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Big flat panels drop in price

IBM and Nokia light up 18-inch versions of the high-quality displays, targeted at the financial and medical communities.

Two flat-panel display makers introduced new 18-inch displays today as the market for these fancy thin monitors heats up.

IBM and Nokia both unveiled 18-inch displays targeted at the financial and medical communities.

As they drop in price, flat panel displays are widely expected to overtake the bulkier traditional CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) monitors. Flat panels not only take up less space, they offer much higher screen quality.

"The price points have finally come down to an attractive enough level," to drive corporate sales, said Alan Petersburg, worldwide brand manager for IBM Visual Products, who noted that IBM's sales have doubled every quarter in the last year. "The gap in price between flat panels and CRTs has closed pretty dramatically."

IBM today introduced the all-digital T85 and analog T85A 18-inch flat panel displays, for $2,849 and $2,999 respectively. These are the first 18-inch displays below $3,000, according to IBM.

"The flat panel monitor is inherently digital," Petersburg explained. "With digital displays, you're reducing the chips that do the conversions inside the monitor [from digital to analog]. They are lower in cost to produce, thus the lower price point."

"You get into this wonderful cycle, where more volume improves on the yield, which lowers costs, which brings a lower price point," he continued. "That's been the environment for the past 12 months."

Nokia today announced its Nokia 800Xi, an analog 3.2-inch thick display, priced at $3,199. The Nokia 800Xi features an anti-theft loop to enhance security in high-traffic office settings, the company said.