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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 July, 2003, 10:20 GMT 11:20 UK
Hi-tech babble baffles many
Consumer trying out the iPod digital music player
How many of these MP3 things can you put in here?
Most people are confused and flummoxed by the jargon used to describe new technology, says a survey.

Terms such as MP3 and Bluetooth are only understood by a small number of people, a report by a consumer research group found.

The findings are bad news for the industry, as it suggests that the baffling terms are putting people off buying the latest gadget.

"The technology industry must simplify its vocabulary so that consumers around the world can better understand the benefits technology can bring to their lives," said Patrick Moorhead, chairman of AMD's Global Consumer Advisory Board, which commissioned the study.

More than 1,500 people in the US, UK, China and Japan took part in the survey, which looked at how far consumers understood jargon used to described new gadgets.

The results showed that people were perplexed by many of the terms routinely bandied around by technology firms.

Megahertz demystified

Just 3% of those surveyed got a perfect score on a quiz, which included terms such as MP3 - a digital audio file - and Bluetooth - a short-range technology which uses radio waves instead of wires.

Person using the Sidekick mobile phone/organiser

Even the word megahertz, commonly used in advertisements for home computers, mystified many.

Only slightly more than half correctly identified the definition of megahertz - a measurement of frequency which can be used to measure how many times a part of the processor, called the clock, ticks every millionth of a second.

Even people who knew about technology where baffled by some words. Only a third knew what a DVR was.

DVR stands for digital video recorder - a gadget that records shows on a hard drive instead of video tape and usually allows you to pause live TV.

Simple things

The survey makes gloomy reading for an industry which is counting on consumers snapping up new gadgets.

It showed that many people are delaying buying products such as digital cameras because it is all seen as too complex and difficult to understand.

Instead nearly two-third said they "wish to have things work and not spend time setting up."

"The hi-tech industry is spending more than $10 billion a year in the US alone advertising the speeds and feeds of the products," said Mr Moorhead, "but the industry is not getting the full value of their advertising dollars."

The study did offer are some signs of hope for the technology industry. It suggested that people who already have home computers were likely to buy most gadgets such as DVD players.

The survey was commissioned by a research group set by chip maker AMD.

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