The holidays may be a bit happier this year for people pining for a liquid crystal display TV wrapped up in a bow.
That's because the price of 40- to 42-inch LCD panels fell to $950 this month, the first time such devices have cost less than $1,000, market research firm iSuppli said Thursday.
The falling prices of panels, the most expensive component of the high-tech TVs, could bring the price of the 40- to 42-inch sets down to $2,500 by the end of the year, iSuppli predicted. The most popular size for large, flat-screen sets is 42 inches, according to makers of the generally cheaper plasma version.
Prices for smaller LCD TV sets are likely to drop this year too, iSuppli noted. For instance, the price of 30- to 32-inch LCD panels dipped to $425 this month.
Flat-screen TVs topped holiday wish lists last year, when prices for LCD sets sized 30 inches or smaller fell in the range of $1,000 to $1,500 and 42-inch plasma screen TVs--which had been selling for between $3,000 to $5,000--hit the $1,500 to $2,000 range. While generally more expensive, LCD technology is thought to produce a higher-quality picture than plasma.
Samsung, in particular, is helping drive down the price of 40- to 42-inch LCD panels, iSuppli said. The company is ramping up production at a new state-of-the-art plant that it jointly operates with Sony, the research firm noted. The new plants effectively let Samsung and Sony produce more large panels at a lower price because the sheet of motherglass, the big piece of glass from which LCD panels are cut, are far larger, measuring nearly 2 meters on each side. Robots pour molten silicon onto the motherglass, which spins at a high rate of speed, to produce panels.
Sharp is growing its LCD production capacity this year too, as are Hitachi, Toshiba and Matsushita Electric.
Shipments of LCD TV panels are expected to reach 18.8 million worldwide this year, up 87 percent from the 10 million shipped last year, iSuppli said.
CNET News.com's Michael Kanellos contributed to this story.