Thursday, April 15, 2010

Don’t Expect a Big Splash From LED Television

LED television sets are readily available now, but don’t expect them to make a big splash. The difference between a LCD television display with an LED backlight and an LED television display is not so obvious that the average high-end TV buyer can pick it out in the store, and store displays are not necessarily very clear about the which is which. The difference in price is obvious, though, with a large-screen LED display costing about $1,000 extra.

The LED display uses less energy. That alone is more than enough to cover the extra initial cost over the 30-year life span of the unit, or perhaps in 10 years if energy prices continue to increase. An LED display can, at least in principle, be used as room lighting when you are not watching a television program. The real reason for someone to buy an LED television, though, is that it is about 1 inch thinner and weighs correspondingly less, so it takes up less space in the room.

In real estate terms, having a television that is one inch thinner is the equivalent of making the living room 1 inch longer. If the real estate value of the living room is $100,000 or more, it doesn’t make good sense to waste that valuable space on a television that is an inch thicker than it has to be. Currently, that would be the case only in the more expensive central neighborhoods of the largest cities. When the price premium for an LED television falls below $400, though, that would describe the average suburban home or apartment. And eventually, perhaps around 2016, LED television prices will fall enough that it will make financial sense for someone who already has a flat-screen television to replace it with a thinner unit that will take up less space in the room. Around the same time, the energy savings will also make the LED television a good choice for anyone buying a replacement television — unless, of course, something even more efficient comes along by then.

In the meantime, retailers will mainly use the LED televisions’ price tags to persuade us that the televisions we end up buying are not so expensive. This is the main reason that LED televisions are sure to find their way into the stores.