Truth Patrol: What This Ad Means

HDTV Truth Patrol

This weekend, I found an a sales circular from Target as I was compiling the data for my Weekly Intelligence Report. One item prompted me to single out Target on the wording of one of their items:

Target has advertised a

The ad shows a 37″ Magnavox listed as a “1080i LCD HDTV“. Two out of three ain’t bad in most arenas, but in consumer electronics, a miss is as good as a mile. People are confused enough about their choices without adding to the problem. The fact is that there are no 1080i resolution LCD HDTVs, at least as far as I know. The “i” stands for “interlaced”, and while this is how all CRT (picture tube) televisions work, all LCDs use a progressive scan to create the image. (This is what the “p” represents in 1080p and 720p.) The industry standard practice is to refer to LCD TVs by their native resolution, or by the HDTV resolution that they can display without having to scale the image up or down.

In this case, the Magnavox model has a Wide XGA native resolution of 1366 by 768 pixels. This also is enough pixels to show a 720p HDTV signal. So this model should be advertised as Wide XGA or 720p; either would be okay.

1080i is not okay. It is true that this model can accept a 1080i signal and scale it down to fit the screen, but so will just about every 720p LCD HDTV on the market. At the very least, some copywriter misread the specifications and nobody caught the error. At the worst, someone at Target made a conscious decision to try to make the display sound more capable than it is. The bottom line, however, is that some shoppers will undoubtedly be misled by this description.

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