I Tried to Buy a New TV This Week

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According to a recent Durex sexual well-being survey, the average American adult spends less than one hour a week on sexual activities. This same average American adult spends about twenty eight hours week watching TV. One could conclude, the black box is 28 times more important than sex to most people. For something that important, the purchasing experience is in woeful need of help.

Take a look at Best Buy’s website – this chain alone sells more than 200 different TVs made by nine different companies. A typical TV costs over $400. This is one of the more expensive items that people buy, and of course, they would like to get it right. Most companies, from blender to shampoo makers, realize that their consumers need information to compare various items, understand their pros and cons and make the correct choice. They try to give information in a comprehensible way. TV companies try another tactic.

Below are typical examples of how major TV brands describe their products:

600 Hz Sub-field, 12000:1 Dynamic range, IPS Alpha Panel. New VIERA models incorporate an improved panel production process and the new Real Black Drive system. A pre-discharge control system, the Real Black Drive system combines with NeoPDP technology to achieve next-generation black reproduction.

As we were reading these specs, we couldn’t but wonder who, FOR LOVING JESUS SAKE, were they written for? Between myself (with an engineering degree from Brown University) and my husband (with a PhD in physical chemistry from MIT), we didn’t have the faintest clue what a 600 Hz Sub field was and what exactly we were supposed to do with it.

While this approach works with some customers, electrical engineers or TV hobbyists, it effectively alienates the majority of buyers, particularly women. But, it is possible to describe complicated modern state of the art technology in such a way that its benefits are obvious to somebody with no interest in electronics. On its website, Apple provides interesting, educating and friendly descriptions of their products such as their LED display:

The 24-inch glossy widescreen display gives your work room to move. And the 1920-by-1200 resolution gives it room to impress. Or, LEDs are solid-state light sources that light up very quickly, so there’s no waiting for your display when you connect it … to Mac notebooks or desktops. You experience full screen brightness instantly. Or, Because of its glass and aluminum construction, the LED Cinema Display is highly recyclable. So when you eventually part with it, rest assured it can be remade into something new.

It doesn’t hurt to speak clearly and understandably. And, if you use a technical term, explain what it means and what benefits a consumer obtains from having this feature. People will like you and be grateful to you and choose your products over those that incorporate an IPS Alpha panel. Whatever that is.

- yvonne lin