NYT Investigates TV Shrink Ray

Is nothing sacred? The New York Times is reporting that the grocery shrink ray, that scourge of the savvy supermarket shopper, has now been turned to televisions.

The Times writes that advertising circulars for Best Buy, Circuit City, and other stores are listing TVs as inch “classes,” rather than actual measurements, to allow them to shave half an inch off the actual screen size. Take this one from Best Buy: Dynex® – 32″ Class 720p Flat-Panel LCD HDTV – Matte Black. It then goes on to say 32 inches twice more:

Experience your favorite action movies and sports shows in high-definition on this 32″ LCD HDTV that features an ultrafast 6.5 ms response time for fluid visuals and wide 176° viewing angles that help make any seat the best in the house.
What’s Included

* Dynex® 32″ Class 720p Flat-Panel LCD HDTV
* Stationary base
* Remote with batteries
* 5′ detachable power cord
* Owner’s manual

Scroll down further, though, and it lists a “31-1/2″ screen size measured diagonally from corner to corner, ideal for medium-size rooms.” These inch class listings exist for Samsung, Toshiba, and other big manufacturers. The Times reporter contacted the stores and manufacturers and got varying explanations. Best Buy said:

We also started using the word “Class” to describe the size of the television if the screen size was not, in fact, exactly the size at which that television is classified . . . . If a 32? television is actually 31.5? we think a customer might want to know that even though it might not seem like a big deal to some people.

This is troubling news. At least with the grocery shrink ray, the reduced size wasn’t deceptively labeled (imagine a Breyer’s “Half-Gallon Class” that only contained 1.5 quarts).

The Mysterious Shrinking TV [NYT]
(Photo: Getty)

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