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The president of Samsung Electronics has said that the prices of 52-inch LCD TV panels will fall below $1,200 this year.

The prediction was included in remarks made to local media by Lee Sang-wan as the company brought a new 52-inch LCD production facility online well ahead of schedule. The new plant will help cut production costs of large flat screen TVs.

Lee did not predict how much cheaper 52-inch LCD TVs would become with the new low-cost panels. Current 52-inch LCD TV prices are well over $5,000, and most cost more than $6,000 in Australia.

The LCD panel is by far the most expensive component of a flat-screen LCD TV, accounting for as much as 90 per cent of the price of cheaper TVs.

Samsung’s new eighth-generation production line in South Korea will process 2,000 glass panels this month starting from 25 June, Korea IT News reported.

Assuming that no problems are detected, production will be ramped up to at least 10,000 panels in July.

A single glass panel from the eighth-generation plant is cut into six 52in LCD TV panels. The production process is twice as rapid as older so-called seventh-generation plants, according to local media reports.

Samsung is planning a second eighth-generation line at the same facility, with construction expected to start as early as the end of 2007.

While the 52-inch screens are expected to become mainstream products in the near future, Samsung is capable of cutting the large glass panels from the new line into much bigger screens. The company recently demonstrated a 70-inch screen.

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