Best Buy Says You Don't Know What You're Doing With HD

Best Buy hired a firm to take a survey of the state of the American public’s knowledge of HDTV, and sad results are in. You don’t know what the hell is going on with your television.

Half of HDTV owners who responded to Best Buy’s survey “admit they are either not watching HD programming, or they aren’t sure if they are. Of these respondents, 35% didn’t realize they needed to subscribe to HD programming to watch HDTV.” Ok, this is sad. Just… sad.

The survey also suggested that ignorance about how to set up the HDTV was a source of embarrassment:

While 41% of HDTV owners admit to knowing little to nothing at all about HD, they would not want to admit that to friends and family; Half (52%) of HDTV owners agree it would be difficult to admit their HDTV wasn’t set up right after showing off to friends and family.

The unsurprising news is that this survey is essentially a sales pitch for Best Buy’s overpriced cables and installation packages—both of which you can skip, along with the extended warranty… if you know what you’re doing.

Obviously, many people don’t, so do us a favor. Tell a friend everything you know about HDTV.

Best Buy HD Done Right Survey Results (PDF) (Press Release)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Phildawg says:

    Yea as soon as I saw this article, I knew immediately why this survey had been done. These figures will be used within the sales pitch to sell their extremely high price, high margin installations, and unfortunately consumers have given this information to best buy willingly.

    Best Buy did a similar survey for wireless networking before they moved to the GeekSquad concept and used that evidence to help bring the concept in and was consider the baseline service that was to be initially pushed to customers. The funny part though is Best Buy was the company who went for years without encrypting their wireless register stations until a tech savy person brought it to their attention, which was promptly fixed.

  2. thepounder says:

    I’d actually agree here, at least to some extent.

    I was always the one in the house when I was growing up that set up the VCR (from the days when BetaMax was still competing), all the way to cabling up the new floor-model TV’s my dad would buy every five years or so.

    Now I do it at my house and sometimes help friends — mostly older people — who are not into the whole cabling/setup/mashing-buttons-to-make-it-work thing.

    It’s not that people are stupid, necessarily… maybe just not interested in learning something new, or even laziness on some level.

    Also, I’ve been lucky enough to always be the person who never needs instructions to set up any new electronic gadget… but other folks jsut aren’t into that sort of thing. My Dad used to say he just wants to plug it it, turn it on, and have the stinking TV work right.

    But that Half of owners thing is pretty scary. Why get the fancy-schmancy TV if you’re not going to use it for what it’s designed to do?

  3. mantari says:

    I thought that this fact had already been established by other surveys. The information isn’t anything new. And it is unfortunately quite true.

  4. uricmu says:

    Can somebody explain to me why setting up high definition would be more difficult for the average consumer? Physically, it’s just a different set of cables.

    The only thing one needs to know is that they’ll need a special cable box for that, and advertising this should be the responsibility of the cable provider, not best buy. After all, it’s the provider selling the extra dough.

    I’m not sure why the cable providers don’t send regular ads to the clients saying: “got a new HDTV? contact us for a pricing option” or something.

    Besides, if you don’t have HD cable service, then having geek squad coming to your house wouldn’t do you any good.

  5. KevinQ says:

    This doesn’t surprise me at all. People love the large, flat-screen tvs, but for the most part, “high definition” is not something that people were clamoring for. HD, in all incarnations (televisions, Blu-ray, HD-DVD, HD radio*) is a producer-driven innovation, not a consumer-driven one.

    VCRs, audio cassettes, CDs, and DVD were all consumer-driven, in that they met a felt need. “I want to take my movies/music with me,” followed by, “I want to take my movies/music with me in a more convenient format than magnetic tape.” The product fit the need.

    HD products, on the other hand, are trying to create a need. The producers realized they could make something, but now they’ve got to convince consumers to buy it. People were happy with standard resolution. People weren’t sitting around saying, “Man, I wish I could see David Caruso’s nose hairs.” This is why uptake has been so slow, and even among early adopters, the “best” features are underutilized.

