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More than half the U.S. households — 56% — now have at least one HDTV installed, according to a new study by Nielson. That’s not particularly surprising, since it’s getting increasingly difficult to buy a display that isn’t high definition (except for the iPad perhaps).

But here’s a statistic that might surprise you. More than 80% of the television viewing in U.S. households is in standard resolution. Part of that is because there are the 44% of the homes without an HDTV, but another part is that many homes have at least one standard definition set even if they have an HDTV. Even so, about 20% of the content viewed on the HDTVs is still in standard definition.

The bulk of the channels on most television subscription services are in standard definition. (And don’t forget that all DVDs are also in standard definition.) It will be a long time from now before all content is delivered in high definition.

So just because you have an HDTV doesn’t mean that you’re watching HD. It appears that either a lot of Americans don’t know the difference, or they don’t care, or — most likely — they don’t have an alternative for the content that they want to watch.

Posted by Alfred Poor, November 11, 2010 5:00 AM

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About Alfred Poor

Alfred Poor is a well-known display industry expert, who writes the daily HDTV Almanac. He wrote for PC Magazine for more than 20 years, and now is focusing on the home entertainment and home networking markets.