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HDTVs sales back on the rise, but smaller, cheaper sets may dominate

Though they never completely tanked like some other goods, HDTVs certainly hit a bump in the road during the economic downturn. But as the economy begins to rebound, it appears that TV sales are starting to grow again as well—though a new era of frugality may be on the way.

Though they never completely tanked like some other goods, HDTVs certainly hit a bump in the road during the economic downturn. But as the economy begins to rebound, it appears that TV sales are starting to grow again as well—though a new era of frugality may be on the way.

According to research firm SNL Kagan, sales in the second half of 2009 will increase to the point where the number of HDTVs sold will be 29 million units, which bests 2008's 26.2 million units sold. However, the revenue for new TV sales will actually drop, from $28.4 billion in 2008 to $25.5 billion this year.

Part of that has to do with the inevitable drop in prices that occur each year as production costs fall, and especially this year when steep price reductions occurred at the beginning of the year when retailers were desperate to reduce inventory. But it may also have to do with a new buying trend when it comes to HDTVs: smaller and cheaper. Research from electronics Web site Retrevo suggests that more people are interested in HDTVs that are 37 inches and smaller than they were in 2008. While the ratio of interest between small sets and those larger than 37 inches was about 1:1 last year at this time, that ratio has shifted to 3:2 in favor of smaller sets.

Retrevo surmises that people are purchasing smaller sets due to the conversion from analog to digital TVs or because they've already purchased a large TV and are looking for a second HDTV for another room. Here's another reason: With credit drying up, people can't buy a big set and stick it on a credit card or finance it with their home equity loan. Forced to stick to a budget, people may realize that they can live with a 32-inch set. After all, unless you had a big rear-projection set in your house, your CRT wasn't bigger than that and you survived.

Are you planning to buy a(nother) HDTV? Answer the poll question below and let us know what size set you're going to buy.

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