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Dell lowers prices on flat panels

The PC maker serves up a 17-inch flat panel display for about $600, passing on a price cut from LCD panel supplier Samsung. Dell also cuts the cost of a 15-inch model.

Dell Computer is aiming to catch the eye of consumers and businesses with a new, lower priced 17-inch flat-panel display.

The Austin, Texas, PC maker introduced on Monday the new E171FP display for a price of $599.

Dell will offer the display for $550 to customers who purchase a Dimension desktop, allowing them to step up to a 17-inch flat-panel display for little more than they would have paid for a 15-inch flat-panel display only about a year ago, said Scott Hardy, product marketing manager for displays in Dell's Client Products Group.

"We're interested in giving customers a...large flat-panel display at a more affordable price," Hardy said.

To get there, Dell is passing on lower prices on LCD panels from its suppliers, such as Samsung, who builds the panel used in the new display.

Thanks to such supplier price drops, Dell also reduced the price tag on its 15-inch E151FP display Monday. The display now sells for $399 as a standalone or can be purchased for $280 when buying a Dimension, Hardy said.

When configuring a new desktop, the $550 17-inch flat-panel is a $171 upgrade from Dell's best 19-inch standard CRT monitor, a Sony Trinitron-based display, which costs $379.

Fitting in
Dell designed the 17-inch E171FP display to bridge the gap between the low price 15-inch E151FP and Dell's UltraSharp series of flat panels, which includes models like the 17-inch 1702FP, priced at $799 or the 19-inch 1900FP, at $1,199, all aimed at professional users. The more costly UltraSharp displays are geared toward graphic design and monitor-critical pursuits, Hardy said, while the less expensive models aim mainly for consumers and everyday business use.

Dell aimed at delivering a low price for the E171FP display, so it lacks the digital interface or 170 degree viewing angle found in the UltraSharp models. But it offers some of the same features, such as 1,280-by-1,024-pixel resolution, along with a lower price than similar offerings from many of Dell's competitors.

Sony's 17-inch SDM-S71, for example, sells for $699 via Best Buy. Viewsonic's 17-inch VA720 sells for $649, before rebates. Meanwhile, Samsung's 17-inch 171v sells for $599 before rebates. Both Samsung and Viewsonic offer $100 rebates that end in October, meaning the Samsung display can be had for a $499 street price.

And, as expected, prices on flat panel displays are expected to come down even more as the holidays approach.

That's because "prices are coming down on panels," said Rhoda Alexander, director of monitor research at iSuppli/Standford Resources. "The market tipped back from undersupply to oversupply in the third quarter. Relatively flat PC sales slowed a lot of the momentum that was happening in the LCD monitor space, so vendors are responding with lower prices."

Sellers like Dell are sometimes a little ahead of their competitors on getting lower-priced deals on LCD panels. Dell also traditionally passes on price savings more quickly than do other monitor manufacturers.

"But everybody's eager to see what they can do to drive the market at this point," Alexander said.

"You're going to see lots of products out there with a street price below $500," during the holiday season, Alexander said. "There will be lots of very attractive bargains out there for the end user."