Would You Pay More for Less?

Sony’s betting that some HDTV buyers will be happy to shell out more and get less. According to a report by Reuters, the company announced yesterday that they will start shipping a new LCD HDTV that is just 9.9 mm thick. For those who may be metrics-challenged, that is just about 5/32 inch thick. The story does not include technical details, but the panel has to use an edge-lit LED backlight, similar to the 10 mm panel shown by AUO at the SID 2008 Symposium last May.

According to the report, the new model will ship in Japan on November 10 for a $4,478 estimated selling price, “followed closely by overseas launches” which should mean in time for the U.S. holiday shopping season.

All this begs the question, how much more would you pay just to get a thinner screen? Le’s face it, literally. When you’re in the typical TV-viewing position, how can you tell how thick the flat panel is? All the thickness is behind the screen. You only can see the thickness — or lack thereof – when you walk around to the side of the screen. How often do you look at the side of your TV? How much more would you pay to see less when you look at the side of your TV?

I get it if you’ve got some lovely architectural design in your living room, and want the TV set to be a dramatic visual element in the room decor. (Translation: you don’t really notice when you pay several hundred dollars more for your TV set.) But I suspect that most buyers are price sensitive, and not likely to pay extra for a feature that they won’t even see. Now, if the choice is between two sets where one has a thinner bezel around the screen, I might pay more for that because it may make the panel less intrusive in the room and I don’t much like some of these designs that have an acre of shiny black plastic around the screen.

What do you think? Where can the flat panel HDTV makers offer you less and get you to pay more? Write to me at alfred@hdtvprofessor.com and let me know.