(Screen) Size Does Matter

While we can't vouch for the scientific nature of a recent survey conducted by Quixel Research at Best Buy stores in three different USA locations, the results do fill our hearts with gladness that the average consumer-type person (or at least the average Best Buy visitor) can tell quality when he or she sees it. At least that's how we interpret the results. Sponsored by "several major CE and component manufacturers", Quixel's survey team had "TV purchase intenders" compare Plasma TVs, LCD TVs, front projectors, and MicroDisplay rear-pro sets side-by-side. After careful evaluation in the retail store environment, the consumers then told the Quixel Research scribes what they wanted in a new TV and how much they were willing to pay for it. Quixel claims that the study "is the first of its kind to compare all the products side by side in a retail environment across the USA."

Now, granted, a Best Buy store may not be the most appropriate viewing environment in which to make critical decisions about the qualitative differences between TV technologies (as Chris Chiarella discovered when several of us went deep undercover on shopping excursions at three national chains in April of this year). Be that as it may, the publicly published results of Quixel Research's "Advanced TV Comparison Survey 2004" are an interesting look at the average American consumer's mind.

Of those surveyed, 77 percent stated that they would like to have a screen size larger than 40 inches. (As someone who recently graduated from a 34-inch tube set to an 82-inch front projection monster, I feel your pain...) Not surprisingly, male respondents were willing to allocate higher budget amounts for a TV than were female respondents; but 56 percent of all the respondents had what the survey described as "substantial budgets for their TV purchase."

It's not earth shattering news that consumers ranked plasma TVs as "the most popular TV technology" while also indicating that the prices for plasma TVs were still higher than "their stated price expectations." More surprising are the results that came from the direct comparison of an Enhanced Definition Plasma TV with a MicroDisplay High Definition rear-projection TV. Assuming a price point of $2,000 for each set, 56 percent of the respondents mentioned that they'd prefer a 50-inch HD rear-projection TV over a 42-inch ED plasma TV. While the sexy, ultra-thin allure of the plasma was nice, these savvy consumers were willing to trade up to a bigger, higher resolution picture for the same amount of money.

We're certainly not trying to diss plasma EDTVs, but we're still happy to learn that lots of people out there can see the benefits of an HDTV - even if it isn't only 3.5 inches thick.