Majority of Buyers Prefer Bigger LED Backlit TV's

TV buyers have shifted away from LCD towards backlit LED over the last quarter. 40-42-inch sets are now the preferred size (source: isuppli).

In Q3 2011, over 50% of buyers opted for TV’s based on LCD or cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFL). In contrast, in Q4 of 2011 the pendulum shifted dramatically in the direction of LED. Moreover, 81% of buyers who had previously expressed a preference for CCFL purchased LED models. LCD and plasma both hovered around the low 20% in Q4.

CCFL is a long tube placed behind the LCD (which does not emit any light itself). The CCFL is illuminated and the liquid crystal turns on or off to allow light to pass through or to block it. Because it’s a tube, the entire unit must be on or off. LED sets overcome this limitation as they are installed in arrays and can be turned on and off selectively to provide what is referred to as “local dimming”. Local dimming improves picture contrast as the LED’s can be turned off in dark areas of a scene, whereas CCFL’s are always on. Budget sets will use edge-lit LED’s while higher end models will arrays of LED’s behind the LCD. LED’s do not have a on 1:1 ratio with pixels, so dimming can only be achieved in “blocks”. Organic LED (OLED)

The improved picture quality is an obvious reason for the rapid change. A reduction in price disparity between CCFL and LED has also helped to sway buyers toward LED. The price differential has dropped from over 30% to about 13% over the course of a year. Substantial promotion of LED by retail stores and the media has no doubt had an effect on buying decisions.

32-inch TV’s used to be the most commonly purchased size, but this has now increased to 40-42 inches. Reduced prices mean that larger sets can be purchased for the of a 32-inch set a few years ago. The shift to HD has no doubt driven consumers to larger sizes, as they try to replicate the theater experience at home. Compared to a 4:3 aspect ratio picture, the picture height of a 32-inch 16:9 aspect ratio picture is almost 4-inches smaller (19.2 vs. 15.69-inches). Stepping up to 40-inches results in a 19.6-inch vertical size.

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