    People don’t care about 1080p resolution, or whatever. They just want a 6-foot television they can hang on their wall.


    *I know that the “HD” in “HD radio” stands for hybrid-digital, and not high-definition. Nevertheless, it’s in the same boat. “Yay, more radio stations,” is not something you are hearing people say.

  6. skrom says:


    Yeah but if Best Buy or anyone else for that matter didnt advertise the HD service, then he consumers would say Best Buy was fraudulent because the customers are expecting images at home like the HD signals in store. Then they would bitch about how crappy the picture is and how the salesman never told them they would have to subscribe to a HD service or buy additional equipment. Either way, retailers cant win.

  7. skrom says:


    I disagree. I havent had one person that has come to visit me and saw a football game on my TV in HD that didnt say “damn I need to get a TV like that. I didnt realize HD was that much of a difference”

    People are only satisfied with the TVs they have now because they havent seen what the other options look like. Just like all the people who in the 40s said “I have no need for a TV its just some newfangled gadget”

  8. alice_bunnie says:

    We’ve had an HDTV for almost 2 years and we don’t watch any HD shows. We looked into pricing for HD programming on Cable and Dish and it’s ridiculous. Most of the HD programming was sports, which I don’t watch. We are also Tivo owners, which don’t record in HD, so we’d have to buy new DVRs. We also tried out an HD antennae but we didn’t feel the picture quality outweighed the loss of being able to use the DVR functions, so we just took that down.

  9. 82300sd says:

    How do you expect customers to know what they’re doing when the best buy associates don’t know what they are doing? I’ve gone to Best Buy and Circuit City to see that their Blu-Ray player isn’t even connected by HDMI. If you’re trying to sell HD, make sure you’re displaying HD correctly

  10. mantari says:

    @uricmu: “Can somebody explain to me why setting up high definition would be more difficult for the average consumer? Physically, it’s just a different set of cables.”

    Generally, when I see people incorrectly set up a new HDTV it goes something like this:

    They have their new HDTV set up in their living room, hooked up to standard cable with a digital converter box. They hit the [widescreen] button to stretch a standard TV signal to be widescreen. That’s about the extent of a workout that their new HDTV gets. They think they’re watching HDTV. I’m serious! Especially the older generations.

    They don’t know the specifics like if their TV has a QAM tuner to be able to receive HDTV signals over the cable. Or if their TV needs a cablecard and they can ditch the converter. Or if their TV isn’t QAM capable at all, and they can only receive HDTV signals via ATSC. Or if their TV is incapable of even that, and they have to feed in HDTV signals via component or HDMI or some other means.

    Perhaps they have a DVR that they’re attached to. They might not know that their standard definition DVR is totally robbing them of any potential to see HDTV programming at all.

    HDTV isn’t plug and play like the old standard definition sets. You’ve got to understand the underlying hardware, and your choices, or you’ll make the wrong decisions. (That, or they need to pay someone to set up their TV for them. Which would seem excessive to most people.)

    And then there are the really STRANGE things you run into. Like my HDTV can receive HDTV over Firewire. (Really! It has firewire inputs. I’ve even fed it HDTV recordings from my PC.) You could also watch TV on a Sony memory stick. But your Sony memory stick can’t have a high definition recording on it, because it can’t provide the bandwidth necessary to stream HDTV video.

    HDTV is a bizarre world that just isn’t as simple as standard definition TV used to be.

  11. Twitch says:

    Perhaps if stores like BB actually educated the buyers, and not just sell them things they don’t know how to use, things would be better.

    One DISADVANTAGE to having non-commissioned sales people is that they are not vested in the sale. They don’t talk to you to find our your needs nor do they really care if you know what you’re getting. If the set comes back, no skin off their nose. Just sell more.

    When I was a salesman for CC, we had to educate the customers ourselves, or they’d bring it back and our nice commission would go out the window.

  12. davere says:

    I thought about buying an HDTV one of these days, but I really don’t want to give my cable company any more money just to receive a handful of HD channels, so I probably won’t bother upgrading until I must.

