Sunday, November 28, 2010

The new tv

I bought a new television this week. It's something I've been meaning to do for months, but for assorted not-particularly-good reasons, hadn't managed to get around to doing.

Part of this was because I was still quite happy with my old tv, a 59cm Sony CRT I'd bought just after moving to Adelaide around 13 years ago. It was still working fine, had great picture quality – it was one of the best tvs around when I bought it; it cost nearly $1000 back in 1998 – so I wasn't in that much of a hurry to replace it.

However, on Sunday afternoon, I must have switched to the menu screen of my dvr and sat down at the pc to do some browsing1; when I got up and went back to the the lounge, I was surprised to find that the tv was off and the orange surge light2 on the powerboard it was connected to was a different colour than usual.

After unplugging and replugging things, and resetting the board, I switched the tv back on. It came on, but it was...weird. The colour was so washed-out as to be almost black and white, and the picture was warped; the vertical lines were all just slightly concave.

Something had, for want of a better word, 'blown'3, and the decision had been made for me.

1I mostly write on my laptop while sitting in front of the tv, but I don't have wireless so if I want to check my email or Facebook or Twitter, I've got to go to the PC, which is in the dining room, facing away from the tv.
2At least I assume that's what it is. Either way, it's normally bright orange and now it was dull.
3I commented on Facebook that it'd blown a 'gasket' – given how old my tv was.

Spoiled for choice

When I bought my last tv, back in 1998, there wasn't anywhere near as much variety as there is now. In fact, I only had to make two decisions – how big a Sony Trinitron did I want to get, and which store did I want to get it from.

Since then, of course, things had changed – so I had a lot of thinking to do. How big a screen do I want? Should I get plasma, LCD or LED? Full HD? 3D? And which manufacturer?

After some faffing about, research online, talking to people, toin-cossing, daisy-petal-pulling, tarot card reading, haruspicy5 and so forth, I decided on a Panasonic 42” Full HD6 plasma.

5That's telling the future by consulting the entrails of sacrificed animals. No, I'm not kidding.
6 Yes, Paul Barbara, that was thanks to your advice – as, no doubt, you'll never let me forget.


In some ways I'm a very patient person. In other ways, though, I'm not – and one thing that I'm impatient about is, once I've made a decision to acquire something, getting my little7 hands on it as soon as possible. Then there was the fact I was stuck with washed-out, bent-picture tv – and that just wouldn't do. I wanted my new plasma tv, and I wanted it now.

But I couldn't get it Monday after work; I'd made plans to go to dinner and a movie and wasn't prepared to back out of that just to get a tv8. So it'd have to be Tuesday.

Tuesday I left work and drove straight to the Good Guys store in Hectorville and wandered into the tv section and started looking for the one I wanted. One of the handy thing about the Good Guys is their website shows stock levels – so I knew they had the one I wanted. Or, at least, they did when I last checked earlier in the day.

Fortunately or unfortunately, one talent I seem to have acquired is the ability to appear invisible to salespeople; unless I go right up to them they pretty much ignore me. This can sometimes be handy – like if I'm only browsing with no intent to actually buy – but when I'm there to make a purchase it can be downright frustrating. After about ten minutes of standing around, I eventually chased someone down and told them what I wanted.

He checked the computer, and it said yes. I was very pleased because – given that the website said their was some there, and that I'd had to spend ten minutes being ignored by the staff – had it turned out that they didn't, I may well have exploded.

All I then needed to do was grab an HDMI cable – which I also wanted, given that my current dvr has HDMI output – hit the checkout, and go 'round the back to collect my new toy.

The grand total was, well, a grand. $1000 for the tv plus the cable – a pretty good deal.

7Literally, not figuratively.
8Plus the film I saw, Winter's Bone, was very good; I intend it to be topic of my next blog post.

Getting it home

My calculations of the size of the tv in its box9 had led me to believe I'd be able to fit it into the back set of my car. The weight I knew – about 25kg without packaging, courtesy of the Panasonic website – which wouldn't be a problem for me at all.

Before I bought it, though, the sales guy and I went out to my car and measured the size of my door-hole; he proclaimed it suitably big enough to fit the boxed-up tv. And he was right – just. It took the guys who brought it out a couple of goes, but they jammed it in there; I still had to lower both rear windows.

But it fit, and I didn't have to spend any more money on delivery or – more importantly – have to have it delivered. My impatience just wouldn't have coped well with that.

9Okay, I didn't make any calculations; I just kind of pictured how big I thought it would be.

Setting it up

After getting it home – a fun drive, given that with a back seat full of boxed-up plasma screen, I couldn't see out of my rearviewmirror10 - I carried it inside and set about getting it set up.

I had to overcome a couple of problems: having to screw the stand together, and then the tv to the stand with the hurdle being my having to remember where I left my screwdriver; and pulling out and plugging in the requisite cables.

I still haven't quite got it all sorted – for some reason I can't get my receiver hooked up to the television – and I'm using an old bookshelf as a stand, and it's currently sitting behind the other cabinets that house my dvr, receiver and dvd player.

From what I can tell none of the large furniture retailers (Freedom, IKEA) make the kind of cabinet that I need – one that has the right kind of shelf configuration that'll fit my centre speaker. So I'll need one custom made, and that's going to take some thought, time and effort.

But the important thing is I got it working.

10Yeah, I'm a Pearl Jam fan.

Enjoying it

It's an impressive device, it really is. Since I don't spend a lot of time watching tv at other people's houses, it never really struck me how much better the new technology is – in fact, quite the opposite; I didn't think it was all that great. But I guess I just hadn't been paying enough attention, because it's freaking awesome to watch.

The night I got it I had to go food shopping – but it was almost impossible for me to drag myself away, even though I wasn't watching anything in particular. Watching something as visually exquisite as an episode of Mad Men was an absolute delight. As I write this sentence, Wall-E is on – and it's looks amazing.

And then there's the cricket. When my old tv died, it hadn't even occurred to me that the Gabba test match was only days away, but imagine my excitement11 when I realised I'd be able to watch it on a bigger, better screen.

The results were fairly predictable; it looked amazing. When I had the opportunity – i.e. yesterday (Saturday) – I watched nearly every ball, and intend to the same whenever I've got the time over the next few months.

Anyway, speaking of which, the cricket's back on – so I'm going to sit back and enjoy it in all its 42 inches of plasmatic12 glory.

11If you didn't already know – or hadn't guessed – in a huge cricket fan and spend a substantial part of my spare time in the summer watching it on tv.
12That's probably not a word. Such is the power of an awesome television.

1 comment:

  1. A good read mate. Also I remember buying a tv around 1996 and you're right in terms of choice, we all got a Sony CRT!