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Report: Slim-TV sales anything but flat

Annual shipments of flat-panel sets are expected to shoot from 10.5 million units in 2004 to 83.5 million in 2010, report says.

Sales of flat-panel TVs are expected to skyrocket during the next five years, as prices continue to fall, according to a report.

By 2010, sales will reach $45 billion, with 83.5 million units shipping, research company Strategy Analytics said in a report on Wednesday. That's up from 10.5 million units shipping in 2004.

But the industry doesn't have to wait until then to see dramatic gains, according to Strategy Analytics. Compared with last year, flat-panel sales will increase by 66 percent in 2005 to $25.6 billion.

Additionally, the report states that 98 percent of homes worldwide have not purchased a flat panel, giving manufacturers significant opportunity.

TVs made using plasma and liquid crystal display, or LCD, technologies are the main draw for consumers looking for sleek designs and large-screen sizes.

LCD sets dominated the flat-panel TV market in 2004, with sales reaching 8.3 million units, compared with 2.2 million for plasma sets, Strategy Analytics said. Still, plasma remains the flat-panel leader in the category of large-screen TVs--those that are 40 inches and bigger. Digital-light processing, or DLP, TVs are also a factor in the larger-display markets.

With a number of technologies and manufacturers vying for consumers, prices are dropping.

The most popular size of LCD televisions--30 inches to 34 inches--sold for an average of $2,600 at the end of 2004, down from nearly $3,700 in 2003, according to research company iSuppli. By 2007, the typical price is expected to be about $900.


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Similarly, the typical price tag for a plasma set between 40 and 44 inches will fall from about $3,000 in 2003 to about $800 by 2007, iSuppli said.

Flat-panel TV prices are falling so fast that shipments are projected to surpass those of the familiar cathode ray tube, or CRT, televisions by 2007--even though the traditional sets reputedly are more reliable, last longer and offer better picture quality.

Plasma and LCD sets offer roughly the same picture quality and screen life.