  13. tdogg241 says:

    @KevinQ: I recently bought an HDTV specifically for HD content. I’ll likely buy an HD-DVD or Blu-ray player somewhere down the line (or, if an affordable one ever comes out, a hybrid player).

    @Twitch: People aren’t going to want to be “educated” by some kid working at Best Buy anymore than Best Buy will want to train those kids. It’s easier for them to just sell things we don’t need since people are so unwilling to read instruction manuals.

    At any rate, whenever I go over to a friend’s house and they don’t have their HD setup properly, I make sure and tell them. If there’s time, I’ll even fix it for them, because that’s what friends do.

  14. tdogg241 says:

    @davere: Unless you’re looking for HBO or Showtime in HD, there really aren’t that many cable channels in HD right now (at least not in my area). But if you’re looking for just local broadcast channels (and don’t live in the middle of nowhere), I HIGHLY recommend an HD antenna. I bought one for $20 and cancelled my cable a few months ago. Couldn’t be happier.

  15. create says:

    ROFL, i coulda saved someone a whole lot of money on that reasearch, i work in a call center for time warner cable… and the general public doesn’t know their ass from their elbow when it comes to HD

  16. Alvis says:

    UM – except that you DON’T have to subscribe to ANYTHING to receive most of the popular HD channels (I doubt the average family watches more ESPN, HBO, or Discovery Channel than they do ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, and CW). And frankly, any for-pay version of these channels is going to have more compression and, as a consequence, a worse picture quality on your shiny, new, HDTV, than the free-to-air versions do.

  17. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    I see numerous HDTV’s set up in restaurants incorrectly.
    They almost always have the aspect ratio wrong, so that the picture is either squeezed & everyone looks like a stick figure or everyone is squashed & looks really fat.

  18. zentec says:

    Attention HD Shoppers!

    You don’t need cable or satellite to get HD programming. Sure, it might be more convenient, but you don’t need it. As it stands right now, there’s few HD channels aside from the locals. Sure, they’re suppose to add more, but right now, it’s a pitiful amount for which you’ll pay a premium. The hottest most intensely high-def channel is swirling above your head right now and it’s free (well, as free as your conscience lets it be free). It’s PBS.

    The video on cable of your local HD broadcasts is likely to suck as compared to over the air. The cable companies simply take the signal off the air, transcode it and send it onto you. A few do stupid things like break it out of the MPEG domain, and then re-encode it before transmission. Cable systems in larger markets will drop fiber into the TV station to get the HD feed, but they still usually step on the video quality pretty hard. If you want the BEST HD picture, you’re going to need to snag it off the air.

    The good news is that while HD TV isn’t so tolerant of multipath that would cause those annoying ghosts on analog TV, most HD transmitters are kicking out some serious power, nearly all of them on UHF. So while it may take some adjustment, it’s a safe bet that you can probably come up with a way to get the signal over the air without planting a tower in your backyard.

    I’m not surprised that the public is confused. We’re talking a population that for years would stick black electrical tape over the clock on the VCR so they wouldn’t be taunted with a flashing “12:00”. HD is complex, expensive and full of options that make companies like Best Buy salivate. They like under-educated consumers who don’t research their purchases. Best Buy plays on these weaknesses with their little surveys and empathetic press releases.

    It’s as if the said “hey, we know you’re uninformed, come in and let us fleece you; we’ll be gentle”.

    Research it, then buy.

    (Yes, I work in TV)

  19. SaraAB87 says:

    This is like most things though. There are so many people that have no clue what their new video game system can do other than play games. They think they just stick the game in and then play it, and yes these are the same people that are playing the Xbox360 or PS3 on a 19 inch CRT TV in their bedroom. Most parents just hand the system to their kids, hand them the games and don’t even bother reading into half of the things it does. I have seen people marvel at the fact that the Xbox 360 can go online, and gasp, do things other than just play a game. I have never seen a proper video game setup in someone’s house, and even I know that its pretty worthless to buy an Xbox360 or a PS3 unless you plan on hooking them up to an HDTV. Worse yet is hooking these systems up to an HDTV with standard cables, eek! Sure they want the big screen HDTV and the new video game console so they can show off to their friends but they don’t even know how to use it or what it actually does.

