Vizio Readies LED Shipments; Samsung, LG to Follow

Vizio, the upstart HD brand that came out of nowhere a few years ago and currently is the top shipper of LCD HD units in North America, plans to join the growing chorus of what appears to be the latest next-best-thing in HD sets—LED.

The panels, which incorporate backlit light-emitting diodes that set makers say permits them to make brighter, lighter and thinner models, have been available from other manufacturers for a couple of years, but their typically higher price points so far have kept LED units clear of mainstream buying. Vizio has carved a growing niche for itself in the market by outsourcing (OEM) virtually its entire brand of HD models over the last few years, offering noticeably lower prices for LCD models than most of its competitors. Analysts expect Vizio to apply this low-price strategy to its upcoming LED sets, as well.

Vizio's initial rollout of LED units—expected by summer's end—will offer an MSRP of a 55-inch model for around $2,000, according to the "Los Angeles Times." That's currently more than $1,000 below the price points of comparable LED models from other makers.

Samsung and LG also are unveiling their own LED models by the fall, although their lines are expected to be offered at somewhat higher price points (none of which have been detailed yet).

While growth of LED backlit sets likely will be slowed more than might have been the case by the current economy, industry analyst DisplaySearch predicts shipments of LED-backlit sets will surpass standard LCD models by 2014.