Cheaper notebooks by Christmas

TFT-LCD screen shortages over and prices coming down

British shoppers can look forward to cheaper notebooks this autumn thanks to falling TFT-LCD screen prices.

The global supply of the panels needed to make the screens is starting to overtake demand following a couple of years of shortages.

This is largely thanks to new capacity - in the mid-1980s monitor manufacture was largely the domain of the Japanese, followed by the Koreans. The big factor now is the arrival of the Taiwanese. The last 18 months of investment from Taiwanese companies is starting to kick in, and this mass production has caused TFT-LCD prices to drop.

Taiwanese manufacturers, like Quanta, Compal and Arima, have slashed prices of their display products, such as notebook computers and monitors, and are now selling at 30 per cent below Korean product prices, TheDigitalChosun reported.

The global price of 14in TFT-LCDs fell to around $450 this month, from $530 in January. Samsung Electronics recently cut its 17in screen price to around $850 - from $1200, with Philips' core 18in product going to $1100 from $1800 early this year.

Falling screen prices will inevitably have a knock-on effect: "The pricing of panels is coming down, but it's not falling off a cliff edge," said Bob Raikes, Display Monitor managing editor.

Raikes said it would have the biggest effect on more expensive, active-matrix screens, where people would probably see a couple of hundred dollars knocked off the price at OEM level later this year. Or in his words: "You'll get more bang for your buck." ®

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