  20. karmaghost says:

    I think if people knew how much trouble it was to get an HD signal, you would see even fewer people buying HD sets than are currently doing so. This survey doesn’t reveal anything we didn’t already know from other similar surveys from other firms/companies. Knowledge of HD TVs and programming by the general public is very low; even I, at the introduction of HD sets, didn’t realize all the requirements and all of the terms that were used in the industry.

    I don’t blame them, either. For as long as I can remember, any technology that has come out regarding televisions (cable, satellite, DVD, digital cable boxes, DVRs, etc.) have required nothing more than plugging the required device into the back of your set and turning everything on. So in that line of thinking, why shouldn’t an HD TV require nothing more than plugging a cable into the back of the set and tuning into your favorite station?

    @KevinQ; I also disagree. Why wouldn’t people want to have images, regardless of where they come from, be as crisp and clear as possible. In your line of thinking, people wanted to go from cassettes to CDs, but don’t want to go from SD to HD? I’m not sure why, it’s not like “compact disks” were actually more compact than cassettes (thinner, but not more compact). The quality was better, but not SD vs. HD better. People always want something that’s better, that’s why it’s called “better.”

  21. I was all excited because I bought an HDMI cable with my new HD television…except stupid Cablevision couldn’t give me a cable box with the HDMI hookup because they were on eight-month backorder! Yeah, right, Cablevision. Mmm hmm.

  22. scootinger says:

    “Of these respondents, 35% didn’t realize they needed to subscribe to HD programming to watch HDTV.”

    What a lie. That should be changed to “65% didn’t realize they don’t need to subscribe to HD programming to watch HDTV.” Obviously you can get the networks over the air for free, and a lot of the time you can get other channels via clear QAM on cable without any extra subscription.

  23. mconfoy says:

    @KevinQ: Coming from someone that does not watch football it seems. I am clamoring. I want real HD movies too.

  24. Alvis says:

    @karmaghost: Except the huge draw for CDs over tapes, of DVDs over VHS, isn’t just quality, it’s primarily random access. The difference between HDTV and SDTV is simply quality, which is why SVHS failed to eplace VHS.

  25. mconfoy says:

    @alice_bunnie: My wife feels the same way. That is why I don’t let her make these type of decisions.

  26. philbert says:

    Trouble getting an HD signal? Duh – that’s what satelllite service is all about. Mine looks great and I didn’t need the diffuses from Best Buy or Circuit city to set it up. Dish Tv took care of all of that for me. Now all I have to do is tell the numbers to go home.

    HDTV is great and simple to add and I hardly look at anything that is not HiDef now.

  27. EtherealStrife says:

    While showtime, hbo, and espn have some gorgeous hd broadcasts, the bulk of hd content is available without a subscription. Pick up an antenna. Hook it up. Watch hd broadcasts. Wipe drool from chin. Spend a night on the town with the money you save.
    After watching hd for so many years it’s painful on the eyes to see material from a non-hd source. Especially for Scifi, action, and sports. If you shop around you can get a 42in 1080p lcd tv for 1000-1200. For the price of a decent computer you’re set for years of hd entertainment. Heck, Black Friday will probably have em sub-1k.

    There’s no reason to settle for sdtv.

  28. uricmu says:

    @skrom: I disagree. What if they are playing Halo 3 at the store on their high-def TVs, or showing HBO? Does that mean that I’ll go home and expect an XBOX or upgraded cable ?

    A TV is a TV. An HDTV set is an HDTV set. If you don’t ask anything about it or learn a little or ask your cable provider if they even have HDTV in your area, it’s your problem. Best buy sold you a TV capable of doing HDTV out of the box.

