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Consumer Reports magazine: June 2012

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What good are the 1080p and 120/240 Hz features in a TV when most of the cable and satellite broadcasts are in 1080i and 60 Hz?
    Maria Bensimon Van Nuys, CA

1080p TV will derive true 1080p performance from 1080i film content from cable. (That’s the “film mode” performance we note on our model pages at But there’s no true 1080p video content from cable or Blu-ray. Video, including sports and the evening news, is shot in 1080i, which most 1080p TVs do a decent job “upconverting.”

Many businesses that accept credit cards set a minimum charge, and my city hall charges an additional fee if you pay by credit card. Is this legal?
    Kristen Davidson Waynesboro, VA

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, in effect since July 2010, allows merchants to set a minimum credit-card purchase of up to $10 as long as they don’t differentiate among card issuers or payment-card networks. They can also charge a processing fee if you pay by credit card.

Are there standards for the statement “clinically proven” in ads for cosmetics and health products?
    David Farquhar Norwich, NY
The Federal Trade Commission requires the claim “clinically proven” to have one or more clinical studies backing it up, and they’re supposed to be of sufficient quality that an expert in the field would consider them adequate proof. But the studies don’t have to be submitted to the FTC before advertising; the burden is on the agency to request and review them if it suspects a claim is misleading.

Travel insurance seems very expensive, and you don’t get much for it. Is it really worth it?
    Carl Vinas Huntington, NY

It can make sense if you fear having to cancel a pricey trip because of illness, for example. But the coverage is often unnecessary if you have protection through homeowners, auto, life, or health insurance; a credit card; or consumer protection laws. If those don’t cover you, try a multi-insurer site such as, and talk to a representative to ensure that your fear is covered. Don’t buy from a tour operator or cruise line because you probably won’t get your money back if it goes bankrupt. And don’t buy from a travel agent; he or she might offer only the insurer that pays the highest sales commissions rather than the best plan for you.

I just got a smart phone and downloaded an app. There was an ominous list of privacy warnings, and the phrase across most of them was “malicious apps can. . . . ” How do I know which apps are malicious, and what does that mean?
    Bob Kip San Diego

Google issues those standard warnings because it can’t guarantee that an app doesn’t contain malicious code. (Malicious means specifically intended to do something the user would not want it to do, such as take personal information for purposes other than what the software is claimed to do.) You should examine the vendor’s information and user reviews to gain confidence that the app is legitimate.

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