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IBM cuts price of big flat-panel in half

Though the new price tag is still well out of the reach of most consumers, Big Blue hopes the reduction will woo more companies and other big institutions.

When it comes to pricing flat-panel displays, bigger isn't always better, according to IBM.

The company Tuesday slashed the price on its largest flat-panel display, the 22.2-inch T221, by a whopping 53 percent to $8,399. The display was originally priced at $17,999.

Though that price is well out of the reach of most consumers, IBM says it expects the reduction to make the display a more realistic purchase proposition for companies or institutions such as hospitals.

The display is designed for use in areas where high resolution is needed, including medical imaging, mechanical design and viewing satellite images, IBM said.

Big Blue said the display offers a maximum resolution of 3,840 by 2,400 pixels along with a 170 degree viewing angle and a 400:1 contrast ratio. Most desktop flat panels and notebook PC displays offer resolutions of 1,024 by 768 pixels. Many manufacturers also offer upgrades to higher resolution displays, with resolutions of 1,400 by 1,050 or 1,600 by 1,200 pixels.

IBM was able to slash the price thanks to reductions in manufacturing and support costs and because the cost of bringing the display to market has been recouped, a representative said.

The company held the line on prices for the remainder of its flat-panel displays, which range in size from 15 inches to 20.8 inches.

Though IBM is seeking to make the display more appealing to a wider audience, the price drop also mirrors an ongoing trend. During the last year, flat-panel display prices have been falling rapidly and, as a result, sales have increased just as rapidly. The trend continues despite a recent stabilization of flat-panel display prices because of shortages of components used to manufacture the displays.

In general, consumers purchase displays that are between 15 inches and 17 inches to go with new PCs, with companies buying larger displays with specific uses in mind.

Flat-panel maker Ezio, for example, introduced new large displays aimed at corporations Tuesday. Its new 18-inch display offers a resolution of 1,280 by 1,024 pixels for a price of about $1,650.

Dell Computer, meanwhile, recently launched a 19-inch flat-panel display for $1,299. And even notebook makers are getting in on the big screen act. Sony on Monday introduced new Vaio GRX notebooks with a 16.1-inch display.

Elsewhere, Gateway offers a 15.7-inch display on its Solo 9550 notebook, and Apple Computer features a 15.2-inch display on its Powerbook G4. IBM's own ThinkPad notebooks come with screen sizes that range up to 15 inches.