HDTV Sales Potential Headache for Consumers

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Imagine, this Saturday, you’re at BestBuy and make a snap decision that you want to watch the Bears play the Colts on a massive, high-definition TV. You buy the TV, but the earliest it can be delivered is an hour before kickoff. “No matter,” you think. “It’s simply a matter of hooking it up once it arrives.”


Cut to an hour after kickoff on Super Bowl Sunday. The TV’s been delivered, but you’re still sitting on the floor behind it, flipping through owner’s manuals and swimming through a mass of DVR, VCR, DVD and HDTV coaxial cables, power cords and connector wires, not to mention trying to hook all this into your surround-sound system and PC. Meanwhile, your friends and family went to a bar to watch the game.


It’s a scenario likely to play out in households all over the nation this month, as HDTV sales see a bump in the run-up to the Super Bowl. According to the second-annual “Inside the Mind of the HD Sports Fan” survey conducted by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the Sports Video Group (SVG), 50 percent of sports fans purchased an HDTV for the purpose of watching a specific sporting event. The top sporting events driving HDTV purchases was the Super Bowl, which was also selected as the favorite event sports fans watch in HD.


“This time of year, both with the holidays (having just passed) and a convergence of a lot of big sporting activities, it prods a lot of people to make the decision to upgrade their televisions,” said Steven Ostrowski, director of corporate communications for the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA).


Ostrowski outlined the potential headaches that can follow that decision. First there’s getting the TV set up in your home, either in an entertainment center or mounted on the wall. Considering the price of an HDTV, which can range from $1,200 to several thousand more than that, Ostrowski said it pays to make sure it’s set up securely.


“You don’t want to hang it on the wall and have it fall off the first time a truck rumbles by on the street,” he said.


After getting the TV placed, there’s the issue of installation.


“Once you get it home, you’ve already got a regular television, and maybe you’ve got a VCR, TiVo or a DVR and a DVD,” Ostrowski said. “Each piece by itself is pretty easy to install — it’s plug and play. The trick is when they start to intersect.


“I want my TiVo to hook up to my television, and I want to use the flat screen for a computer. That’s when the typical consumer gets in trouble in terms of the quality of the experience and not getting the wires where they need to be connected.”


The obvious next step is to hire an installer, but how many?


“One guy will come out and do the HDTV install, but he can’t do PCs because he doesn’t know about wireless routers, so you’ve got to get another guy out there to do the PC, and then he’s not experienced enough to do the surround-sound, high-end audio, so then another guy’s got to come out and do that,” Ostrowski said.


This is why CompTIA, acting in partnership with CEA, has introduced the Digital Home Technology Integrator+ (DHTI+) certification program.


“What we’re advocating with this certification is that you can get people with all of these skills in one, so it’s one visit to your home, one truck roll for the company, and all these things get done right the first time rather than going back and forth,” Ostrowski said.


Beta testing on DHTI+ completed at the end of 2006. CompTIA is now in the process of going back and looking at the beta data for the exam to see whether it needs to be tweaked. It’s expected to launch in mid-March.

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