Market research firm Pacific Media Associates’s (PMA) latest findings show key North American resellers of large-format (20+ inches) displays perceive that both plasma and LCD technologies have roughly equal advantages but each has a different set of strengths and weaknesses.

According to the

annual reseller survey conducted by the Menlo Park, Calif.-based PMA, the conventional wisdom that LCDs offer better lifetime and less burn-in tendency was supported by the 122 respondents.

Rosemary Abowd, who directs PMA’s research on large-format flat panel displays, said the survey also found that plasma had clear advantages in terms of size ranges offered, contrast ratio, and price. Regarding displaying different content, plasma was strong for full motion video and LCDs for static text/graphics.

The survey asked resellers to rate plasma displays vs. large LCD displays in the following areas:

  • Price;
  • Useful size ranges;
  • Resolution choices;
  • Brightness;
  • Contrast;
  • Quality of full-motion video or moving computer text/graphics;
  • Quality of static text and graphics;
  • Lifetime; and
  • Burn-in.

PMA in other study found that North American buyers of plasma displays and 20-inch LCD displays or larger have recently put a dent in the “bigger is better” theory commonplace in the market for large flat panel displays (FPDs).

The sub-40 inch size category grew from a 12 per cent share to a 22 per cent one, a near-doubling in size, which is dramatic in such a short period of time.

“We think that an important factor in this growth was the seven per cent decline in average street price, in contrast to less than one per cent price movements for size categories of 40 inches and above,” Abowd said.

“A second factor that likely also helped considerably was the strongly increasing role of Sony’s consumer models in this size range. Sony now has a share of over 50 per cent of the sub-40 inch market.”

“The large FPD market is still behaving like the Wild West,” says PMA’s president, William Coggshall, “with dramatic shifts in product preferences, market shares, and distribution channels. But given the continued depressed state of the American economy, it is not surprising that buyers are opting for the lower-priced smaller screens. And even though the screens are smaller, on average they have higher resolutions than many 42-inch models, so that they provide a good picture even if viewed from relatively short distances.

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