US Report: IBM plans sub-$1,000 LCD monitor

A new 15-inch, sub-$1,000 LCD monitor from IBM could help drive acceptance of flat-panel displays for corporate use.

IBM's newest Flat Panel Color Monitor, scheduled to ship next month, will offer greater visibility at wider viewing angles, thanks to a new display algorithm, said sources close to the company. It also will provide a choice between analogue and digital interfaces. The digital interface, which provides sharper resolution than traditional analogue signals, will meet the Video Electronic Standards Association's plug and display standards, which support the Universal Serial Bus standard.

IBM officials would not comment on the unannounced product.

LCD monitors offer several benefits over traditional CRT monitors, including lower power consumption, a smaller footprint and lighter weight. However, traditional prices of more than $1,000 have put LCD monitors out of the reach of most business users. But LCD prices have tumbled this year, with 14-inch displays dropping below $1,000. Compaq Computer Corp., ViewSonic Corp. and NEC Electronics Inc., for example, all offer sub-$1,000, 14-inch flat panels.

The drop in prices is helping attract customers, including Chase Manhattan Bank, which has recently ordered hundreds of flat panels from IBM. Chase's Global Markets division is deploying 235 IBM LCD monitors. The smaller displays will help Chase increase the number of traders in its Foreign Exchange Spot Pit by 20 percent, said Bob Elton, a vice president at the New York company. "It's cost-effective for us because we can increase the capacity [of a room] without adding cost," Elton said.

The Global Markets division was able to increase the number of traders to 68 without increasing electricity or air conditioning costs by replacing 20-inch CRT monitors with 14.1- and 16-inch LCDs, Elton said. LCD prices should continue to fall over the next year, further narrowing the price gap between LCD monitors and CRT monitors, according to a new report by DisplaySearch, an Austin, Texas, company that tracks LCD monitors.

The average price difference between a 15-inch LCD monitor and a 17-inch CRT will be $437 (£266) in the first quarter of 2000, compared with $1,084 (£660) in the first quarter of this year, said Barry Young, an analyst with DisplaySearch. Prices should continue to fall through 2000, Young said, before demand catches up with supply, halting the rapid erosion of prices