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Survey: HD Confusion to Linger into Holiday Season

As big-box retailer Best Buy gears up for what it hopes will be a big holiday season for consumer electronics, including all things HD, the early news is not good: According to the store chain’s own survey released Sept. 25 and reported by, nearly 90 percent of American consumers continue to misunderstand the fundamentals of HDTV.

The dark news comes despite the fact that HD technology has been in the North American marketplace for several years.

About half of those surveyed (48 percent) also had no idea about the extra costs of HD after the purchase of the DTV set itself—especially when it came to sometimes requiring a professional set-up, extra cables and other connections, added cable TV or DBS fees, and taking advantage of optimum benefits (and costs) of 5.1 surround sound systems.

Best Buy, one of the biggest-volume CE retailers in the United States, is counting on brisk sales of flat-panel HD sets to represent a significant segment of its all-important fourth-quarter sales starting in a few weeks, according to published reports.

At the same time, Best Buy and other retailers are fighting a PR problem that is left over from last year: A lot of flat-panel sets were returned after the 2006 holidays by a small army of frustrated new owners who were not aware that HD is not simply a plug-and-play technology, and that a lot of TV shows today (namely sports) are still not in HD.

“You won’t believe the number of times that someone will come into a Best Buy and say ‘I just want a flat TV,’” Best Buy executive Mike Mohan told CNN.

The Best Buy survey polled just over 1,000 consumers nationwide in early August. More than 890 of those polled said they lacked a full understanding of what HDTV entails.