Why are HDTV prices rising as economy continues to struggle?

Summary:HDTV prices have shot up 11.4 percent since the 2011 holiday season. Thank all those fancy new bells and whistles on new sets for the cost increase.

It seemed almost like an immutable law of nature: HDTV prices will start high and continue falling, quarter after quarter, year after year. But even though the economic recovery is barely sputtering along, a funny thing has happened recently to TV prices: They're going up -- and mostly have been for the last year.

According to a new report from market research firm IHS iSuppli, HDTV prices have shot up 11.4 percent since the 2011 holiday season. What gives? You can thank all those fancy new bells and whistles on new sets for the cost increase.

LED backlighting, larger screen sizes, and Internet connectivity, in particular, are helping manufacturers from slashing prices on their TVs. For instance, iSuppli says that an LED-backlit LCD set with a screen size of 40 to 42 inches costs 21 percent more than one using traditional CCFL backlighting. Even 3D sets, which haven't been the boon that the industry had hoped, are seeing modest price increases -- 3 percent in April.

Of course, LED sets generally deliver superior performance to CCFL-based ones, so one can't avoid recommending them if you're looking for the better image quality. But buyers may be wise to consider how much extra a "smart" TV costs over a non-networked one -- and see if they can save money by just buying a Roku, Apple TV, or networked Blu-ray player instead for their streaming services.

Considering how damaging past price wars have been to the bottom lines of both manufacturers and retailers, don't expect prices to plummet anytime soon. Instead, you're going to be even smarter about your buying decisions if you want to get the best deal. Have you noticed TV prices going up? If so, has it impacted your buying decisions? Let us know in Comments section below.

Topics: Mobility, Hardware

About

Sean Portnoy started his tech writing career at ZDNet nearly a decade ago. He then spent several years as an editor at Computer Shopper magazine, most recently serving as online executive editor. He received a B.A. from Brown University and an M.A. from the University of Southern California.

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