Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

This Just In: 3-D Isn’t a “Crucial” Television Feature

Sales of 3-D TV sets might be inching up, but that still doesn’t mean that many consumers are watching 3-D content at home.

That’s according to the latest data from the NPD Group’s retail tracking service. Sales of 3-D TVs in the U.S. grew 74 percent in units over last year, with 3-D TVs accounting for 11 percent of all flat-panel sales in the first quarter of 2012, the report says.

But despite the growth in sales, and the fact that some consumers are wowed by 3-D demos, “just 14 percent of consumers … say 3D is a ‘must have’ feature while 68 percent say it’s a ‘nice feature to have they may use in the future.’”

The obstacles to greater 3-D penetration are the usual suspects, NPD analyst Ben Arnold says. The overwhelming majority of consumers consider 3-D glasses a drawback to the technology, with glasses-free 3-D still far from being perfected; 14 percent say the lack of 3-D content is a deterrent (though that reason is weakening, as more content creators put out 3-D programs).

Cost is also a factor when it comes to newer, souped-up TVs. NPD says the average prices of 3-D TVs in April were 33 percent lower compared to April 2010, but a recent report from IHS iSuppli says that average prices of 3-D LCD TVs actually crept up a teeny bit from December 2011 to April of this year, to $2,492.

So why buy a 3-D TV if you’re not going to use it for 3-D? Well, for one thing, as noted here, “3-D” has been shifting from the main selling point in TV marketing schemes to an add-on feature that happens to be included in high-tech TV sets, so some consumers are buying 3-D-equipped TVs even if they’ve not totally bought into the tech.

And the underutilization of fancy TVs isn’t really a new thing: Turns out that 3-D engagement levels might be in line with some of the data we’ve seen surrounding “smart” TVs, or Internet-connected TVs. Despite the fact that Internet connectivity is often cited as an important factor for consumers making TV purchases, TechNewsDaily reported earlier this year that only half of all people who own Internet-ready TVs have actually gone online through their TVs.

(Image courtesy of Salminari on Flickr; thought bubble courtesy of AllThingsD)

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus