Surveys show consumers love HDTVs, but show some confusion about HD programming

Two recent research studies have found that the demand from U.S.

Two recent research studies have found that the demand from U.S. consumers for HDTVs hasn't slackened despite the tough economy, but confusion remains about what you do with the TV once the set is purchased.

You would presume that people are seeking out HDTVs in order to step up to the superior image quality of high-definition programming, and yet the Leichtman Research Group found that an astonishing 18 percent of HDTV owners mistakenly think they're watching HD programs when they are watching standard-definition broadcasts. That confusion isn't helped by the fact that 42 percent of those surveyed weren't educated on how to obtain high-definition programming when they were buying their sets. As a result, many people buy a flat screen, take it home, plug it into their set-top box, and just think they have HD.

With their prices plummeting, people are also buying more and more 1080p HDTVs, which means they have the 1,920x1,080 resolution necessary to show Blu-ray discs in their full glory. But even though Blu-ray is now the sole high-def disc format in the marketplace, and prices for players have dropped to $200 or less, only 8 percent of consumers are planning to purchase Blu-ray players this holiday season, according to a survey by ABI Research. Perhaps people aren't aware that they can take advantage of their 1080p sets with Blu-ray, or perhaps they're satisfied with the video quality from upconverting standard definition DVD players. Either way, it appears that Blu-ray players will need to be even cheaper to really catch on with mainstream buyers—maybe $100 or under.

Whether or not consumers are aware enough to make the best use of their new sets, they still are looking to purchase HDTVs. ABI Research found that 18 percent of people were going to buy a new HDTV over the holidays, while Leicthman's survey showed that a quarter of respondents were planning to buy one in the next year.