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Pre-Loaded HD Television Sets Good or Gimmick?

Samsung and other manufacturers are seriously considering partnering up with content providers to offer HD sets at the retail level that come with some pre-loaded video and audio content. Whether it’s a short-range gimmick designed to distinguish their brand-name product from lesser known but less expensive brands or a marketing idea with some staying power is yet to be seen.

Samsung, for its part, is in early talks to team up with Universal Music and Twentieth Century Fox, among others, to provide pre-loaded content, probably via an internal flash memory drive. The content-laden HD units could have thematic tie-ins, such as marketing new “Indiana Jones” HD television sets (timed to the release of the latest sequel to be released this spring) by pre-loading the first three Jones films (and maybe in Blu-ray?) within the HD sets themselves.

While Samsung believes that pre-loading carefully chosen mass-appeal titles can prompt consumers to pay perhaps $1,200 or more for HD sets when they come with content typically worth only a fraction of that amount and readily available everywhere, others are not so sure. Paul Jackson, principal analyst at Forrester Research, thinks pre-loaded HD sets are not much more than a gimmick. “Price and screen size are the only things that really differentiate flat-screen TVs,” he told The Economic Times of London last week. “TVs are in the home for an average of eight years, so pre-loaded content will quickly become obsolete.”