THG Trendwatch #3: Prices for 17" LCDs on the increase

Chicago (IL) - Shortages in the mainstream LCD market cause prices for 17" screens to stabilize and in most cases to increase. While the current trend is expected to be short term only, consumers on the hunt for the best value in a computer monitor may want to look at 20" models.

If it's time to throw out that old CRT or upgrade from a 15" LCD to a stylish, larger screen monitor, a 17" device is the obvious choice for most applications. But in contrast to most LCD panel markets with sizes of more than 10 inches, the 17" segment currently is affected by what analysts call an "imbalance" of supply and demand, causing pricing such monitors to increase.

The current shortage is a result of a combination of new production capacity not being able to keep up with increasing demand, LCD manufacturers pushing the 19" market, as well as ongoing effects of decreased supply of glass substrates for large-sized TFT-LCD panels earlier this year.

Jin Kim, Director of TFT LCD Market Research at market research firm Displaysearch, believes that this situation will last just for a few months - until manufacturers have caught up with the environment. Production capacities for 17" panels already are on the increase and will "balance" the 17" segment in near future, Kim said. Data provided by's Market Reporter, confirms this evaluation of the current market. Popular 17" screen LCD models dominating the channel at this time show increasing or at least stagnating price points.

For example, Samsung's Syncmaster 710N-2, showed average etail market pricing around $430 in February of this year, dropped to about $240 in May of this year, but current offers average around $247, according to Market Reporter. A similar scenario can be seen with Dell's 1704FPV: The device became available in February for about $295, dropped to $265 in May and now etails for an average of $307. On the high end, LG's L178U was launched in February of this year for around $570, fell to $420 in May and now lists for around $460.

Despite climbing prices, 17" LCDs still tend to be the lowest-priced LCDs in absolute Dollars. But users who are looking for the most bang for their buck should look elsewhere. 19" LCDs models are hitting average price points in the low 300's already, with $299 models slated to become more common in the Christmas shopping season. For example, Samsungs Syncmaster 915N currently etails for around $320, Dell's E193FP sells for around $302 and Viewsonic's VX910 for $336. But Kim advises buyers to skip the 19" segment completely, since these LCDs make use of a 5:4 screen ratio. One step higher, 20" monitors return to the 4:3 ratio and should be available for around $450 soon. Currently, Market Reporter data lists average etail pricing for 20" models from about $500 for Dell's 2005FPW to about $590 for Viewsonic's VP201b model.