    I still think it comes down to the cable companies to make it clear to consumers that they’re not actually getting HD. And for the life of me I can’t figure out why they’re not, it encourages the last few people to move from analog to digital, it’s an opportunity to push a DVR, and it’s an opportunity to show channels.

    And as an aside: I bought my HDTV more than four years ago, at best buy (I just moved into the country). At the time, they had no way of demoing to me what it was good for. All they could say was that it will be good in the future, and that the progressive scan DVDs will look better. There were no next gen devices or any local HDTV providers in my metro area. Being computer savvy, I figured that HDTV equals more resolution and sooner or later someone will use it.

  29. suburbancowboy says:

    I own a high end a/v store. We do installations. I can’t tell you how many people have HDTVs, and they aren’t watching them in HD. We have to show them how to go to the right input, and when they see the difference, they can’t believe they thought they were watching HD before.

  30. Anonymously says:

    HDTV is not a user-friendly product. You have to worry about too many things: resolution settings on different devices, upscaling, downscaling, 720i / 720p / 1080i / 1080p, HDMI, HD discs, tivos, and cable channels. It’s just a big cluster and has a long way to go before it “just works”.

  31. tapehands says:

    It’s baffling how much people don’t know about these machines, yet they insist on spending more on one than on a good computer system.

    For instance, at the place I work, I had to walk a customer through getting an HD signal on their brand-spanking new 1080p HDTV. This customer had (at the time) a $2,600 TV…connected directly to the coax outlet on the wall, and wondering why he wasn’t getting an HD picture.

    The real kicker is that he had his HD cable box laying right next to the TV.

  32. endless says:

    Between standards wars, ever changing technology and DRM its an extremely fast paced and confusing market. The survey is probably accurate.

    Now most of their ignorance could probably be solved by around 3-5 hours of reading on the internet. But most people probably do not want to do that…. shame

  33. LTS! says:

    Jesus.. reading this thread tells me that even people who think they know anything about HDTV don’t know anything about HDTV. They just hopped in, shot their load (mighty sad) and sauntered back into the ether.

    First, there is nothing hard about getting HDTV, you call your preferred service provider, tell them you want HDTV and, if you have service contracts with them they come out and hook it up. Wow, tough. If you don’t, and you don’t understand what the i in 1080i means, you need a service contract or friends.

    Second, people don’t want to pay a premium for HDTV. I suppose with satellite that’s true, and it’s an interesting market position. With DishNetwork you pay $20/month for HD programming, which, in Rochester, puts the cost at about the same that Time Warner Cable charges for their digital service, which if have an HDTV and STB, includes HD stations.

    Third, having QAM doesn’t guarantee anything. There are stations in the Rochester market that you cannot get with QAM from Time Warner Cable, and you still need SOME cable service in the first place. Satellite doesn’t even apply here.

    Fourth, OTA PBS, in Rochester, sucks. Why? Because there are subchannels being broadcast at the same time. So, if you have the optimal 18Mbps transmission rate of HD and you fraction the full pipe to serve up other channels you get a lower quality picture. Additionally, OTA is very susceptible to atmospheric interference, this much should be obvious. If you live in an area where signal don’t saturate you’ll actually need to point the antenna, and you think this is easier than pressing numbers on a remote?

    Fifth, Best Buy, Circuit City, and every other business is in business to sell their products to consumers. This is how business works. Even if Best Buy told you that the $90 Monster cable and the $20 Brand X cable were essentially the same because in a digital world they are passing 1’s and 0’s, the Brand X cable probably still has a 40-60% margin on it.

    Sixth, the illusion that there aren’t many HD channels out there. Compare the list against what you watch.. let me know how it pans out. Don’t know where to find a list then perhaps you should not be commenting on how many HD channels there are. If you think your provider has a good list, think again. Oh, and sorry if you really wanted the Eternal Word Television Network in HD, it’s not on the list… or is it? Don’t use Wikipedia, that’s my first suggestion, it’s just wrong.

