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Iiyama vows to break 30″ ‘price control cartel’

The year is 2011. We know a lot about technology. One of the things we know, 100% for certain, is that all products get cheaper. Even Microsoft Windows bows to market forces and drops in price periodically. As technology becomes more affordable, we have a tendency to upgrade. Everywhere that is, except for the high end TFT panel market. Why is that? KitGuru investigates.

Remember a time when monitor glass was fish-bowl shaped and screens measured 12-15″ ?

What we like to refer to as 'the golden years'

Then companies like Iiyama led a mini-revolution with the VisionMaster Pro and 17″ CRT became the standard for several years. You could upgrade to a 19″ CRT or bigger, but only if you invested in a set of Schwarzenegger arms to carry it up and down stairs.

Arnie was one of the only people in the world who had enough money to afford 2 big CRTs and the strength to carry them to his office. Shot in the days where many screens were black & white

TFT was a beautiful revolution. A technology that had been around, in essence, for many years in expensive laptops – finally went through the rapid development phases needed to bring costs down, while increasing both surface area and image quality.

Owning a 17″, 18″ or 19″ flat panel made you feel special. Sure, the screen was still square and – in most cases – limited to 1280×1024, but we dreamt of an affordable future where panels would engulf the entirety of the space available for human visual perception.

When the change came, it came hard and fast.

Almost overnight, we went from square to wide screen and from 1280×1024 to 1680×1050.

Then came the increase in panel sizes.

Iiyama was a clear market leader again. Having re-invested itself, from a super-mass-market giant into a selective manufacturer – only placing orders where it was absolutely certain of (a) generating big market interest and (b) selling out completely.

At the end of 2008, Iiyama gave the market what we had all wanted for many, many years. The systematically named ProLite E2208HDS was the first 22″ screen with the capability of delivering a full HD (1080p) experience. The fact that it was priced under £150 was a massive bonus.

Imagine a world without KitGuru. Wow. Scary thought.

OK, so what is this ‘cartel’ to which we refer?

There are only a handful of factories on the planet which can make the glass etc for panels. The number of places producing 30″ panels is even smaller. KitGuru believes the number of outlets is ‘1’.

So what happens when Apple, Dell, Lenovo etc place enough orders that the entire stock for the year is already allocated?

Well, try this logic and see what you think. Roll the clock back to a time when nVidia was joined in the land of Dual Link DVI by ATI’s X1800 cards with Avivo. We’re talking 2005. To demonstrate Avivo, sites like Anandtech used Apple Cinema Screens. Costing over £1,200 each, these 30″ panels which were capable of 2560×1600.

At that time, a 26″ TFT would have set you back up to £750.

Now it is 2011.

Now the Iiyama E2507WS is just £242.

Products like the Apple 30″ panel are still £1,200. Dell is also batting around £1,200 with its 30″ panel.

So the question needs to be asked…

“How is it possible, in the world of modern technology, that 26″ screens can drop over 65% in price, while screens that are 4” bigger hardly move?

No one is pointing any fingers, and we’re sure that it must be a desperately complex situation that no one human can truly understand (insert sarcastic accent where appropriate).

However, if one company, any company, could get into the group that ‘buys all of the 30″ panels’ and make it competitive – then KitGuru believes a lot of our readers would (a) really appreciate that and (b) be willing to pay a sensible amount of money for the upgrade.

With decent 26″ panels under £250, even if Iiyama was able to offer 30″ screens at £499, we’d still all appreciate it.

One last look at the logic we’re employing here. Here’s the question you need to ask yourselves…

In the world of modern technology, does it make sense that a product like a 30″ panel would hardly change price in 6 years ?

"Break the 30" panel 'cartel', let my readers go" says KitGuru

KitGuru says: Go Iiyama (and anyone else who’s prepared to  champion the technologists) – Get inside the crystal tower and bring back 30″ panels for the masses!

Comments below or in the KitGuru forum. Specifically, can you think of any other technology that’s hardly moved price etc in 6 years ?

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