back to article LCD TV shipments slip for FIRST TIME EVER

TV makers are desperate for the Next Big Thing. It's not hard to see why: even LCD TV sales are now falling. Year-on-year LCD shipments fell for the first time ever during Q1, market watcher NPD DisplaySearch said today. It was a small dip - down just three per cent - but symptomatic of an industry in decline. Other …


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  1. fishman


    "Plasma is hanging on because of demand for low-cost 2D models among cost-conscious consumers."

    Plasma also has the best picture (as long as the room isn't excessively bright). As an example, my BD season 1 set of Game of Thrones (bought due to the Reg's excellent review of it) is amazing on plasma - the darks don't get washed out.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Plasma

      Plenty of 3D ones too. Also you can sit to one side without the picture being reduced to washed-out catshit, like it is on LCDs, so you don't have to have a long, thin room with the TV at one end to make 'em work. Colour definition tends to be better too, especially in darker scenes.

      I reckon they're rather better in well-lit rooms than LCDs are.

      But they do use a bit more 'leccy and greenness is evryfing, right?

      I seriously regret buying an LCD and would swap it for a similarly specced (and cheaper) plasma tomorrow, were it not for the fact that I need to wring some value out of my mistake first.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Plasma

        Not just greeness - I understand that LCD panels exhibit less latency for video games, and are better suited to use as a PC monitor.

        Also, are there still issues with screen burn and general life span with Plasma?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Plasma

          Response time is near instantaneous with plasma, much like CRT. LCD is the technology where you need to worry about this.

          As for lifespan and burn in, in my sports bar I've got 21 plasmas (17 Panasonic and 4 LG) some as old as 2005 which have been on ~100 hours a week since purchase. Not one has ever had a problem or needed service, and even those 2005 generation Panasonics have never exhibited burn in despite often being on the same channel for 17-18 consecutive hours. I can't say whether they've lost brightness or not, but if so its not noticeable.

          Plasmas never had a chance in the PC monitor market because it has never been possible to make small ones cost effectively. Not much of a market for a 42" monitor!

  2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    It is possible to have TV that is 'good enough'

    Once people have replaced all their CRTs and small LCDs, they will stick with what they have until it breaks, and the market will reach saturation.

    Once a technology matures (and this is any technology) so that further improvements no longer enhance the perceived customer experience, it becomes driven only by replacing broken instances of the technology. I think we can see this from the dip in computer sales, which will be echoed in laptop and tablets over the coming years. TVs just have had a longer journey, although if you look at LCD TVs, that chapter has been quite short.

    I personally can't wait for this time to happen, because we just can't continue making new things with short lifetimes. Will break Capitalism, though!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: It is possible to have TV that is 'good enough'

      > because we just can't continue making new things with short lifetimes.

      You are kidding right?

      What do we make that has a short lifetime?

      TV's used to rapidly degrade and required specialists to adjust the picture to regain some semblance of its former quality. Today I have several TV's over 15 years old that have no noticeable decrease in picture quality. The plasma I bought 12 years ago still functions perfectly.

      Forty years ago cars used to fall apart after a couple of years, now they last decades.

      I've got computers running now that are 10-15 years old and they run perfectly. They don't run "slow", they run at the same speed now as the day they were manufactured.

      Pretty much everything we make today has a long lifetime due to advances made in manufacturing.

      Or are you talking about innovation? Do you really mean that we need to stop improving things? Thats not going to happen. Human beings have been improving things since the day they first learnt to stand up and scratch their head.

      1. fiddley

        Re: It is possible to have TV that is 'good enough'

        Have to say, I agree with grandparent post here. Nothing lasts nowadays as well as it used to. Unless you we're very unlucky washing machines would go for 15 years no fuss, tvs - not unusual to get 20 years out of one. Nowadays everything is built down to tolerances so fine, you are lucky to get 5 years. I mean, it just does not make sense for manufacturers to make things that last ages, they need to drive the price down as low as they can get it and you don't get that by over-engineering anything. You get exceptions, of course - Miele is one brand that springs to mind, but their washers for example start at around 4 or 5 times the price of your basic hoover, hotpoint or zanussi appliance. It's all about inbuilt-obsolesence, gets the customers coming back for more stuff more often. Oh, they might not choose your product next time, but you'll pick up as many ticked-off customers from your competitors as they pick up from you. There's a reason we're all CONSUMERS nowadays, and not CUSTOMERS anymore.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It is possible to have TV that is 'good enough'

        I see very few older cars on the road these days - when was the last time you saw a Renault 5, for example? Ask your mechanic about the life span of engines - they tend to be of the opinion that legislation regarding emissions forces engine redesign, so tried-and-tested designs aren't tweaked - common rail injection is fine for the first owner, but when they start playing up, they are a bugger to fix.