    Finally, this headline is misleading. It makes it sound as though Best Buy is insulting the American public when in fact the American public is merely being shown just how stupid they are. I believe the study, I’ve explained HD to people so many times it would make your head spin and they still don’t get it. It’s not their fault, you can’t flip the switch in their brain, they just will never understand it.

  34. mathew says:

    I have an HDTV. I use it for DVDs, upscaled to 720p. I occasionally watch PBS in HD. 99% of the TV I watch, though, I watch in regular definition.

    I’ve seen HD. I know what it’s like. But it isn’t worth the extra cash the satellite company wants for the HD channels, not when I’m already paying for dozens of news and sports channels I don’t want.

    I’m not interested in HD-DVD or Blu-ray because I’m waiting to see who wins the battle, and waiting for region-free players to be available.

  35. mantari says:

    @LTS!: Summary of your post is “there is an exception to every rule in HDTV land.” Are you sure you got it right when you said there is nothing hard about getting HDTV?

  36. sycophant says:

    To be fair, as someone who MAKES HD television – it’s not at all simple. There are SO many variants of ‘HD’ in play that it’s not at all simple.

    From a production perspective HD is a nightmare. From a consumer perspective, it’s just a big confusing mess of numbers and big flat screens.

    Confusing the issue and bordering of false advertising, in my opinion, is the large number of ‘HD Ready’ televisions which actually operate is totally non-standard resolutions (1366×768 and 852×480). Both offer less resolution than HD (requiring downscaling in realtime) and in my PAL part of the world, one is actually lower resolution than PAL standard definition TV, meaning that it also has to be downscaled.

    And then there HDMI or Analogue Component HD – no more simple yellow plug for video.

    It IS confusing, and I do it for a living.

  37. Alvis says:

    Maybe it’s just me being an holier-than-thou douche, but if I go into a restaurant or bar where they have giant 16:9 screens playing 4:3 content stretched such that everyone looks like Family Guy’s Stewie, I just turn around and walk out. If the owner hasn’t noticed how shitty it looks, the employees haven’t brought it up, and the other customers don’t seem to notice, well, better taking business elsewhere, lest that sort of idiocy be encouraged.


  38. jaredgood1 says:

    And let’s not even get into the whole resolution debacle: it’s “True HD” 1080p on this fabulous 37 inch set (never mind that 720p and 1080p are virtually indistinguishable on a screen under 50 inches).

    /Super happy with my 37 inch 720p native set, free HD over the air and my PS3 and computer both running into it via HDMI.

  39. Alvis says:

    @sycophant: “It IS confusing, and I do it for a living.”

    Is it? The manuals clearly explain what input takes what kind of signal, and anyone with the kind of money to throw at a $1000 TV has probably already made the investment in a computer, so they have access to the dozens and dozens of websites CLEARLY explaining what’s what. I don’t think it’s an issue of “confusion” per se, but that Joe TV is used to buying a set, plugging in one cable, and then it works. They’re not getting confused by signal and connector differences; they’re simply not even taking the time to research them.

  40. Alvis says:

    @jaredgood1: Both 720p and even 1080i are technically “true” HD. 480p – I’ve heard people go either way, but the others are cut-and-dry.

    Does ANYONE actually broadcast in 1080p in the US?

  41. EvilSquirrel says:

    I really don’t think it is that complicated if you spend an hour or so reading one of the many consumer guides on websites such as CNET. They tell you everything you need to know about what the various acronyms mean, what accessories you need to buy, and how to watch channels in HD after you bring your new television home. They will even tell you how to give a company money so you can receive even more HD channels.

    Of course many people still believe that the guy working at the electronics store processes some magical knowledge about the products that only a high school dropout could process. I guess you deserve to get fleeced if you do not have the time to figure out what you need before you make such a large purchase.

  42. Justin42 says:

    Then you can always do the totally opposite thing and get a $150ish ATSC/QAM tuner box and hook it up to your SDTV, and use the TV you already have. Sure it’s absolutely not true HDTV but the quality is a HUGE step up over DirecTV or SD cable.

