Confused Consumers: Why Isn’t My HDTV Picture Clear?

Consumer electronics retailers are doing a crappy job of explaining HDTV, so much so that people sometimes return the sets as defective.

“Perplexed TV purchasers often will hook up an HDTV incorrectly, then return it to a store as defective, says Rich Dinsmore, an executive with RCA Television’s parent company, TCL-Thomson Electronics told USA Today.

What’s the big mystery? Customers are not being informed that while HDTVs are “higher definition” and display a much clearer picture than a standard television, to actually take advantage of the technology consumers need access to HD programming.
Standard programming often looks worse on an HD set. The picture can be stretched or pixelated. Ugh.

USA Today says the problem is widespread: “One in four HDTV owners is still watching regular programming and doesn’t know it, says Bruce Leichtman, head of the Leichtman Research Group.”

Some quick info for HD n00bs:

• “digital cable” does not mean “HD.” Digital means the type of signal, not the quality.

• New HD owners can call Panasonic’s “Plasma Concierge” for answers to their questions. Callers do not need to be Panasonic owners to take advantage of the service. Call: 888-777-7134

• You may need to upgrade your satellite dish or cable box. If you’d like to use an antenna, you can learn more at


TV companies aim to demystify HDTV [USA Today]