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US consumers confused over HDTV technology

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Old 03-01-2007, 11:46 AM   #1  
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Default US consumers confused over HDTV technology

Anyone who thinks consumers understand high-definition television should consider a recent survey by Leichtman Research Group.

It concluded that close to one-half of the 24 million households with HDTVs don't actually watch high-definition programs because they haven't obtained the necessary hardware from their cable, phone or satellite operators.

And about one half of those viewers - about six million - don't even realize they're not watching HDTV. Bruce Leichtman, the market research firm's president, figures the confusion is partly because the consumers spend so much money on the set they can't believe they're not getting what they paid for. "This is cognitive dissonance," he says.

The forward march of consumer electronics, of course, is replete with examples of technology outpacing the ability of average users to understand it. Look no further than the success of the "For Dummies" series of how-to technology books. Most consumers, surveys show, use only a small fraction of the features on their various devices.

But the history of digital TV has been particularly tortured. In addition to the usual false starts and over-promising, the technology has been hampered by political quagmires, battles at all levels of the TV industry, misleading ads and far too little consumer education.

The problem is bound to get worse as we near the February 2009 digital-transition deadline, when all broadcasters must transmit entirely in digital, rather than analog, signals. In the meantime, sales are rising as the price of flat-panel HDTV sets fall below $1,000. There were 13.6 million HDTVs sold last year, according to the Consumer Electronics Association.

The failure of so many HDTV owners to figure out what they've actually bought is bad for everyone. After years of dragging their feet, TV networks finally are investing heavily to produce shows in high definition. But these investments aren't going to pay off anytime soon if 50 percent of the HDTV owners aren't set up for HD viewing. Retailers and manufacturers complain of unacceptably high rate of returns, though they won't disclose specific figures.

Consumers get discouraged when the picture that transfixed them at the store isn't the same at home. "It's getting a Porsche and driving it at 40 down a straight highway," says Blaine Altaffer, a senior buyer for Circuit City. "You want speed and a crooked highway."

Consumer ignorance is understandable. It used to be buyers needed only to bring a new set home, plug it into a cable or satellite hookup and flop back on the couch. Now they first must choose either an HDTV set or a standard-definition digital set that has a lower price tag and inferior picture quality. (All HDTV sets are digital, but not vice versa.) Then, they must make sure they're getting high-definition service from their cable or satellite operator, which typically costs more. After that, they have to lease a high-definition set-top box and make sure it's set up right.

After all that preparation, viewers still can make the mistake of watching the wrong channel. Cable and satellite systems now carry both HDTV channels and regular channels for the same networks, such as ESPN and CBS. Some consumers get confused when they see the "broadcast in high definition" bug written across the regular channel. They think they're watching HDTV.

Adding to the complexity, device makers have been fighting over what's better, plasma or liquid crystal display screens. Even worse, if consumers want a high definition DVD player, they must choose between Blu-ray and HD-DVD formats. Naturally, discs for one don't play on the other.

In the heat of battle, information is often the first casualty. Take the current TV commercials with the "Back to the Future" theme being broadcast by DirecTV. It boasts that the satellite operator has a "future" of 150 channels and soon will have three times more high-definition capacity than cable. It neglects to say that in many smaller markets, DirecTV subscribers still won't be able to get HD signals from local ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates unless they set up an over-the-air antenna.

But there are signs of hope. A major consumer-education effort on the digital transition was set to be announced Wednesday by the largest industry trade groups representing broadcasters, cable operators, device manufacturers, networks and retailers. There will be the obligatory new Web site, then extensive research and focus groups organized to figure out consumers' needs.

Some manufacturers are ahead of the game. Panasonic last year launched a customer-service line, dubbed the "Plasma Concierge program" for flat-screen buyers. At the same time, Best Buy began giving customers discounts of up to $300 to get the right hardware and setup to watch HDTV. That reduced returns by several percentage points, says Michael Vitelli, a Best Buy senior vice president. "Employees have been telling us that customers come in and do not understand this technology," he says. "We're trying to make sure that the customer does the right thing."

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Old 03-01-2007, 12:10 PM   #2  
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I feel this issue could be remedied if anyone who spends $1000+ on a purchase takes the time to do his or her own research before investing.

Never accept a saleperson's word as absolute truth, as he or she likely has an ulterior motive.

