One More Love Affair Rooted In Ignorance

When it comes to high-tech consumer goods, Americans are at once avid and clueless. A survey conducted for Parade magazine by The Yankee Group examines this phenomenon. One example: 16 percent of consumers think they own a digital video recorder, although just 4 percent actually do so. Along the same lines, while 78 percent said photo quality is the foremost feature they look at in shopping for a digital camera, 55 percent “have never heard of or don’t know what megapixels are.” When asked to cite their chief sources of information about such products, 53 percent of respondents mentioned their friends and relatives—who may or may not know much more than they do themselves. As you’d expect, households with kids age 18 or under have a “higher digital IQ” than those without kids—and are more eager to buy high-tech goods (see the chart). Even amid all the high-tech alternatives, TV still has a special hold on Americans. When the survey’s respondents were invited to compose a “wish list” of consumer-tech goods, plasma televisions tied with computers for the most mentions, and high-definition TV sets came in third.