Home electronics even more affordable

Los Angeles | Updated: Mar 28 2005, 05:30am hrs
Plasma televisions and liquid crystal display monitors are more affordable these days as prices on a range of electronic goods continue to tumble.

A study by the NPD Group in New York found a basket of 27 electronic goods and gadgets costs 19% less now than a year ago. Everything from desktop computers to digital cameras is getting cheaper as the technologies become more widespread.

Specifically, the total cost of the shopping list fell to $10,825 from $16,999 a year ago.

Compared with 2003, prices for the same items fell by 36%.

The result is rising interest in new technologies like plasma TVs, said Mike Kugel, manager of the Best Buy in Woodland Hills. Today a plasma TV sells for about $1,900; they were about $10,000 when they first hit the market.

Very few people were buying them a few years ago. Now theyre a lot more mainstream and more people are buying them, he said.

Kugel said he expects the prices of plasma TVs to continuing dropping dramatically.

That doesnt necessarily mean now is a better time to buy or that there is any value in waiting for prices to fall further, said Stephen Baker, analyst with the NPD Group.

Theres always going to be something faster, cheaper or smaller coming out. You could wait two years for the prices of plasma TVs to come down, but then there might be something better on the market, he said.

There is no right time to buy; the value of a product depends on the buyer, Baker said.

Thats the age-old question you should buy what you can afford. Theres a value beyond what you pay, Baker said.

Prices on electronic goods typically bottom out once new technologies are introduced, Kugel said. For example, after the advent of digital cameras, 35mm cameras became much more affordable. MP3 players are experiencing the biggest movement in price, Kugel said. Its come down tremendously, he said.

Candice Choi / NY TIMES