The Future of Flat-Panel TVs

After it was introduced in the middle of the last century, the TV set remained basically unchanged for decades.

While there were minor design variations along the way, it wasn't until flat-panel plasma and LCD sets arrived that manufacturers finally gave us a new take on the tired old tube.

At first, sky-high prices made plasma TVs a symbol of wealth and status (no self-respecting rapper would let an MTV camera crew enter his crib unless there was one hanging on the wall), but costs for both plasma and LCD models have since come crashing down to real-world levels. And given their sleek, space-saving form factor, you'd be crazy not to consider one when shopping for a new TV.

It turns out that people are doing just that. About half the respondents to a recent Consumer Electronics Association survey said their next TV purchase will be a flat-panel display. Consumer confusion has actually helped the boom, since other surveys indicate that a lot of people believe that all HDTVs are flat-panels.

With interest in thin TVs surging, now's a good time to peer into the future and find out what technologies will be surfacing over the next few years to challenge plasma and LCD.