In another indication that flat panel display prices are heading south, direct marketer Akia today introduced a liquid crystal display (LCD) monitor for just under $1,500.
The company also said it would introduce a sub-$1,000 monitor by the end of the year.
Flat panel monitors weigh less, take up much less space, and consume about one-third the power of cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors, the desktop standard. And the LCD monitor provides dramatically better image quality.
LCD screens currently are used for notebook PCs in sizes ranging from 8 to 13.3 inches, but are more seldom found on desktops because of their price. A 14-inch CRT monitor typically costs between $400 and $500, or three to four times less than its flat panel equivalent.
Akia's Radiance VX145 active-matrix LCD monitor displays images with 262,144 colors at a pixel resolution of 1024 by 768. The 14.5-inch monitor comes standard with built-in stereo speakers, on-screen display controls, and a tilt stand.
Even as flat panel prices continue to drop, the flat panel display faces obstacles in its bid to challenge the traditional CRT monitor. One problem hindering widespread adoption of flat panel monitors is the incompatibility of current PC video cards with most flat panel desktop displays on the market.
Ironically, a PC generates digital video data that's perfectly suited for the flat panel but must be converted for the CRT monitor, yet the solution isn't as simple as it would seem because virtually every existing PC video card would have to be replaced. In other words, flat panel monitors aren't plug-and-play with current PCs.
Even once the video card problem is surmounted, LCD pricing still has a long way to fall before it is truly competitive with the CRT monitor. And the current downward trend may not be as reliable as it seems now.
"If we can use history as any kind of a benchmark, the $1,500 monitor will be down around $1,200 at the end of the year," said IDC Research analyst Ed Buckingham. "But that is really riding on what's going on in Asia, where most of these units are produced. The economy in Asia, if it takes more significant hits, won't have enough capital to create panels so prices could even increase. But it's too early to make a definitive answer on that."
Buckingham said it was unlikely that the flat panel would become the standard monitor any time soon. "Probably ten years from now we'll still have a lot of CRT's floating around," he said.