Sunday, December 16, 2007

Guide Column 12/14/07

While you wouldn't know it from the lack of blog updates lately, I actually had been getting the itch to have a byline again. This column was born out of me very nearly pulling the trigger on a new TV the other day at Best Buy - I couldn't bring myself to do it, but it was close. Anyway, here's what I wrote - pay no attention to what actually printed in the paper, as the Guide editor inexplicably gutted my column to make room for a big-ass picture of a TV, as if no one had ever seen one before. There's only 400 or so of them in the Best Buy insert that goes out every week....

All I want for Christmas is a (bigger) flat screen TV

Last December, my wife and I bought our first house, an occasion that also seemed like the perfect time to finally enter the world of high-definition TV (if you’re dropping an obscene amount of cash on a house, what’s another lousy grand, right?) Being the kind of educated, slightly obsessive but not terrifically wealthy geek that I am, I did my research, and eventually settled on a 32-inch LCD TV from some generic company I’d never heard of. I took my new baby home, signed up for Hargray’s HD service and spent the subsequent months loving life with a pure joy I’d never really dreamed possible. (The first time I watched my beloved Denver Broncos in hi-def, I nearly cried. Really. I’m tearing up now, just thinking about it).

This year, here’s what I think about my purchase: I need a new one. Fast. Probably now. Why? The TV is too small. It only has one HDMI input (if you’re not as attuned to complicated acronyms as me, take my word for it that this is a bad thing). There aren’t nearly enough HD channels on my cable service, and the standard-definition channels look worse than they do on the old tube TV. And to top it off, the greedy movie studios are engaged in an ongoing and extremely stupid battle between high-definition DVD formats, meaning that if I want to watch “Transformers,” I have to buy a HD-DVD player, and if I want to watch “Spider-Man 3,” I have to buy a Blu-Ray player. For a geek such as myself, having to choose between watching giant robots whale away on each other or watching Spider-Man do his thing in high definition is like picking a favorite between “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Star Trek II.” In other words, it can't be done.

So if I might offer a bit of advice to the many of you purchasing mammoth TVs this Christmas season, I’d say this: Spend the money up front and get the biggest one you can. Not just because it looks better, and not just because you’ll wish you did in a year, but also because otherwise, all of your friends will buy bigger TVs than you. It's the law of the HD jungle: Bigger is better. More than likely, these friends will also pick up a satellite dish and spend great energy telling you how they're going to watch, say, the much-anticipated Dartmouth/Brown men's lacrosse game in HD that night and how awesome it will be. Do they care about men's lacrosse? No. Do they want you to know they have the option to watch it in HD and you don’t? Yes.

If I sound bitter, it’s because I gauge my self-worth based on the size of my television, but also because I’m stuck with my small(ish) LCD TV. I try to cope: I wander dazed through the TV section at the new Best Buy in Bluffton during my lunch break. I daydream about hosting a HALO 3 LAN party on my new 60-inch plasma. I come up with new and exciting ways to convince my wife that while it may not appear that we desperately need a new TV, in fact our (and by “our” I mean “my”) very social life depends on it. (I also remind her that she was the one who bought the oversized TV stand which now further diminishes the size of the television; so really, it's her fault. Oddly, she doesn't share my point of view.)

Anyway, I still haven't decided if I'm going to buy a bigger TV or not. Perhaps a pro/con list would help.

Pro: I can actually watch a hockey game and see the puck.
Con: I have nowhere to put the “old” TV.
Pro: I won't have to unhook the PlayStation every time I want to watch my AppleTV.
Con: There’s very little chance that the wife will not be irritated with new purchase.

Alright, this isn’t helping. I suppose at the end of the day, I don’t need a larger TV, and I suppose I could pretty easily find a better way to spend a grand than replacing something I already own. Which reminds me, I haven’t upgraded my computer in at least three months. Mmmm....geeky....


Bill Wheatley said...

At bestbuy they have the psyosis(sp) company that sells hdmi switch boxes. 4 hdmi + optical in and walla. Then you get yourself the 100 dollar xbox uber remote by logitch at best buy as well then you can program that baby to play PS3 and switch to the right hdmi input on your box. Or xbox etc etc its so nice. I have the
hdmi box and the component box since i was stuck in the component world before i got my 56 samsung dlp which i love. I agree i started with a 36 inch HD tv then i had to get the 56 inch tv. Watching the skins or ravens in hd is so damn sexy.

Allison Bonner said...


Bill Wheatley said...

Sorry i get a little excited when i start talking about hi-tech gadgets :) But you really do only need one HDMI port if you get this: They have one for a component based switcher too. Then get a universal remote and you can control everything with the one remote very sexy.