Some 2.3 mln digital projection TVs were shipped in the United States in 2003, and 2.6 million are expected this year, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. That compares with 315,000 plasmas last year, and 515,000 seen in 2004, it said. It's easy to understand consumer excitement about plasma. The gee-whiz technology based on supercharged gases made its debut only about 4 years ago, and combined with high-definition digital video, it produces images that appear real enough to touch. But at an average price in 2003 of $4,600 - enough for a Hawaiian vacation or a 1997 Toyota Camry - consumers often think twice. That second thought brings them to projection TVs, which also have high-resolution images, but at a more earthbound price of $1,400, on average.