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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Greg’s 2000” TV

So as regular readers may have surmised from my last post, we’re moving. I learned many things about myself while moving all of our worldly belongings from the third floor of an apartment building with no elevator to the basement and garage of our new ranch-style home. Mostly they’re lessons like “I don’t like carrying heavy crap” and “I really don’t like carrying heavy crap down stairs” and variants of that.

But I’m not going to talk about that this post. What I am going to talk about is my bitchin’ boss new TV set.

During the course of the move, I had to disconnect and reconnect and disconnect again the cables connecting my DVD player to my old TV. My old TV is a 27” Sharp CRT. Nothing fancy, but it got the job done. I bought it in 2002 or thereabouts, and it has served me well. But when I disconnected the RCA cables from the back of the set, one of the connectors (the yellow one—you know, the video input) pulled out.

It still works, but I took that as a sign to make this the secondary TV, relegated to the basement and dedicated to the PS2 , Gamecube and other assorted obsolete consoles (YAY! Somewhere to hook my Jaguar up again!). With digital broadcast a federally mandated reality, it was time to upgrade the primary set. And boy howdy, did we upgrade.

The first thing you need to understand is that our living room is enormous. It’s a good ten paces from the place where the TV is to the nearest place where someone can sit to watch it. In a situation like that, it’s time to go big. Fortunately, big TVs are on sale these days because retailers are desperate to sell anything in a down economy. So I moseyed on down to Best Buy and picked up a 42” plasma screen. Yes, it’s HD: 720p. The reason I bought 720p is because 1080i is much more expensive and I have doubts about the capability of the human eye to really tell the difference, even at 42 inches.

Plus, I’ve spent the last few years playing PS3 games on a classic cathode ray tube television; and not even a flat-screen CRT. No matter which resolution I chose, the difference was going to blow my socks off, so why spend the extra money?

Since I mentioned the PS3, I might as well mention that I bought an HDMI cable to use with it. The lads at Best Buy recommend a cable that costs $60. I bought one that cost $30 and it’s gorgeous. So a word to the savvy media customer: When it comes to cables, copper is pretty much copper. Don’t waste your money on premium cables.

I also sprang for an antenna so my wife could take advantage of the new broadcast choices afforded by the digital era. We get about a dozen channels, most of them variants of PBS, which means we can watch the annual pledge drive on seven channels instead of just the one.

We’re still using our old, SD DVD player, and the picture looks fine to me. At last count, I have something like 420 movies and TV shows in my DVD collection, and if you think I’m scrapping that for blue-ray you’re crazier than my hair when I got up this morning.

I would like to take a moment to talk about TV stands, because finding a decent one was more trouble than it should have been. First off, who the heck decided that it was a good idea to make the shelf you’re putting a heavy, expensive piece of electronics on out of glass? How does the design meeting for something like that go?

Johnson: So, we want to design a stand that people can put TV sets on. They typically weigh 50 to 100 pounds, and cost a lot of money. What’s a good, sturdy material that can take a lot of weight?

Schwarz: I dunno, wood?

Johnson: Schwarz, get out. You’ve been warned about your flippancy. This company isn’t made of money. Do you think wood grows on trees?

Butterbin: How about glass?

Johnson: Butterbin, that’s the best suggestion I’ve heard all quarter. Glass is a fine, sturdy material that hardly ever breaks when large amounts of force are applied to it. Build the shelf out of glass. Just don’t forget to focus the support beams into as small an area as possible. I don’t know what PSI means, but more of it must be better. Okay gang, get to work. I’m going to lunch!

I imagine it went something like that.

The other thing I’d like to know is why the bases are all so short. This isn’t a universal condition, but at my house we have small children. As a result, we cordon off large, heavy, expensive things like televisions with baby gates like the Superyard. The problem is that the Superyard is 24 inches tall. Most TV stands on the market (that don’t cost more than the TV, at any rate) are 22 to 24 inches tall. That means that you’re likely to have the lower portion of your screen obscured by the baby gate. At least if you plan on sitting down while you’re watching TV, which I’m pretty sure nobody ever does.

Yes, we could mount the TV to the wall, but that requires finding a stud, and that would require finding a stud finder that actually works, which I don’t believe exists. Plus, if you decide to move the TV, it’s much easier to move a cabinet than to remount a wall bracket. And anyway, who wants to look up to see a TV screen? You know who mounts TVs up on a wall? Emergency rooms. Do you want your living room to feel like an emergency room? Me neither.

That minor aggravation is, however, well worth enduring for the ability to finally read the text in Fallout 3. I imagine it’s a completely different game when you can read the on-screen instructions.

It was a platformer, right?