What’s Ahead for TVs in 2012
by Leslie Meredith, TechNewsDaily Senior Writer
January 09 2012 11:47 AM ET
Replacing their main TV with a bigger, thinner and brighter model is at the top of many Americans' lists at the start of a new year. While new TV technology will become available in mid-2012, the deals on current technologies will begin later this month.
The TV cycle is largely predictable, but 2012 will offer several surprises. Learn what to buy and when to get the best deal.
Each year, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas draws crowds to see the latest gadgets. Announcements have already included TVs that will be thinner than ever, thanks to OLED technology, and glasses-free 3D TVs. But those features won’t be budget-friendly. By contrast, current technology will be priced to sell.
“As new HDTVs, home theater systems and more are unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show mid-month, retailers will begin to put old stock on clearance in an attempt to make room for the incoming stock,” Lindsay Sakraida of DealNews said in a post. “Keep in mind, though, that while we'll begin to see sales in January, discounts will also spill heavily into February.”
Expect to see deals on HDTVs from Samsung, Sony, LG and Panasonic, retailers that refrained from deep discounts during Black Friday. Sales will be timed ahead of this year’s Super Bowl, set for Feb. 5, the London Olympics beginning July 27, and, of course, the annual Black Friday spree in November.
Bigger will be cheaper
Panasonic unveiled a 150-inch plasma TV at CES in 2008 and brings it back each year; crowds still gather to experience its towering size. While home TVs have not reached such gargantuan proportions, consumers continue to buy ever-larger sets. Fifty-five-inch displays have become the new standard.
TVs with screens that diagonally measure 40 inches and larger are expected to grow 12 percent in 2012, while those under 40 inches will decline by 3 percent, according to NPD DisplaySearch analysts. Sizes up to 50 inches will carry an average price below $1,000 in 2012, and 60-inch and larger displays will fall below $2,000 for the first time.
Plasma’s bargain reign ending
As the price gap between LCD and plasma continues to close, the demand for plasma has fallen, prompting NPD to lower its 2012 sales forecast for plasma TV. Plasma sales grew 30 percent in 2010 because of favorable pricing compared with LCD sets — especially in the larger sizes — but growth fell to 11 percent in 2011. That means plasma will continue to be a good value throughout this year as production wanes and retailers cut prices to clear their shelves.
Pricey innovation: Glasses-free 3D, OLED and 4K
Philadelphia-based Stream TV Network has announced it will unveil its “unprecedented autostereoscopic 3D imagery” at CES. The company promises its technology will convert all 2D shows into lifelike 3D without glasses or discomfort. Further, it will “tweak” current 3D content so that viewers can watch it without glasses. The company’s product is designed to be built into existing TVs and other media devices.
Samsung, which holds 61 percent of the 3D TV market, and its competitors will continue to include a 3D feature in high-end models. The premium for 3D dropped from 30 percent in the third quarter of 2011 to 17 percent in the last quarter, according to NPD. Watch for 3D premiums to approach zero as 2012 proceeds.
Higher resolutions are also on the board for CES. LG has announced it will show an 84-inch 4K 3D HDTV at the show. The 4K stands for 4,000 and refers to a 4,096- by 3,072-pixel array (sometimes called ultra HD), compared to the 1920- by 1080-pixel found in 1080p HDTVs. Currently there are 4K projectors on the market but no TVs. While 4K could be a boon to 3D TV viewing, where half an image is delivered to each eye to bring 3D images up to full HD in passive sets , four times the resolution will be nearly unnoticeable even on standard 60-inch TVs.
Samsung and LG will show off their first big OLED TVs at the show (OLED stands for "organic light emitting diodes)," but these new ultra-thin (3/16 of an inch), 55-inch sets are not expected to ship until the second half of 2012, around the time of the London Olympics. Prices may top $4,000 initially and aren’t expected to come down until late 2013.
Best deal for 2012
Look for a name brand, no frills 50- to 60-inch 1080p Roku HD palm-size box for $80.