        You only have to look at the spare parts webpage for Hotpoint white goods to see that they are happy to use parts that do not last, then charge you £20 for an injection moulded replacement that cost tuppence to make. Charging extra for spare parts to subsidise and make competitive the original purchase price is a pretty old practice. in the case of cars, these spare parts are often paid for by an insurance claim, so disguised from you, the consumer, in your premiums.

        If you are making products for a competitive price, making it last for many years (even if there are not reasons for deliberately making it fail after two years) is going to be far down your list of priorities- it takes more expensive materials, processes and testing. If you do achieve it, you will want a return on your effort. Snap-On tools have a life-time, no quibble, no receipt needed guarantee- but they price their products accordingly.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It is possible to have TV that is 'good enough'

          You are seriously deluded if you think that manufacturers deliberately sabotage their own products so that they break down after a couple of years.

          Reliability is a major selling point. Everybody I know who lives in a house has a washing machine, fridge, freezer, cooker, microwave, TV and many other electrical appliances. If the one's who own Hotpoint appliances are moaning about them breaking down after a couple of years I won't buy Hotpoint. The manufacturers know that if they have a reputation for producing products that break down then people will not buy them. They will simply buy the products from any of the dozens of other washing machine/fridge/freezer/etc manufacturers.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: It is possible to have TV that is 'good enough'


            The door latch on our Hotpoint tumble-dryer warped in the heat. Who would have thought that a component in a tumble dryer would have got hot?

            Had it been engineered to last, they would have used a thermosetting plastic, not a thermoplastic. Personally, I would consider that a design flaw. Their spares sales website was geared towards the consumer, not the professional white-goods repair man, and the price charged more than ten times the cost of manufacture and stocking the part.

            It was noted in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance* that new products are subsidised by the spare parts - that was the 1970s. You can show this to yourself by pricing up, say, a motorcycle from the its parts catalogue - you will be looking at roughly a factor of three over its retail price.

            Reliability is something that people consider when buying a new product, but not the only thing- it doesn't get to trump all other factors automatically. When competing factors are in play - as they usually are- the end product will be a result of the cost / benefit analysis of the designer. Hell- look at how unreliable Formula 1 cars can be (especially M. Schumacher's first season for Ferrari) - their priority is speed. Those buying a Landcruiser are basing their decision on different priorities.

            * written by a writer of technical manuals.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: It is possible to have TV that is 'good enough'


              There are only so many features you can include in a tumble dryer so reliability is an important factor. If you have found Hotpoint to be unreliable then you can choose your next tumble dryer from one of the following competing manufacturers:

              AEG, Baumatic, Beko, Bosch, Candy, Caple, CDA, Electrolux, Hoover, LG, Miele, Russell Hobbs, Siemens, Whirlpool, White Knight or Zanussi.

              They are all competing with Hotpoint and with each other. Any edge they can get over the opposition they will take, whether they see that edge as cheaper door latches so as to sell at a lower price or more expensive ones to improve reliability.

              Which? (also known as the Consumers Association) is a charity that has been testing consumer products in the UK for over 50 years. One of the key factors in all their product reports is reliability. It is not a trivial feature and it is something that has continuously improved over the years.

              > pricing up, say, a motorcycle from the its parts catalogue - you will be looking at roughly a factor of three over its retail price.

              That depends upon whether I am building a single motorbike or a 10000. The more I build the closer to the retail price I will get. Buy one of something and you basically have to pay the prices they set. Buy thousands and you will get substantial discounts.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It is possible to have TV that is 'good enough'

          > when was the last time you saw a Renault 5, for example?

          You wont see many pre 2000 cars because the scrappage scheme effectively got rid of most of them.

          I have just sold my 10 year old car. The MPG I was getting was within 10% of when I bought it and there were no rust spots anywhere on the car. All the equipment worked perfectly except the rear window heater interfered with the radio. The only reason I sold it was because I needed something with more luggage space. Mind you, I looked after it. Had it serviced every year and cleaned regularly.

          Back in 1974 my Dad sold his 4 year old Morris 1100. The boot leaked, the floor had metal plates riveted on it, and the bodywork was bubbling in many places. I lost count of the number of times he took the engine apart to replace a leaking gasket. He had similar problems with the Marina, Princess and Dolomite cars he bought in the 70s. Things have improved since then and the last car he had was 17 years old with nearly 200,000 miles on the clock which he kept until his failing eyesight stopped him driving.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: It is possible to have TV that is 'good enough'

            I suspect that Condiment doesn't have a manufacturing background, though he is right to note that generally cars have become reliable.

