Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

The TV

My new TV showed up yesterday.  Samsung had an annual gift thing where they would give out your choice of various Samsung products, and since the year-end gift actually shows up in late March, there was some question whether or not I would get it.  Last year, I got an NC-10 netbook; this time around, the choices were slightly higher-end, given the great return to prosperity (or at least the fact that sales weren’t horribly in the red.)

This year’s best choice was a 40″  5-series LCD TV.  The only downside is that less than a year ago, I bought a 26″ 2-series Samsung TV, so now I am stuck with a second TV and no place to put it.  I will probably dump it on Craigslist, although my general experience with selling on Craigslist is fairly negative.  The ratio of buyers to crazy people who want to swindle, spam, or question you about the obvious is not favorable.  It might be more rewarding to just throw this one out the window and put a video of it on youtube, or maybe take it to a gun range and fill it full of 9mm holes, instead of answering 400 “can I pay you 20% of your asking price and can you deliver it to me 70 miles away at 3AM on a Tuesday and then can I complain that you ripped me off because it doesn’t feature 3D mind control and/or I didn’t understand the concept that a 26″ TV is actually 26 inches and not somehow 197 inches?”

And just to be proactive about the “oh I don’t watch TV; I only listen to NPR and debate the merits of 14th century agricultural unions with my local organic grocer co-op” comments I will probably get for confessing the terrible evil that I own a TV, I should preface that the TV is more of a video monitor than it is a TV.  I mean, I don’t spend 20 hours a day watching Fox News and The Bachelor re-runs on it; I think most of the time is spent streaming video from NetFlix or playing stuff off of the BluRay player formerly known as the PS3.   I do have cable now, and I have a DVR and cherry-pick a few things from it, but it’s odd how using a DVR disconnects you from the culture of watching TV.  It used to be on Friday mornings, everyone would talk about the shows that were on Thursday nights.  But now people watch those shows time-shifted to whenever, or catch up when the DVD round-up hits NetFlix a few months later, or just go to hulu or torrent the thing down.  It makes the viewing far more convenient, but removes the communal aspect of it.

That said, our DVR is a piece of shit.  Comcast, despite their blabbering about how Xfinity is the future of all communication, provides us with a total garbage Motorola box.  Their “HD” box has component out, the worst user interface that has ever come out of anywhere aside Redmond, and a remote that’s about as responsive as a PC Jr. rendering an entire James Cameron feature-length 3D movie.  The only fan of this box is our cats, who think that it’s their heated bed, and fight over who gets to lay on top of it and shed hair into its moving parts.  I know it’s only a matter of time before it shorts out and we have to schedule a service call with Comcast, who will say “we can be there between the months of June and August, so stay home from work then” and give us another circa-1997 box, probably a month before they declare that our neighborhood is Xfinity-ready or whatever they call it, and we require new boxes.

I do have to say it’s neat that when we get a call on our Comcast digital voice service, a caller ID box pops up on the TV.  Too bad we get the majority of our calls to our cell phones these days.

Anyway, the new TV is in place.  It fit well in the entertainment center, and does not block the traversal path to the feline heated bed.  It is weird though, because it’s the same TV UI, and a very similar remote, and the same startup/shutdown chime, and is otherwise just a super-sized version of the same TV I had.  So although it’s gigantic, and now it’s 1080p, it’s not a radically different set than what I had.

I haven’t fired up the PS3 with any games yet, so I should see how Modern Warfare 2 does on the big screen.

[2020 update: this TV died five years later.]