Thursday, September 20, 2007

If You Designed a TV, What Features Would You Include?

If you were to design a flat-panel TV, what features would you incorporate? 1,200 consumers were asked this very question by LCD TV manufacturer Westinghouse Digital Electronics. What did they say? You might be surprised at the results.

The most logical, top-desired features were wireless/Bluetooth connectivity; and a built-in DVR or DVD player. Consumers also want a 120 Hz refresh rate, which results in a significant reduction in image blurring and ghosting: an important feature for any type of programming. It’s good to know that energy-efficiency was also on the mind of consumers.

All of the aforementioned features are promising news to any flat-panel TV manufacturer that's already incorporating many of them into its latest designs.

But two of the most surprising features cited were voice recognition and a touch-screen interface. Apparently having a wireless remote control isn’t good enough: couch potatoes are so lazy, they don’t even want to have to push a button to change channels and find their desired program! The touch-screen idea is oddly on the complete opposite end of the spectrum: if people historically have grumbled when they can’t find the remote, for what function would they want to walk up to a display and leave grubby fingerprints all over it?

The moral of the story: although average consumer insight can often lead to valuable suggestions on product design improvements, sometimes people just get carried away. And I'll add that ideas should always be taken into consideration, no matter how silly they might sound: but final product design should always, always, always be left to the experts.

On a related note, this brings to mind an old episode of The Simpsons, where Homer is given free reign to design a modern car for the average guy, and it ends up looking like a spaceship on wheels, with a horn that plays “La Cucaracha”. Lesson learned.

[Photo: Westinghouse’s TX-42F430S 42-inch 1080p LCD TV].

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