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Flat panels to outpace CRTs in 2004

For the first time, global shipments of liquid crystal displays this year will surpass those of cathode ray tube units, as LCD prices drop into a comfort zone for mainstream PC users.

LCD monitors are set to take top honors on the desktop this year.

For the first time, global shipments of liquid crystal displays in 2004 will surpass those of cathode ray tube (CRT) units, market research firm IDC said Thursday. The driving force behind the switchover: a surplus of LCD units from Asian gear makers.

The abundance of the flat-panel displays has driven prices into a comfort zone for more and more buyers. Mainstream PC users are being lured to the market as 17-inch displays have dropped below $400, and in some cases $300, IDC said. Prices will decline steadily over the next few years, the researcher said.

By sometime next year, 17-inch LCDs will dominate the market, according to IDC.

By 2007, the number of LCDs shipped will reach 119 million. Developed countries will have almost completely switched over to the slimmer displays by then, and CRTs will be sold primarily in less-developed countries. CRTs will account for 30 million units in 2007, IDC said.

The demand for LCD monitors is going up as manufacturers of desktops, notebooks and television sets make the switch from the venerable CRT design. According to an earlier study by iSuppli, worldwide revenue for LCD panels is expected to reach $47 billion in 2004, up 32 percent from last year.

"There's a universal attraction to these thinner, lighter, less cumbersome displays," Jennifer Gallo, analyst for IDC's displays and projectors service, said in a statement. "Throw out an appealing price point to the masses and you've got a formula for shaking up the marketplace."