    I just helped my dad get a box set up and used a little indoor antenna. He liked it so much that he ran out and bought a nice outdoor antenna and mounted it back on the roof (About 15 years after the old antenna came down due to not needing it anymore) to help with some of the weaker stations. He’s happy as a clam, can keep using his old TV til it dies, and is seriously debating saving a ton of money cancelling the DirecTV service.

    Like I said, I am fully aware this isn’t really HDTV but the picture looks great. I wonder if as the tuner-converter boxes become more prevalent leading up to the 2009 switchover if people are going to realise that you don’t NEED an HDTV to get HD programming and a nice step up in quality. (granted, once we hit good quality <$500 HDTVs the price difference won’t be great, but for people with no desire to buy a new TV I think the boxes are great.)

  43. theycallmetak says:

    You know what? I’m tired of being the default tech support for friends and family just because they can’t be bothered to rtfm and because I can’t stand to see anyone pay the geek squad. I’m an enabler and I’m working on it. As far as the whole consumer driven vs. content producer driven aspect of it, I was one of the consumers clamoring for it when I attended a trade show in LA and saw a film actually look like film on a small HD monitor.

    I say let ’em keep selling all that wonderful tech to blissfully unaware consumers as the resources exist to figure out the whys and hows of it all. When I worked as an installer it was fine because people paid me so they wouldn’t have to know how things worked.

    The average person with average disposable income buying things they don’t need is great for me. They either learn how to use it or they keep suffering with sub standard sound quality, picture quality, etc. In the meantime they’ll be subsidizing my tech fix.

  44. QuarterlyProphet says:

    My father owns an HDTV, and it spends the vast majority of it’s time stretching out standard signals to widescreen, although he is getting better at going to HD channels and switching when football comes on.

  45. Jerim says:


    It really isn’t going to help sales wise. Even if you tell a customer that most people don’t know what they are doing, the customers who do won’t go “Oh dear, I must not know what I am doing.” The only way it will help, is if the customer secretly doesn’t know what he is doing. The survey results may make that person feel less shy about asking for help.

  46. Asvetic says:

    @alice_bunnie: 2 years ago, gees that television must have cost a fortune. Plus, you don’t take advantage of any of it’s HD features. That was a waste of money.

  47. Obviously, many people don’t, so do us a favor. Tell a friend everything you know about HDTV.

    Slight problem: None of them want to hear it.

  48. jeff303 says:
  49. quagmire0 says:

    It’s very much akin to the people that buy the newest laptop and insist on the resolution being set to 800×600 :D

  50. babaki says:

    some of you guys ate touting HD as some complicated bit of new fangled technology. its really not that hard. hdtv & get HD box from cable company
    2.connect with HDMI or component cable

    not that hard. really.

  51. Android8675 says:

    Or just get a job at BBY and get the cables/installation at cost.

    My parents love their 27″, just know it looks much better than their other tv, and they know that channels 700-750 are in HD, “sometimes” My dad hates it when programming isn’t zoomed out to fill the screen though. I wish cable could make a box that automatically fills the screen no matter what’s broadcast.

    @BABAKI: What’ happened to #4?

  52. zentec says:


    Whether or not a station has subchannels does not necessarily directly correlate into picture quality. If the station employs modern variable bitrate encoding, then the aggregate bandwidth is actively managed and the most given to the channel that requires it at that instant. Even smarter techniques can change the dynamics of the encoding to avoid sending any bandwidth intensive I-frames on subchannels when the bandwidth demands are the highest. And it doesn’t matter if it’s OTA or not, the cable and satellite systems take it 19.39 if they don’t grab it off the air.

    Furthermore, 8VSB has superior performance in dealing with impulse/atmospheric noise. 8VSB uses Reed-Solomon encoding to repair damaged packets and convolutional encoding that interleaves data that keeps noise from destroying the data. What 8VSB sucks at is dealing with multipath, which makes it a horrible distribution method for mobile users. TV stations have engineered ways to cut back on one of the polarizations of the signal for HD and insert other modulation schemes that work better with multipath, like COFDM, for mobile users.

