Cost gap narrows between flat-panel and conventional displays

June 6, 2001

Flat-panel displays cost less to operate over the long term than do conventional cathode ray tubes, according to an industry study. But CRT market leader ViewSonic, whose monitors were specifically cited, called the study “bogus.”The study,

Flat-panel displays cost less to operate over the long term than do conventional cathode ray tubes, according to an industry study. But CRT market leader ViewSonic, whose monitors were specifically cited, called the study “bogus.”

The study, conducted by Advan International of Foster City, CA, compared Advan’s AGM15TK 15-inch and AGM17TA 17.4-inch flat-panel monitors with ViewSonic’s PF77 17-inch and P95F 19-inch CRT monitors. Based on characteristics, costs, and operating assumptions made in the analysis, Advan found that its flat-panel displays offer a distinct advantage in operating costs associated with electric power consumption and operating heat removal.

The AGM15TK showed a 71% operating cost advantage over the ViewSonic PF77 CRT, and the AGM17TA showed a 53% operating cost advantage over the ViewSonic P95F CRT monitor. The AGM15TK showed a total cost of operation of $262 for five years and $523 for 10 years compared with $917 and $1805 for the PF77. The AGM17TA showed a total cost of operation of $495 and $991 compared with $1060 and $2080 for the P95F. In both cases, the Advan systems savings offset the lower purchase price for the ViewSonic models.

“The results obviously were very favorable when you look over a two- or three-year period of time rather than just the initial cost,” said Mark Lutvak, director of sales and marketing for Advan.

The study evaluated ViewSonic models only because their data were readily available, according to Lutvak. The study did not evaluate resolution, which he said was comparable in the four displays.

“The things you get with a CRT that you don’t get with a flat panel are rather minor,” he said. “A CRT will give you a 183° viewing angle, for example, while a flat panel will give you a 160° to 170° viewing angle.”

Clearly, the study makes the case for purchasing a flat-panel display, Lutvak said.

“The facts speak for themselves,” he said.

Not so, according to ViewSonic, which called the study flawed for several reasons. The study compared the Advan monitors with ViewSonic’s high-end CRTs, for instance, which the company said naturally skews the results. Further, it incorporates cost variables such as calibration and even assigns a cost to the weight of the monitor, which Herb Berkwits, senior product manager for ViewSonic, called “bizarre.”

“They compared their LCD with our CRT, which is a totally unfair comparison,” said Berkwits. “We’re comparing apples to oranges here.”

Berkwits charged Advan with setting out to prove the superiority of its product, then fudging the numbers when it couldn’t make its case-adding in the calibration and footprint costs when it came up short in the total cost of ownership.

“They came up short and they said, ‘oops-this is not good.’ So they went in and tried to find additional costs,” Berkwits said.