How your HDTV is a sign of the economy

Think that shiny new box in front of your couch is a product solely of your meticulous online research and hard-earned cash? Think again.

Pioneer PDP-5080HDThink that shiny new box in front of your couch is a product solely of your meticulous online research and hard-earned cash? Think again.

What if I told you it's a literal representation of the economy's latest downturn?

(Yep, it's true.)

According to data recently released by the research firm Pacific Media Associates, the share of the TV market for 30 to 34-inch LCD TVs jumped to 24 percent in February from 16 percent in January --at the expense of larger sets.

In fact, market share sales for 45 to 49-inch LCD TVs dropped to 14 percent from 18 percent and the 40- to 44-inch LCD and plasma segment moved to 18 percent from 20 percent, according to the New York Times Bits blog.

By shifting to smaller-sized models, consumers are saving hundreds of dollars. In February, the average 40 to 45-inch set cost $1,287, according to Mr. Poor. But the average price for a 30 to 34-inch model was almost half that, $685.

“That’s about the size of the federal incentive check,” Mr. Poor said.

Much like the economic situation in the U.S., while many consumers are shifting to smaller and cheaper TVs, the big daddies -- that's 50 inches or more -- are keeping steady sales. This is attributed to wealthier consumers seeing a 50-inch TV as a relative bargain compared to the $5,000 they paid for a 40-inch HDTV five years ago.

What's even more interesting are overall price points. Even with the slashing of HDTV prices in recent years, they're still far and above more expensive than the old sets used to be. It's like a bout of amnesia about the old tube sets, which if you recall, cost about $400 for 34 inches.

Ah, remember the good old days?

How about you, readers? How has the economy affected your recent TV upgrade? (Or are you sticking it out with the ol' tube?) Tell us in TalkBack.