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Consumers show preference for LED-backlit TVs, says IHS iSuppli

For the first time, more TV buyers in the United States are choosing to purchase televisions with LED backlighting rather than the older cold cathode fluorescent lamp (CCFL) technology, according to an IHS iSuppli U.S. TV Consumer Preference Analysis report.

Those consumers who decided from the onset of the purchasing process that they would buy an LED-backlit LCD TV jumped to 54 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, a big increase from 22 percent in the third quarter. The gains made by LED were at the expense of sets featuring CCFL technology — the slightly bulkier predecessor of the LED. This time, however, the share of CCFL-backlit LCD TVs plunged to 25 percent, down from the previous 56 percent.

Of those consumers who had made up their minds to buy an LED TV set, 54 percent actually then went on to purchase the TV. Eighty-one percent of those who had initially expressed preferences to buy a CCFL model ended up buying the LED rival.

LED and CCFL are the two technologies for backlighting LCD televisions, with CCFL being the older light source. However, LED requires less energy than CCFL, lasts longer and is more environmentally friendly because it does not contain mercury, lead and other chemicals. LED backlighting also produces brighter whites and a wider contrast range.

"American TV buyers are becoming more technologically savvy," said Lisa Hatamiya, TV research analyst for IHS. "For years, LCD had dominated the TV space, but buyers for a long time did not perceive the advantages of LED backlighting, even after widely publicized reports came out touting the advantages of the new technology. All that is quickly changing, however, especially as LED-backlit prices decline and as retail channels swing perceptibly toward highlighting the new models in their showrooms."

A 42in 1080p, 120Hz LED in the fourth quarter of 2011 commanded an average price of $862, compared to $755 for a CCFL LCD TV with the same specifications. Only a year ago, the disparity was much greater, at $1049 for LED vs. $800 for LCD.