ADVERTISEMENT With 42-inch flat-panel TVs flying off retailers' shelves this holiday season as prices dip below $1,000, brokerage house Sanford C. Bernstein said in a research note on Tuesday that 70-inch TVs could be the "right size" in 2009.
"We decided to investigate the optimal screen size for high definition viewing," wrote analyst Jeff Evenson in the note. "We conclude that 65 inch to 75 inch is the right size for a 10 foot viewing distance."
Evenson said LCD televisions are free of three barriers that limited the size of traditional TV screens—weight, thickness and cost—meaning large-sized LCDs could become more prevalent in homes.
While a 34-inch bulky tube TV could weigh roughly 200 pounds, Evenson said a 57-inch flat-panel LCD TV weighs only 125 pounds, making it more manageable.
An LCD TV is also not inhibited by a thickness that increases dramatically as the TV gets larger—like it does with a tube TV.
"We believe that a TV's depth creates a barrier to purchase in two ways: it decreases the effect distance viewers sit from the screen and thicker screens can not fit through small doorways and tight turns," he said.
If a tube TV was made as large as the larger LCDs, he said its depth without the shipping box would approach the width of some apartment doors—making them impossible to get inside.
Lastly, he said the cost of larger LCDs should continue to decrease, spurring their popularity.
"Affordability of large screens has and should continue to improve," Evenson wrote. "Our analysis indicates that 70 inch - 80 inch screens could cost around $3,000 in 2010."
With Samsung Corp expected to ramp 70 inch production and AU Optronics expected to ramp up 65 inch production in early 2007, he said TV size growth seems unlikely to slow.
This could be good news for Corning Inc., which manufactures glass substrates used in large flat-screen TVs.
"We believe the long-term valuation of Corning depends largely on demand for LCD substrate glass," he wrote. "We expect that LCD TV adoption will exceed consensus and that increasing screen diagonals ... will compound the substrate demand growth rates."
Bernstein has an "outperform" rating on Corning shares and a $28 price target.