HD Prices Narrow between All Brands

Price points among premium-brand HD makers and their younger upstart competitors are narrowing.
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The increasingly ubiquitous nature of HD in North America—coupled with a challenging economy—is forcing price points among premium-brand HD makers and their younger upstart competitors to narrow.

Still, manufacturers of the lower-priced LCD HD units like Vizio that sell mostly in box outlets like Costco and Wal-Mart have done better in the current recession than the better known, more expensive brands like Sony and Samsung, according to iSuppli. (Vizio led in North American LCD sales in the first quarter of 2009 for the first time.)

Wishing for a bigger share of overall HD sales, even if it means cutting into the profit margin, has led Sony and other well-established brands to cut price points (often through special sales and other temporary events) to within a couple hundred dollars’ difference, in some cases. In other words, rarely will premium brands undersell their lower-priced competition—but by bridging the once-huge price gaps they give prospective buyers something to think about before making any commitments.

For example, researcher iSuppli said, generally the current price difference for a 42-inch HD LCD panel between a premium brand and a so-called “value” brand is about $955 and $800, respectively. A few months ago, that $155 gap would have been perhaps double, said iSuppli.