Why are HDTV prices rising as economy continues to struggle?

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.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Mobility, Hardware
23

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

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

23 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • I guess

    I guess the test is to compare HDTVs with the same technology and feature set. Have those prices fallen, remained steady, or increased as manufacturers seize upon the higher cost of more desirable units to try and squeeze a little more dough out of their lower tier offering?
    dsf3g
  • When you're printing trillions of dollars

    Building a debt never to be paid off your buying power diminishes.
    Richard Flude
    • And the Gov'ts of the Europe and the US has what

      to do with this article? NOTHING! What a Jack Wagon
      TheBottomLineIsAllThatMatters
    • So...

      So that's why manufacturers are building fancier and more expensive HDTV's? That makes no sense.
      dsf3g
  • Part of the problem is 3D

    Nobody wants it, but it jacks the price up a few hundred dollars.
    Aerowind
    • Then buy a set without 3D instead.

      Saving yourself those same few hundred dollars. Ka-ching!
      Zogg
  • iTV coming

    they are rushing to improve their margins before iTV comes.
    Afterwards they can advertise nice discounts and prices on "similar" technology.
    TecEnthusiast
  • iTV coming

    they are rushing to improve their margins before iTV comes.
    Afterwards they can advertise nice discounts and prices on "similar" technology.
    TecEnthusiast
  • fine with what I have

    I bought a 37' LED 1080p 120Hz LCD in Dec. 2010 for $500. Due to it being a refurbished\returned item. At half the cost I have yet to see something sell that cheap. It has everything I want and wont be needing another tv for some time.
    RIAAsucks
  • I'm in the minority apparently

    I want the dumbest possible TV with the highest quality display. I do not want it connecting to the internet. I do not want it to have "apps". I do not want it telling me it cannot display what's in HDMI2. I do not want it displaying "3D". I do not want it doing 480hz.

    I want my TV to perform exactly one function: display the damn signal. I want it to display the damn signal well. I want it to display NTSC, PAL, SECAM, 720p, 1080i, 1080p, and whatever bizarre resolution my laptop sends out, scaled to the best of its abilities. I want it to display the damn signal without flashy lights, annoying animations, sound dingers, or annoying lag.

    Essentially what I'm looking for is a 42" computer monitor...but no one seems to think there's a market for them :/

    Joey
    voyager529
    • And there isn't a market for a 42" computer monitor

      While I understand your perspective, I'm not sure what you describe would actually cost less. Most of the superfluous features are software, not hardware. 3D does involve adding hardware, but that hardware improves 2D pictures and is valuable even if you never view 3D content.
      Even basic Internet connectivity is useful for updates to the software controlling the basic TV functions.

      The bottom line? A "42 computer monitor" does make sense, but it would likely sell poorly and provide you with little benefit.
      Spatha@...
    • Not a minority, Joey ;-)

      Right on, Joey!
      That's all I want myself.
      And no, it has nothing to do with the price (as others argued). (I'd be willing to pay more)
      It's about doing ONE THING WELL.
      'Nuf said.
      radu.m
    • Not me...

      I thought the same. I bought a 42" 120hz LCD last summer. It came with internet apps and I never bothered to use them- I got the unit at a fine price.

      I recently moved, and my AppleTV is in hiding somewhere in a box with my better desktop PC. But I've been able to continue to watch Netflix, Hulu Plus, and other things because all I had to do was plug in the ethernet cord.

      I didn't bother with cable, don't have blu-ray. Don't need either. And it is a name brand set that cost no more than its "dumb" peers.

      If you don't want it, that's fine. But 6 months into owning this set, I've discovered that I was wrong with regard to the apps. The set was $599, and it was NEW, not rebuilt. No regrets here.
      notinkeys
    • You may have missed that boat

      I'm with you, and I finally went widescreen this fall with a left over nearly dumb model. It's internet capable, but I have yet to used it. I did experiment briefly with the DLNA features, but I found compatibility lacking, so I just use it as a computer monitor in that mode.
      cwallen19803@...
  • I have an internet-enabled TV

    It's a Sony that connects to a lot of content, but I'd rather use my iPad and send over content via my AppleTV using Airplay.
    rynning
  • Internet Content has a ways to go

    I also have an internet enabled TV and am rarely interested in viewing the content. Maybe it already exists with some models, but adding a web browser would be very nice to have. That would likely make it too easy to avoid using the pre-loaded garbage that ships with the TV. It would be best for the consumer, but compared to the business relationships involved what's best for the consumer is an afterthought. Bloatware, not just for your Best Buy purchased computer anymore.
    cs2inc
  • RE: Demand Also

    Did not HDTV's sell like gangbusters last holiday season? The survivors of the depression we had/are having are spending again and spending on high priced items. Everything to do with upscale is the trend now (See Apple).

    Off topic a bit: The rest of the population be it formally or never middle class because this down economy lasted so long have fallen too far behind to catch up and will be forgotten once the election is over no matter who wins. They will still be watching Standard definition TV or an early breaking down HDTV with a cable or satellite set up they really should drop due to affordability
    edkollin
  • Apps on TV - who wants them?

    I'm sure there are some cord cutters that use these apps, but they aren't very good.

    I have my 58" Samsung Plasma connected to a Home Theater PC running Windows 7 Media Center. I use a Ceton Infinity 4 tuner that allows me to record 4 High Def channels (via Comcast) at the same time I'm watching a DVD or previously recorded TV show. At the same time, my internet is fully available for doing other things on different devices and I never see a commercial for more than about 5 seconds.

    My TV has a bunch of apps that sounded good for about 2 days, now I forget they are even there. Having a computer connected to the TV is by far the most flexible and rich experience.
    John Hanks
    • Home Theater PC

      This is the solution I want to run. What would you recommend as minimum specs on a Home Theatre PC, processor, memory, and disc subsystem. And I understand you can stream to an XBox or other media extender. Do you?
      rmillersbs
  • HDTV price increase

    Just how connected do we have to be? Do we have to be wired every waking moment of the day? do we have to watch TV on our computer (HULU+) and then walk out into the living room to watch it in even Higher Definition? I have enough trouble moving my mouse cursor around a 23" screen on my desktop, now I am expected to navigate around a 72" monitor? Now I'm not against technology evolving, but just to say " My HDTV with OLED back-lighting is networked with every other device I own" isn't worth it. I agree with an earlier comment in that I want to be able to simply control my TV and not have to have one of my kids with their Ph.D have to program it. Maybe one day when I can fold my POD-t (personal on-demand transporter) into my briefcase..............................
    iMikeH