While 94 percent of Americans who have a TV set watch it every day, more than half of them would like to dump their set for a newer and probably thinner one. That’s according to a poll commissioned by Sony Electronics in November to gauge consumers’ level of satisfaction with their TVs. The findings show that many of us want to break up with our current sets, though men and women have different issues with them. Here are a few of the key findings in the national online poll of 2,574 adults conducted by Harris Interactive.
How much TV?
62 percent of those who have a TV spend three hours or more per day watching it. 19 percent spend six hours or more daily with their TV.
Who’s on the couch the most?
Adults ages 45 to 54 are more likely to spend more than six hours a day with their TV than those ages 18 to 34 or 35 to 44. Women are more likely than men to be in this group, and divorced, separated or widowed Americans are more likely to be in this longest-watching group than those who are married.
53 percent of those with a TV would like to upgrade to one with better features. The numbers are higher for men: 58 percent of them would like to ditch their current set vs. 49 percent of women.
Top reasons for wanting to break up with a TV: 1. Embarrassed by its size. 2. Think it’s outdated. 3. Unsatisfied with model.
Looking to upgrade your TV for Super Bowl Sunday?
Last year, 22 percent of consumers who bought new sets did so to watch the NFL championship game, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. The latest smart TVs with motion control and voice commands starred at the Consumer Electronics Show this month.
But most of us shopping for a television will focus on how big a screen we can get for our budget.
Prices for flat-panel sets have fallen from thousands to hundreds over the past decade. Technology keeps improving: LCD/LED models make up the majority of the market, though plasma sets are still around. According to the CEA, 34 million TVs were sold in 2011, 18 million of them with screen sizes of more than 40 inches.
• Internet connections. Internet-connected sets are a growing part of the market. They can take you directly to services such as Netflix and Hulu.
• 3-D. A growing number of movies and sporting events are available for at-home viewing.
• 3-D viewing with 3-D-ready sets.
• OLED. Organic light-emitting diode TVs offer clearer, higher-contrast pictures and even thinner screens.
• Keep it dry. Use only a piece of soft cloth or microfiber to clean the screen. Never water.
• Update. If you have an Internet-connected TV, make sure your software is up to date, says Rob Manfredo, spokesman for Sony Electronics Home Division.
• Turn it off. Switch off your set when you’re not using it. Some models have energy-saving switches that totally disconnect power from wall outlets.
Low, middle, high
We asked Jeff Stanton, sales manager of Belmont TV in Baileys Crossroads,Va., to choose three TV sets from the store’s inventory. We focused on the store’s best-selling size, about 46 to 51 inches.
• Toshiba 46-inch LED HD TV: Built-in WiFi. Four HDMI inputs (to connect multiple audio/video components). 120Hz screen refresh rate (faster is especially good for sports and video games). Energy Star qualified. Model 46SL417. $898.
• Samsung 51-inch Plasma HD TV: WiFi-ready (you provide an adapter, about $69). Four HDMI inputs. 600Hz refresh rate (offers less motion blur). 3-D (with two pairs of glasses). Model PN51D550. $998.
• LG 47-inch LED HD TV: Built-in WiFi. Four HDMI inputs. 3-D (with four pairs of glasses). 120Hz refresh rate. Energy Star qualified. Model 47LW5600. $1,198.
• Come armed with room measurements and discuss placement with salespeople. The screen size is the diagonal measurement of the set. Experts caution consumers to be realistic about what will fit. But screen size is a major selling point in today’s market.
“The number one regret people have after they buy a TV is that they didn’t buy one that was big enough,” says Carl Laron, senior editor at ConsumerSearch.com.
• Study the different technologies available and decide which features are important to you. Set a budget.
• Nearly all flat-panel sets are sold with a swivel base. If you plan to hang your TV on a wall, you’ll need a bracket ($50 to $300), and you’ll have to decide whether you can do it yourself. “If you are comfortable hanging a large mirror, you can probably handle hanging your television,” says Sony’s Manfredo.