Internet browsing capability to influence future HDTV buying decisions

The ability to access the Internet from the comfort of the living room in parallel or in addition to watching regular TV programming is surfacing as a factor that will influence the purchasing decisions of tech-savvy consumers who anticipate buying a TV within the next couple of years, according to new research.

The research, conducted by Strategy Analytics for Internet TV software firm Oregan Networks and application-specific IC system supplier Micronas, measured the importance of Internet and home media browsing as U.S. consumers make up their minds about purchasing HDTVs.

The study placed emphasis on key features and the difference between existing PC-based Internet usage and emerging TV-based usage scenarios. In addition, the study addressed the social and behavioral aspects of interacting with network-connected TVs.

Seventy-one percent of respondents said they would prefer a default media browser to be installed, although they would like the option to be able to change it. Additionally, if their next TV did not come with a preinstalled media browser, 29 percent said they “definitely would” download one. Another 45 percent said they would be likely to download one.

Sixty-nine percent said they would pay something to download a digital media browser onto their next television, if this was supported. Eighty-seven percent would select a TV with a media browser because it would offer them more entertainment choices.

One key finding deals with the differentiation between what respondents said they saw as desirable use cases and appropriate Web sites for-TV based Internet. User-managed video and multimedia sites, including YouTube and Hulu, delivered in a full-screen mode, as well as pay-per-view Hollywood blockbuster services, such as Netflix and CinemaNow, are perceived as adding the most value to the regular TV feature set.

A total of 85 percent agreed that a TV media browser would offer a “better audiovisual experience for watching Web video” compared to a PC, while the same proportion agreed that it would provide a “more customized and personalized entertainment experience”.

For all user segments, the ability to access VOD services without the need for a PC or any other equipment was considered to be the most valuable feature of a TV media browser.

The second most valuable feature was considered to be the ability to search the home network for media and content stored on other devices. Ability to access user-generated content such as YouTube videos was ranked third on average overall.

The research revealed a clear trend for a gradual but steady uptake of TV Internet usage with the mass-market inflection point occurring over the next three to five years.

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