Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Why Are 30″ LCD Monitors Still So Expensive?

Philip Greenspun:

Five and a half years ago, I wrote a posting marveling that the Dell 30″ LCD monitor was selling for $1279. My HP-brand 30″ monitor seems to be flaking out, so I was considering replacing it with another Dell (my six year-old Dell monitor is still going strong). What’s the latest price from Dell? $1299! With LCD TV prices on a constant downward trend, how is it possible that the 30″ computer monitor remains stuck at over $1000? It is just that nobody wants this size? Newegg.com sells 27″ name-brand monitors (e.g., Samsung) for $300, but it would be hard to give up the extra size and resolution to which I have become accustomed.

Granted the current models are much better IPS displays, but I still find this surprising. I’m using a 5-year-old Dell display that also seems to be flaking out. I keep thinking some new product or price change will signal that it’s time to replace it, but that hasn’t happened yet. You’d think that, with Xcode 4 and Aperture, Apple would have some interest in producing displays larger than 27 inches. Now I think we may see a TV first.

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I have noticed the same thing. When I researched this years ago, I seem to recall there being some connection to the size of the glass used in a 30" monitor. IIRC, the glass for a 30" is a bit of an odd size for the assembly lines. In order to make it, they have to shut down the line and do some kind of retooling. For whatever reason, this isn't necessary for the smaller sizes (27" and smaller).

As a result, the 30" commands higher prices due to lower volume. I *think* the reason TVs get around this is because the glass in question is made in 2 (or more) pieces and joined together somehow. We don't see the line where they join (low resolution? sit too far away?) but we would on a high res monitor.

On Newegg.com, the $300 27" monitors are 1920x1080: when you filter by 2560x1440, they start at $680.

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