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Since their mainstream debut at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show, 3D TVs have been a niche product. Sky-high prices, competing technologies, and expensive glasses have given consumers more than enough reasons to ditch these TVs in favor of lower-priced LCDs.
However, we're predicting this summer will be the year that 3D TV (finally) goes mainstream; not only have we noticed a continued decrease in 3D prices, but the introduction of third-tier manufacturers to the market has already ushered in new price lows. Read on to learn what prices we're seeing now, and what you can expect to pay for a new 3D TV.
Declining Prices and Budget Alternatives
2011 was not a busy year for 3D TVs. In fact, lagging sales and cutthroat competition (from less expensive sets) forced 55" 3D TVs to drop 33% in price. Prices fell so rapidly that by the end of the year we added 3D TVs to our list of items that will cost less in 2012. And although prices on these TVs crept back up in January, February saw an all-time low as we listed our first 55" 3D TV deal from a third-tier vendor.
The deal itself was an in-store bundle consisting of a Sigmac 55" 1080p 3D LED-Backlit Widescreen LCD HDTV with two pairs of 3D glasses for $699 at Fry's. That $699 price was 30% lower than our previous all-time low, and set a new benchmark for 3D TV deals.
And that's not all. This summer Westinghouse is expected to shake things up further when it enters the 3D TV market with its W47 series — the company's first 3D TV. The 47" TV won't offer Internet connectivity nor will it be LED-backlit (as most 3D LCD TVs are), but the lack of these features is what will keep its price tag affordable.
More Affordable Price Points for 3D in the Coming Months
Although that Westinghouse model is expected to debut with an MSRP of $899, you probably won't be paying list price for the set. Once it hits stores, we anticipate seeing the first deals slash as much as 25% off, dropping it to about $674. For comparison, the cheapest 47" LCD HDTV we've ever seen clocked in at $500, but more consistently they hover between $550 and $600.
That said, it may take awhile before we see similar deals on brand name 55" 3D TVs, but you can rest assured that brand name manufacturers will eventually react and adjust their prices accordingly. In the months that follow after Black Friday, for example, name-brand retailers typically approach the rock-bottom TV prices that we see from third-tier manufacturers during the shopping holiday. Now that the 3D technology has both name- and off-brand models in the game, perhaps a similar relationship could result.
Combine that with competition from newly released 2012 TVs, and this coming year will be the ideal time to buy your new 55" 3D TV. We'd just recommend waiting for the Westinghouse unit to debut and receive its first discount; and if you can, watch carefully for any aggressive cuts from competitors. However, if you must buy now and don't mind owning a third-tier brand 55" TV, $699 is the current price to beat. Otherwise, look for name-brand 55" sets priced under $999 (a price we've already seen in October and November).