Earlier this week, we published results of a new survey by LG that revealed that consumers are a tad baffled by all of those terms out there relating to HD TV technology. The survey found that 25% of us don’t even know what HD is.
So are you one of them? With so many buzzwords, it is not hard to see why consumers are not up on the lingo - but who is to blame?
The problem really stems from a market that has, in my mind, grown up far too quickly. With so many terms for HD and different resolutions, the HD Ready badge was created very much in the same way as the Vista Ready/Capable badge for PCs was before the operating system launched in 2006.
At the time Microsoft created the badge so PC manufacturers could let people know that the computer they were buying would run the new operating system so they didn’t stall the market and not buy until the new OS hit the shops.
Seeing this "sort of work", television manufacturers created a badge of their own, slapped "HD Ready" on it and left the worry about finalising the formats to later down the line.
So "HD Ready" actually covers 720p, 1080i and 1080p which, while a lot of numbers, is not something the average consumer is going to notice on their 40-inch television. But once 1080p became the defacto for big televisions sets what badge are you going to put on then?
True HD, Real HD and Full HD of course. Confused yet?
Going back to the numbers game above, it is also confusing that Sky's HD service for example is 720p because 1080p would be too big/costly to pump through the air especially for sporting events. Then came the additional costs of 1080p over 1080i meaning some manufacturers like Toshiba even released HD DVD players that weren't Full HD (1080p) so they could save a few quid and offer a lower priced unit for those that, to be honest, wouldn't tell the difference.
So when LG, on a slow news day keen to tell the world that it makes "HD Ready", "Full HD", televisions came out with some independent research, I'm not surprised. LG is quite right in saying that education is needed - even if it just means that terms created by some clever marketing person are demystified.
But an Ofcom report into HD Ready TV sets last November suggested that it is perhaps the people selling the TVs that need educating as well, and that may be a better place to start than trying to get the whole of the British population onboard.
With HD being the home entertainment word of the moment, we are seeing a wider bandying around of these HD terms across the range, from 20-inch LCD televisions to 60-inch plasmas, from upscaling Freeview boxes to games consoles, from DVD players to Blu-ray players. More often than not, HD badges are being used to sell a product, rather than tell the customer what they are buying.
You can bet that if you head into your "a n other high street electrical store" on a Saturday morning you'll get hundreds of consumers up and down the land putting their faith in the hands of a Saturday boy that really doesn't have a clue what any of the acronyms are, just that he'll get a better bonus if he sells "that one on the second row".
So what's the answer? Well I think the industry needs to sit down and make an open standard of slogans, phrases and guidelines so that we all know what we are talking about, rather than trying to come up with their own marketing terms for what, eventually, means the same thing, or more severely makes you think you are buying something you are not.