Flat panel monitors – models marketed without a digital tuner – have become mainstream consumer products according to Pacific Media Associates (PMA), a Menlo Park, Calif.-based market research firm.

These newly released figures include all flat panel displays of 30-inch and larger

sizes sold in all markets.

PMA’s monthly Retailer/Reseller Tracking Service, which gathers, analyzes, and reports on true sell-through to end-users, found in April that flat panel monitors are booming for models intended for both the professional and the consumer end markets.

Sales that month of all 30-inch and larger flat panels represented a 55 per cent increase from April 2003. But the growth in the consumer portion was even higher; a huge 69 per cent increase from the year before, said Rosemary Abowd, who directs PMA’s flat panel displays research.

“These findings are even more significant if one considers that April is normally the beginning of the summer seasonal purchase trend slump, “” she said.

What is driving this explosive growth? According to Tom Edwards, PMA’s senior vice-president of consumer electronics, it is a combination of the following:

• Both PDP and LCD TVs and TV monitors have become more affordable. That $10,000 (all figures in U.S. dollars) 42-inch PDP introduced six years ago can now be purchased for $2,000. And PMA’s April report showed that the average selling price for 50-inch models dipped to just above $7,000 — the lowest in survey history.

• Consumer awareness of flat panels has grown exponentially. People are attracted to the sleek, sexy style of the high tech, thin panel compared to the bulky box of the venerable picture tube TV.

• Almost every electronics store now offers an assortment of flat panels that range from 50 to 150 inches.

• DVD, Direct Broadcast Satellite, digital cable, and high definition have created a demand for digital equipment and flat panels are perceived as the technology that has it. The widescreen aspect ratio offered by many of the larger flat panels is considerably appealing.

Bill Coggshall is the president of PMA, a market research and publishing firm that specializes in the worldwide large-screen displays business, covering all technologies that can produce an audience-sized picture on a wall or screen from an electronic (video or computer) signal.

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