            However, I don't think that he should have cited the Scrappage Scheme: we all know that making a car consumes a great deal of energy and resouces; the motivation behind the scheme was to spur the UK motor manufacturing industry. Well, at least the EU industry... In this case, 'make do and mend' opposed industry and 'the economy'.

            Whether new cars will last decades - no one knows.

            Calling people 'seriously deluded' for stating that products aren't designed to last decades but rather to make money for the company by meeting consumer expectations and applicable legislation is a little... eager.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: AC @ 22:57

              > I suspect that Condiment doesn't have a manufacturing background....

              I suspect that you would be wrong for at least a decade of my working life.

              > However, I don't think that he should have cited the Scrappage Scheme: we all know that making a car consumes a great deal of energy and resouces: the motivation....

              What does that have to do with anything? The scrappage scheme was mentioned as a reason for not seeing many Renault 5's. Motivations behind it, energy and resource usage have absolutely nothing to do with it.

              > Calling people 'seriously deluded' for stating that products aren't designed to last decades ...

              That isn't what I said. Let me say it again just to refresh your memory:

              You are seriously deluded if you think that manufacturers deliberately sabotage their own products so that they break down after a couple of years.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: It is possible to have TV that is 'good enough'

            Where do you live??? At least half the people on my street have a car 10 years old or so - M reg to X reg, that sort of range. And it's a normal enough street - victorian terraces, in a regular suburb. Round me people aren't buying new ones (or even newer second hand ones) cos they can't afford it. We've got an 08 model - which we bought last year mind - and it's the 2nd newest vehicle on the street.

    2. TimNevins

      Re: It is possible to have TV that is 'good enough'


      Worth a look to understand a little about planned obsolescence and perceived obsolescence

  3. Lee Dowling Silver badge

    Well, once you have a nice big LCD TV in your living room and a couple of small ones dotted about the house, you probably won't be replacing them for years, certainly not for every fad that comes along.

    Short of exploding TV's, of course sales will plateau without some incentive. The incentive, though, is not 3D or HHHHHD, or some other gimmick any more.

    When LCD TV's came out, we started to replace our huge cubical boxes with them because - and this is pretty much the biggest selling point of an LCD - you could hang them flush on the wall and regain 16 or so cubic feet of space for no loss. When HD came out, it didn't really hit home (and I still see people playing SD content on HD TV's and gasping over it without realising) but, along with digital TV and the LCD space-saving incentive, it was the right time to change hardware and almost everyone did. At once. Now. Done. Finished. Even grandmas had to change their telly to keep watching Corrie, so they did, got themselves some room in the corner of their living room, and carried on.

    What's to change that for again? Maybe some early adopters missed out on the HD-ness, or the digital-side but they've rebought or compensated for that mistake now. So all you're seeing are natural, base-line sales after everyone's upgraded to the superior product (for many reasons, combining to a SINGLE upgrade for each TV over the last few years).

    You can't keep making people upgrade things like that without an incentive and, really, what's the incentive now? 3D? No thanks. A lot of people can't even see it or it affects their vision so you can't just bundle it by default either (poor sods with vision in only one eye probably REFUSE to upgrade to it, even for free, for instance).

    I have deliberately put off buying an LCD TV until it settled, for instance, and that point was probably last year. The problem is - my TV still works and in 4:3 is actually giving a bigger image on widescreen content than a lot of widescreens (so it's actually a loss to all of my stored 4:3 content to upgrade to anything that isn't something ridiculous like 40"). I don't need the space but may be moving soon and, yes, probably then I will buy myself a nice LCD TV to get the most out of a having a bigger room with no cabling worries.

    But after that? What do they expect me to do? Just keep buying TV's for no benefit? It ain't going to happen. For a few hundred quid, I can get a 36" LCD TV with Ethernet, Twin-SCART, quad-HDMI, VGA, DVI, Composite and even Aerial in, with Freeview tuner, interactive content, DLNA access, internet-browsing, USB ports, smartphone control, less energy consumption than my old CRT, and more knobs and whistles than I can shake a stick at. Precisely what else do they think I *need*, to the point I will throw all that away to buy something else, if I already have that?

    The market "dwindling" isn't news. It's just hit peak and now we can get back to normality until some moron decides that 1080p isn't enough and we all need to have 7 million HD channels and not just a few thousand ordinary channels on our digital TV.

    1. Eddy Ito

      Wait! There's more!!

      It does get comical after a while doesn't it?

      TV salesman: "Buy now and you'll get 3D, VHD, and supermongoHD cubed! But that's not all! What if I throw in more subpixel colours? That's right our new SuperTV Megaprime now has 256 different colour sub pixels! Now how much would you pay?"

      Me: "Umm, about $10 or $12 per diagonal inch."

  4. Tom 35


    People have upgraded to Digital/HD now and are good for a few years at least.

