Consumers confused about TV technology — report

18 May 2006

As local stockists report that flat-screen TV sales are taking off, a survey from the US has found that many consumers there are confused about exactly what kind of display they want.

According to Forrester Research, some buyers expressed interest in a flat-screen as opposed to the traditional cathode ray tube model (38pc of buyers versus 9pc) but 50pc said they didn’t know which to choose. There was more agreement on screen size, which for TVs is measured diagonally. Less than 7pc wanted a 27-inch TV or smaller; 36pc said they preferred a 27-40-inch display and 23pc said their next TV would be 40-inch or larger.

Quality, durability and low cost were the most important factors when weighing up a purchase, Forrester found. When shopping for a new TV, US consumers put price as the most important consideration, with brand seen as much less important. Nearly 40pc of those polled said that cost was most important to them when it comes to purchasing a new TV set, more than the number who listed screen size, high-definition features, thinness or a particular display technology.

Anecdotally, the level of consumer awareness on this side of the water appears to be slightly higher. Since March, the Dixons and Currys chain of electrical stores has reported that more than 70pc of sales of LCD TVs and more than 60pc of sales of plasma TVs are equipped with high-definition TV technology.

In the US, less than one in 10 (9pc) consumers said their next TV would have plasma display technology — only slightly more than those who preferred LCD (6pc). Forrester analyst Ted Schadler said that manufacturers that have tended to focus on either plasma or LCD were provoking a non-existent format war. “There really isn’t a battle,” he said. “Instead of battling, manufacturers should unite around HDTV education and focus their individual marketing on its benefits and brand promotion.”

Panasonic, which manufactures both types of display, said that the buyer’s decision should comes down to the size of TV. Michael O’Shea of Panasonic Ireland commented recently: “Up to 32-inch, LCD is pretty much the only game in town in terms of flat-panel monitors. It’s above that that you start to get more debate as to which is the best way to go. When choosing a TV of 37-inch or 40-inch or more, plasma is the best choice. It gives you a better picture, much higher contrast and the viewing angle is better. Response time is particularly important for fast-moving images, sport in particular. The bigger you go, the greater the difference becomes. I haven’t seen a 50-inch LCD yet that I would define as remotely watchable.”

By Gordon Smith