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Special report: CRTs on borrowed time

LCDs poised for world domination, ready or not

CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors look set to get flattened by LCD screens according to PC Advisor's most recent poll. The results of the poll are representative of a worldwide change in monitor purchases.

Attracting more than 1,000 votes in little more than a week, the poll showed a surprisingly large proportion (41.7 percent) of respondents thought the race was already over.

LCD monitor shipments now make up 12.4 percent of the worldwide desktop monitor market, according research company Display Search.

Behind the booming interest in LCD monitors is a sharp reduction in price, which has seen the cost of 15in panels drop 40 percent in the past year.

The recommended retail price for LG's FL563LE 15in LCD flat screen, currently at number five in the PC Advisor Top 10 Flat-panel displays chart is a mere £299.

Meanwhile, monitor manufacturer Hansol is readying its H530 15in model for the Christmas upgrade party by giving it a £349 price tag.

Hansol's sales and marketing director, Alan Penman, told PC Advisor he had been hoping for an even higher response from our poll.

Though he believes CRT still has a lifespan of six to seven years, with 15in models dying out in the next 18 months, Penman said Hansol would be rolling out seven flat-panel models in the coming weeks to meet growing demand.

And it's not just the monitor manufacturers that are seeing an uplift in demand.
Worcestershire-based PC maker Evesham.com claims LCD monitor sales are "going like blinking hot cakes".

According to managing director Richard Austin, the company is selling around 2,000 LCD monitors as part of PC bundles. Last year the figure was nearer to 200.

"We are shipping equal amounts of 15in and 17in and significantly more 18in than last year," he said.

But if you're going to upgrade to an LCD flat-panel, you'd be advised to get your skates on.

With demand finally exceeding supply, panel manufacturers now have the confidence to demand their pound of flesh and recoup the losses they've incurred from promoting the LCD flat-panel sector for the past 18 months.

And as the flat-panel makers pass on their costs to the monitor vendors, consumers may well feel the knock-on effects in the run up to Christmas.

PC Advisor readers have their say

PC Advisor reader Gordon Smith is ready to take the plunge, but only when the vendors cut out the bells and whistles.

"Once the LCD manufacturers realise that the ideal screen is just that — a screen cutting out the stereo speakers and microphones, which are but poor substitutes — then I will probably buy," he says.

"The death of the CRT must only be a matter of time," says reader Simon Ghent, commonly known to visitors to the PC Advisor forums as Mr Anderson.

"When digital LCD flat-panels, — combined with the enhanced text definition facility on Windows XP — finally arrive in the budget sector, the CRT's current saving grace, picture quality, will no longer hold true," he predicts.

Reader Steve Hagues, who helped to develop the humble transistor in the 1950s, isn't quite so sure.

"It's going to be a long time before the basic CRT and its improvements give way to LCD screens," he says.

"The technology is simply not there to drop the price of LCD screens, I know we would all love one but it's the price that will keep them off the consumer's desk."


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