According to a new survey, Britons could be spending almost £300m buying new TVs in the January sales - not realising they may soon be obsolete.

New research from cable company Telewest who is trialling a HDTV service suggests many bargain hunters may be snapping up discounted TV sets blindly believing they are equipped to receive ultra-sharp high definition pictures and sound.

In the survey, which surveyed 2004 UK adults over the age of 18 from 6-9 January, 2006, almost half (44%) of Brits do not know what HDTV means.

Despite three-quarters claiming their new TV should last for at least 6 years, consumers are still seduced by the best price (71%) or the size of the screen (66%). Almost a third (30%) admitted to finding the range in television choice confusing and needing to seek advice from family, friends or salespeople (32%) before buying.

Philip Snalune, director of product management and marketing at Telewest, said: "Only 27% of the shoppers we interviewed were concerned whether sets were HD-ready, with their main priority being a bargain".

The company has listed four top tips to making sure you buy the right television.

1. Is the new set HD-ready? Look out for the HD Ready logo, which all HDTV products should have on them.
2. Make sure the new set has HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) connectivity. This gives you a direct transmission free of the disruptions or noises experienced with analogue signal broadcasts.
3. Check that related technology - for example the set-top box you use to receive your digital TV services - is HD-compatible, such as Telewest's new personal video recorder (PVR), TVDrive.
4. If in any doubt, always check with your retailer before you buy.

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