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Comdex: LCD Monitors To Feature Better Tech, Lower Prices

Monitor makers this week at Comdex Fall are gearing up to roll out thinner, brighter and less expensive flat-panel LCD monitors equipped with such enhanced features as 170-degree viewing screens and the ability to mount on a wall.

Prices on many LCD models have dropped from earlier this year when prices shot up about 16 percent for some models, mostly due to a shortage of LCD display screens.

Monica Islas, product manager for monitors at Samsung, said increasing sales volume and new technologies have led to greater efficiencies, which in turn are continuing to drive down prices.

"This [monitor line is a fifth-generation product line," said Islas. "[Samsung can now cut more LCD panels from the same glass so it can actually produce more and lower the cost."

For instance, Islas said, two years ago the average end-user price for a 15-inch LCD display was more than $1,000. During 2002, she said, prices dropped dramatically to about $599, and then to about $399.

"Once it went to $399, the price has gone back and forth," said Islas. "Because we are a true manufacturer, we've been able to keep the same price."

Seventeen-inch LCD displays, Islas said, have experienced a similar drop in price over the last 10 months or so, from about $1,299 and up, down to about $999, and now to the $699 price range. While the holiday season may bring some special low-end prices for consumers, Islas said, prices should remain relatively stable.

There is still plenty of room for prices to continue to fall, said vendors.

Perry Scheerer, senior director of strategic sales and marketing at CTX, said entry-level 15-inch LCD monitors are now street-priced at around $300, but could drop to about $200 by late 2004. He said he also expects 19-inch LCD monitors to drop in price by about 30 percent next year.

Grant Lao, sales director of the Peripherals Division of Acer America, said 17-inch monitors could fall to about $450 by Christmas, compared with about $500 now. Lao said he expects prices to be below $400 by late 2003.

In the higher-end category, Samsung plans to use Comdex to unveil its new SyncMaster 400T 40-inch LCD display with a price tag of about $10,999. The 400T comes with enhanced video and audio capabilities aimed, in part, at boardroom videoconferencing and digital signage applications such as flight information in airports, Islas said.

Samsung also plans to unveil the 15-inch SyncMaster 151N and 19-inch SyncMaster 191N monitors with narrow bezel. The 151N will have a street price of $389, said Islas. The 191N--aimed at high-end motion video, 3-D, entertainment, gaming and Web design applications--has a dot pitch of 0.294 mm and a maximum resolution of 1,280 x 1,024. The street price will be $999.

NEC-Mitsubishi Electronics Display is set to unveil a new line of seven NEC MultiSync LCD 60 Series monitors, including 15-inch, 17-inch and 18-inch models.

Five of the seven 60 Series models provide DVI-D digital and traditional 15-pin analog VGA connectors. The dual input technology allows the monitors to connect to digital video or standard VGA adapters, and can be connected to two systems, such as a PC and a Mac, at the same time. Most models also include NEC's Rapid Response technology, which cuts response times to 30 milliseconds or less, Chris Connery, director of product line management for NEC.

"We've really been focusing on the core technology and making it even more of a no-brainer than it already is," Connery said. "That's what's at the heart of the intelligence of these monitors."

Some of the new NEC monitors will be available in December, with a rollout expected by the end of the first quarter in 2003. Prices range between $330 and $800.

BenQ is also set to unveil several new products during Comdex, including a 15-inch flat-panel model. Ralph Tang, president of BenQ, said a new 17-inch flat-panel LCD is on slate for release next February.

"[With the 17-inch LCD we've added functions such as height adjustments and more input capabilities such as S-video and composite input," said Tang.

Tang said pricing for the 17-inch model would most likely be slightly higher than the $350 to $400 price tag for the BenQ FP591 15-inch flat-panel LCD to be launched during Comdex.

The FP591, said Tang, features built-in surround sound audio and can be ordered with optional add-ons such as a television tuner box and a digital photo frame device.

CTX plans to show several new LCD monitors at Comdex, said Scheerer. One new 19-inch and two new 17-inch models include LCD panels using multidomain vertical alignment (MVA) technology. MVA splits the screen into a number of sections, each of which has LCD pixels facing multiple directions, giving the screens a viewing angle of up to 170 degrees, he said.

The PV722i 17-inch monitor with MVA technology is expected to be priced at about $625. The PV722e, which has an additional USB hub and built-in speakers, is priced $10 higher. The 19-inch P922e, with integrated hub and audio, is expected to be priced at $899. All are expected to ship in January, Scheerer said.

During Comdex, CTX will also start shipping the S730, a 17-inch LCD monitor with a champagne color and silver buttons, said Scheerer. It carries a price tag of about $475.

Acer has refreshed its monitor line with a new pedestal that can be removed for wall mounting, a slot for connecting a Kensington lock, and a contrast ratio that has been improved by more than 15 percent, said Lao.

The new models include the AL532, at 15-inch monitor with a 120-degree view angle; the AL722, a 17-inch model; the AL922, a 19-inch model with a 170-degree viewing angle; and two new 15-inch models. They are expected to ship starting after Comdex, Lao said.

AOC Monitors is using Comdex as the forum to show its new 19-inch model LM914. This monitor comes with dual digital and analog inputs, as well as the Kensington security slot, and is priced at about $749, said Gino Villaflor, product marketing manager for the company.

AOC also intends to introduce height-adjustment and swivel capabilities for its entire monitor line at Comdex, Villaflor said.

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