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U.S. consumer love affair with LCD TVs to deepen in fourth quarter, iSuppli says

Shipments of LCD TVs in the United States this quarter are expected to reach 8 million units as consumers put aside fears of the recession and buy more flat-screen TV than they did in the fourth quarter of 2008, according to the latest projection from research firm iSuppli.

According to iSuppli, shipments of LCD TVs for the quarter will grow 7.3 percent compared to the same period a year ago. Enticing U.S. shoppers to buy are low prices, higher quality images and more features, says Riddhi Patel, principal analyst for iSuppli.

Helping to propel sales higher will be rock bottom pricing for premium LCD TV brands on Black Friday, the notorious shopping day after Thanksgiving. According to iSuppli, some 32in HDTV models could go for as little as $299, and select 42in HDTVs could be $499.

Beyond the kickoff of the holiday buying season, bargains are expected to attract buyers. During the fourth quarter, 46in and 47in HD, 120Hz LCD TVs are expected to decline in price to less than $1000, the researcher said. Average pricing for 42in LCD TVs is set to fall to $639 in the fourth quarter of 2009, down from $768 during the same period in 2008.

The market for LCD TVs in the United States has transitioned to a replacement market, Patel says. Shoppers want replacement LCD TVs that look better than their first-generation sets. “They are looking for premium features that provide a substantial improvement in terms of feature sets and quality,” Patel adds.

One feature proving popular among U.S. shoppers is LED backlights. In fact, the United States now leads the world in sales of LCD TVs with LED backlights, according to the research firm.

The popularity of LED backlights is understandable given U.S. consumers’ concern about power consumption. “ISuppli’s U.S. TV Consumer Preference Analysis service in the third quarter polled U.S. consumers who bought TV and found that 45 percent said that green issues influenced their TV-buying decisions,” Patel says. Lower power consumption is the most important feature cited by U.S. consumers concerned with green issues.