    Like the upgrade to CD give sales a big boost the upgrade to LCD is not something that will go on forever. The attempt to get people to upgrade again with DVD Audio failed and the attempt to get people to upgrade again with 3D or "smart" TV is almot sure to have little effect.

  5. Sporkinum

    Count me as one who hasn't

    Like Mr Dowling said, I would lose screen size watching 4:3 content. My gigantic current TV, which was free, still works fine. I still look occasionally, but really haven't felt the need to drop the cash yet. Hardly ever watch TV in the bedroom too, so I don't see replacing that small one as well.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Count me as one who hasn't

      "I would lose screen size watching 4:3 content."

      Not if you make sure that the vertical dimension of the screen is the same you wouldn't.

      Unless of course you're one of these complete bleedin' idiots who reckon that "black bars" are some TV company conspiracy to deprive you of the use of your pixels............

      1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

        Re: Count me as one who hasn't

        Have you seen how large a 16:9 TV you need to get the same vertical size as an old, large, 4:3 CRT? 36" TV's were hardly out of the ordinary in either format, so if you had anything larger than that as 4:3, there's hardly a TV you can buy for under a grand that will give you the same vertical size.

        Black bars are inevitable, on the side or above the picture, but I'd rather have "free" black bars on my widescreen programs that still give me a WIDER and TALLER image than a cheap LCD would and nothing on my 4:3 content, than "expensive" black bars on my normal programs that would give me a NARROWER image even on a top-of-the-range, huge LCD.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Count me as one who hasn't

          You don't need to get that much bigger to make up the difference in height, and you end up with a lot more width, which tends to make for a different kind of viewing experience. Taking for example, I upgraded from a 27" CRT (4:3) to a 37" LCD (16:9). I was originally going to go for a 32" but the 5" increase (for no function loss) was only a $50 step-up and still within the $500 budget set aside for it (needed the new TV as the old one was starting to lose it--we tolerated the Red loss, but when the picture began to crunch, we knew it was going). It's slightly taller than the 27" was, fully 1080p-capable and quite a satisfactory purchase. It lacks bells and whistles and a bunch of image-enhancing goodness, and of course this was all before the 3D craze took off (not that I'd be too interested; the one time I watched Avatar in 3D I left the theater with a mild headache and a distinct disinterest in how the effects came off), but it runs like a champ.

          Now, taking your example, you had a 36" 4:3 TV. Based on the 3:4:5 triangle ratio, that meant your picture was a little over 21½" high. Applying a little basic trig, we get that to match that height on a 16:9 TV you would need a picture diagonal of at least 44". TVs in the 42-46" range run about $500-600 or so, depending on brand, picture capability, and extra features. Not exactly wallet-breaking if budgeted ahead of time.

    2. Chris 3

      Re: Count me as one who hasn't

      Sorry, but how much 4:3 content is there, these days?

      1. Jedit

        "Sorry, but how much 4:3 content is there, these days?"

        Erm ... almost every TV show released before 1993?

  6. Alan Brown Silver badge

    "exploding TVs" do drive some sales

    Not quite as spectacular as it sounds, but CCFL backlight screens still have problems with the inverters frying themselves, usually because of badcaps - and they tend to be uneconomic to fix.

    I wonder how much deeper the sales decline would be if that was factored out (It's a good reason for looking at LED backlights. Even f those die it's a led replacement, not nasty high voltage crap which spikes back and klls the entire PSU.)

    1. pixl97

      Re: "exploding TVs" do drive some sales

      I wonder how many flat screens are replaced each year due to WiiMotes used without a wrist strap.

      My neighbor got some huge flatscreen and within a week had ruined it that way.

  7. Sithlord

    Modern TVs dirty secret.. huge input lag.

    Plasma & LCD both have one huge flaw which CRT TVs dont..: INPUT LAG.

    The latest Panasonic VT50 range (even in the fastest gaming mode) have around 40-50ms of input lag.. and with gaming mode off its even more.

    If your playing online fighting games or FPS against someone whos got virtually <16 ms input lag.. your going to lose bad as he sees you way before you will see him.

  8. WonkoTheSane

    "LCD TV shipments slip for FIRST TIME EVER"

    Because world+dog already has one (or more).

  9. P. Lee Silver badge


    Oh you mean my pc monitor!

    Yep, still not going to buy a tv screen.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    New CRT Monitors?

    Anyone know where I can buy a brand new CRT monitor? Sony GDM-FW900 ideally but of course this is impossible now.

  11. Eddie Edwards
    Thumb Down

    Super non-story

    A 3% dip is symptomatic of an industry in decline. It's also symptomatic of a random fluctuation. If it's the first ever dip it is obviously too early to say which it is.

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