  53. JoeInternet says:

    This shouldn’t come as a surprise. How is it any different than the automobile industry? How many SUV owners actually use their behemoths for hauling boats and trampling underbrush in the forest? I imagine 99% of the time, it’s to take that single driver to and from work on pavement.

  54. TheSeeker says:

    One does not need cable or satellite to watch HD. With an indoor or outdoor antenna, depending on your locality, in the HD tuner, you will be able to watch any over the air HD programming that is available on the station you are watching. Also with HD TV’s using the HD (digital) tuner, there are second and sometimes third stations being broadcast under the channel designation. For example channel “3” will have their digital/high definition broadcast on channel “3.1” and standard def (SD) “simulcast” on “3.2” or it might be a 24 hour weather channels on “3.2”.

    In my area the Fox affiliate has their broadcast on the “.1” and the 24 hour music video channel “The Tube” on their “.2” channel.

    Also the PBS station has 3 digital channels going.

    There is a lot of TV available with digital TV. You may not need cable.

  55. ViperBorg says:

    HDTV for Dummies isn’t out yet, I guess.

  56. gafpromise says:

    Just reading the comments I’d have to say the study bears out. Conflicting posts, confusing information. I personally have never been an early adopter and I know NOTHING about HD TV, I get confused about the difference between HD and digital, and yeah it seems like there is a lot of conflicting information out there.

    Hey consumerist! for those of us who aren’t techno geeks, I’d love to see an article that just gives the basic rundown on HDTV, how to purchase it, what to avoid, etc.

  57. ascott9 says:

    I’m part of the Financial Management Association here at the University of Tennessee and we just had a speaker come to the FMA meeting. His name was Charles Anderson and his family started Anderson Holdings(they run the online mp3 download site for walmart and own books-a-million and a bunch of other entities including the Firework brand ACME). Well he said that they just signed a deal with walmart to put a seperate employee of Anderson Holdings in every walmart that will help in the electronics department explaining to people how it all works. They’ve also signed a deal with all the large cable companies to be able to automatically upgrade the cable of the person purchasing the HDTV to a digital cable service. They will also be offering services to bring all the equipment out to your house and install it. This marks the first time walmart has allowed a third party into there stores. At least from what I remember it is.

  58. djreedps says:

    This survey is what is known in poltics as a “push poll”. While appearing to merely get statistics on public knowledge or ignorance on HDTV, Best Buy is pushing them on further Best Buy products and services.

    “Of these respondents, 35% didn’t realize they needed to subscribe to HD programming to watch HDTV.”

    I didn’t realize I needed to subscribe to HD programming to watch HDTV either. I guess that is why I watch HDTV using a free service. Maybe you haven’t yet heard of this service. It is called over-the-air from my local TV stations. I did have to buy a TV antenna for a one-time fee, though. But the setup of plugging the antenna cable into my HDTV wasn’t hard at all, so I didn’t need Best Buy to do that.

  59. mconfoy says:

    @jaredgood1: Not with sports they are not indistinguishable when it comes to fast movements. But then tube TV’s have been the superior picture for this and in general until recently with the newer HDTVs.

  60. mconfoy says:

    @Alvis: Yes, typically PBS does and Channel 9, WUSA in DC does.

  61. Alvis says:

    @mconfoy: Thanks; I used to live in Baltimore and had set up this antenna ( [] ) that got me a good deal of the DC stations as well. I just defaulted to the Baltimore offerings, but now you make me wish I had checked out the DC ones as well.

  62. karmaghost says:

    @Alvis: I realize this, but I was trying to play devil’s advocate and it didn’t really come off properly. People are going to want new technology that has a significant impact on quality (be it the quality of the media or the experience itself) and/or ease of use. This has always been the case. To suggest otherwise, as KevinQ did, is naïve in my opinion.