. Prices for 42-inch enhanced-definition (ED) plasma sets fell more than 12 percent, and 42-43 HD plasma price points dropped more than 8.5 percent.

Typical retail prices for ED plasma is now nearly equivalent to similarly sized rear projection (RP) sets, according to PMA. For approximately $2,000, consumers can now choose between a micro-display HD RPTV and a flat panel ED plasma set, according to the Menlo Park, Calif.,-based company. Therefore, at those price points the question seems to be: What does the consumer prefer--thinness or HD?

A noticeable price gap remains between RPTV and HD flat panels, with about $4,500 on the lower end for HD plasma, and about $5,000 for HD LCD sets.