Remember when a 57-inch TV was huge? I’m talking 196 pound of rear-projection TV hugeness. Standing tall at more than 54 inches with a depth of over 27 inches, these mammoth sets dominated the room. Yet, those who owned these goliaths were proud. They invited their friends to come experience the light show. The ladies tended to not like them so much - no amount of decorating could make those beasts blend into a room.
A decade later we are back to big. However, we actually had to take a step back in size to go flat. Ten years ago, when my company received its very first in-store display plasma, it was 42 inches. It was a big deal with a price tag of about $10,000.
They didn’t stay that pricey for long. And as prices dropped, there have been noticeable “size trends.” In the beginning of the flat-panel world the elite would pick up a 19-inch for their bedroom and maybe a 46-inch for their great room. As time went on and prices dropped more, you started to see 32 inches become the bedroom TV of choice, and 55 inches became the norm for the great room. It’s been this way for the last few years. Of course, there are those people that have gone bigger and those who stayed smaller (but they WISH they had gone bigger), but for the most part, 55 inches has been the “it” size.
Recently we’ve noticed that 40 to 46 inches is becoming the popular choice for bedrooms. And I’ve had more than one client shell out for a 50- or 55-inch TV for the bedroom (so they can read the font on the screen, I’m told).
What does that mean for the great room?
Big is back!
Enter the new world of TVs at 60-plus inches. With manufacturers finally releasing sets with more appealing prices and larger sizes, I believe we are going to see the great room TV continue to grow. According to DigiTimes, large-size TV sets larger than 50 inches accounted for 27 percent of U.S. LCD TV shipments in the first quarter of this year, up 15 percent from one year before.
Last month we installed our first 80-inch Sharp LED. It was a client’s retirement present to himself, and he loves it (so does his wife). This week we are replacing the TV that lives above our fireplace (which has been different 55-inch models for years) with a Sony 70-inch LED. This is the first set that a client will see when they walk in the door. I wonder if we’ll all have to upgrade our trucks to be able to deliver these larger displays?
"The U.S. market is starting to reposition toward higher end TV sets," said IHS analyst Veronica Thayer. "Now that most homes have at least one flat-panel TV, consumers have become more discerning in their tastes and place more value on features like LED backlighting, large screens, and interactive smart TVs."
Finally! Make sure your showroom is ready. Show customers that even though they’re large, these flat screens are more apt to fit within the room than ever before. Maybe, just maybe, we integrators have a chance to get back into the TV game. Who knows better than us what TV would fit best in their room and in their life?
The bigger the TV the more important the specs become. If we can show the value in purchasing the set from an independent dealer (and we have a chance to make a profit again), this could be round two of the TV game. Adding hope is the fact that many manufacturers have (finally) instituted pricing structures to make sure no one is giving away the farm.
What's your next move?
Heather L. Sidorowicz is project manager/designer for Southtown Audio Video in Hamburg, NY.