Wikipedia, as well as dozens if not hundreds of other resources, are available free of charge on the Internet.

And for those who don't have Internet access, chances are they either know a friend or relative who has Internet access.

If the Internet is not an option, most of this information is available in bookstores. People should buy a book or browse through one.
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Old 03-01-2007, 12:42 PM   #3  
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I took a guess back in Jan that 40% of US homes would have thier HD sets hooked up by SD Connections looks like I underestimated the ignorance of the public...lol

http://www.highdefforum.com/showthre...100#post226100

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Old 03-01-2007, 01:18 PM   #4  
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This is what happens when you have underpaid salesman selling to Average Joe.

No surprise. Most pepole couldn't figure out how to set the time on their VCR let alone how to program it.
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Old 03-02-2007, 08:14 AM   #5  
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I think one very large factor is the inherent laziness and sense of entitlement a lot of folks seem to have. Way too many people just will not make any effort at all to inform themselves. There's way more than enough diverse resources out there to get a lot of information, but put 2 pages of explanation in front of folks and they just won't read it, they want the 15 second sound byte version.
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Old 03-02-2007, 11:35 AM   #6  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pappylap
I took a guess back in Jan that 40% of US homes would have thier HD sets hooked up by SD Connections looks like I underestimated the ignorance of the public...lol

http://www.highdefforum.com/showthre...100#post226100
The cable company can also be to blame on this. When I got my first HD tv in 2004 Comcast came out and hooked everything up. I had the component cables but they hooked it into the SD ports and the only reason I realized it was when certain HD shows had distortion on the top. Cable companies should have techs who know what they are doing.
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Old 03-02-2007, 08:43 PM   #7  
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Last I heard, the old SD CRT sets are outselling HDTV's by a decent margin...more proof
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Old 03-03-2007, 11:08 AM   #8  
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Hell the last time I looked around at least half the people behind the wheel shouldn't be
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Old 03-04-2007, 09:39 AM   #9  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by treker
Hell the last time I looked around at least half the people behind the wheel shouldn't be
You must live near me, the other day I saw the person you are referring to. Yakking on a cell phone with one hand, applying lipstick with the other, steering the car with her knee, and occasionally turning around to say something to a rear seat passenger. Right in heavy, busy, urban street traffic.
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Old 03-04-2007, 09:44 AM   #10  
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That was me! I was on my way to a costume party.
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Old 03-04-2007, 10:37 AM   #11  
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When I noticed a HDTV in the home and there's no supporting hardware, I put on a new hat and explain to the client(s) about what they're viewing. There were quite few clients that lacked the supporting hardware such as the correct receiver from cable providers, satellite providers or just a set-top OTA box when I realize certain televisions doesn't have the built-in HD tuner. I know it really wasn't my place or my job do tell them that but they're always glad I was there to tell them that. I just feel bad that the salespeople that sold them the HDTV's never really told them anything like that.
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Old 03-04-2007, 06:49 PM   #12  
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Default Forgot to mention something else along with my post...

Also to note is that for rural areas that are dependent on Satellite feeds, many Dish Network customers said they're pleased with getting HD via Dish Network but wish they could get local channels. I was surprised by that and asked if they had an antenna hooked up to it. They said no, the antenna was hooked up to the TV! I asked if their local channels are coming in clear enough or still get ghosting and snowy pictures and they said not as clear. I checked the back of their receiver and there's an rf antenna connector left unconnected. So, I hooked their antenna (either from rooftops or rabbit ears), scanned for local digital channels and VOILA! They looked at me and go, "Why didn't the guy that installed my HDTV do that?" What's wrong with the HD satellite installers in this area? Are they THAT ignorant? Maybe I should start a side business doing professional satellite installation for BOTH, Dish Network and Directv. Even some Directv customers weren't aware of it.
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Old 10-15-2011, 03:59 AM   #13  
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Introduction of HDTV had really revolutionized the world of Television. Now with its magnificent picture quality and sound effect you can take theater like experience. There are several companies in the market who had launched new HDTV technology in the market like Sony, Panasonic, LG, Samsung, Vizio and many other. But before going to purchase first of all identify your need i.e. what is your requirement and how must you can invest then make online review of all new HDTV technology which are launched by different company and choose one of them which fulfill you need and comes in your budget.

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