A survey by Consumer Reports found LCD and plasma TVs require less repairs during the first three years of use than rear-projection TVs. Flat panel TVs had an overall repair rate of 3% while rear-projection TVs had a repair rate of 18%.
Panasonic's 50-inch TH-50PZ700U plasma model was named Consumer Reports' best flat-panel TV ever tested. Overall, Panasonic liquid crystal display and plasma sets had a 2% average repair rate.
Among LCDs, Dell, which recently stopped selling its own brand of TVs, and Hitachi were among the less reliable brands, as were Philips plasma TVs. Aside from Panasonic, other brands with low repair rates included Sony, Samsung, Toshiba and JVC in LCDs; and Pioneer and Samsung in plasmas.
Among the tiny percentage of sets with problems, most repairs were free, presumably because they were covered by the manufacturer's standard warranty. The few respondents to CR's survey who paid for repairs spent an average of $264 on LCD sets and $395 on plasmas. "This new reliability data reinforces Consumer Reports long-standing advice that consumers skip the extended warranty when buying a flat-panel TV," CR said in a statement.
Among rear-projection TV vendors, Toshiba and RCA had the most repair-prone sets that were based on digital light processing technology. Hitachi had the worst record for repairs on sets based on LCD technology.
The report found about a quarter of the repairs involved replacing the bulb, with many failures occurring early in a set's life and covered by the standard warranty. Respondents who paid for repairs spent $300 on average. Rear-projection sets overall had an average 18% repair rate.