Entry 149: Reality TV

{WARNING: This post contains several highly technical terms which were made up by electronics companies to confuse you.  You will find a glossary of these terms at the end of the post.}

So I had just posted my previous piece, about how useless and harmful some technology is, when, in an obvious act of vengeance, a yellow streak appeared on our big-screen TV.

I watched it for awhile, hoping that it would go away, or that it would prove to be specific to one channel. But it did not go away, and it was on all the channels, so I Googled “yellow streak on TV picture” and discovered that it was the result of a blue LCD failing. It didn’t say why the failure of a blue LCD would cause a yellow streak, but I’m sure it has something to do with those color wheels my daughter used to bring home from school.

I also found a way to fix the problem:

Replacing (the blue LCD) is a little complicated, because you have to separate the engine from the electrical chassis to replace it. Lots of screws and lots of connectors. I usually use 3 different colored permanent markers, mark the plug and the socket on the old engine, then swap them and use the old engine as a reference when I plug the plugs back in.

Frankly, they lost me at “a little complicated.” I think I would be about as likely to attempt open heart surgery. On myself.

In any case, we realized that we bought the TV, a 42-inch Sony, just after the rabbit died,* which made the yellow-streaked set about 10 years old. True, my mother still has a Sony that my parents purchased back when Welcome Back, Kotter was new (pre-Scientologist-Travolta!), but I understand that things aren’t built to last as long these days, especially since the technology tends to become dated about a week after a product introduction.

So we decided to buy a new TV. This is not as easy as it sounds. There are just too many choices to make.

The LCD set we had seemed to be fine until it started bleeding yellow, so I figured we could just get another one of those, albeit it in a larger size.

Unfortunately, they don’t make those anymore. Well, they still make them, only they’re LED sets now, except that they’re still LCD, but they’re backlit with LEDs which is evidently a big improvement from how they used to be lit, by a bunch of leprechauns with flashlights.

Okay, so LED LCD it is. Except that it’s not that simple. Because some of these LED LCD TVs are lit from the side, others are lit all over, and some automatically dim their LEDs for reasons known only to them. So we had to decide if we wanted Edge-lit LEDs or Full-Array LEDs.

Or plasma.

Then we had to decide if we wanted 3D to go with our LED LCD (or plasma), but it turned out we really didn’t have a choice, because most of the higher end sets have 3D now since it doesn’t cost any extra, which is good, because once you’ve watched Avatar for the tenth time, there’s not much available to view in 3D. And since I didn’t care about the 3D, I didn’t bother choosing between passive 3D (with glasses like you get at a theater) and active 3D (with glasses that link wirelessly to the content and have some sort of shutter action and possibly administer small electric shocks to the wearer during action sequences.)

Speaking of wireless technology, most of the TVs seemed to have WiFi, so that we could browse the Internet and change our Facebook statuses while watching television because, really, staring at a computer for 8-10 hours a day just isn’t enough and who can stand not knowing that some person you friended last year for reasons you’ve since forgotten is right now at this very moment playing Words With Friends?

Of course, the WiFi also means you can stream things like movies or YouTube videos of cute puppies that simply must by seen on the big screen in order to experience the full impact of their cutiosity. TVs that have Internet capabilities are called “Smart.” The people that buy them, not so much.

So finally we picked out a 1080p 240Hz 3D LED LCD SMART TV HDTV. I know what you’re thinking: “What a buffoon! He clearly should have purchased a 480Hz 3D LED LCD SMART TV HDTV.” Well, let me just say to you that I don’t even know what a friggin Hz is, or what it does, or whether more of them is better than less of them, so keep your thoughts to yourself, will you!**

Meanwhile, my lovely wife Barbara measured the space where the old TV still stood, pointing its yellow-streaked screen at us accusingly. We had originally purchased it for the much smaller room where the rabbit had been,*** and now we could get something bigger. Much bigger. Because Barbara firmly believes you can’t have too much TV.

So we got a 60-inch behemoth which, due to advances in technology, only measures an inch and a half. Or maybe that’s just the depth. It also has voice recognition, which frightens me, because, as I mentioned in my last post, voice recognizers never recognize my voice, and I just know I’m going to tell the TV to tune to channel 701 and instead it’s going to somehow call someone in the 701 area code which would be upsetting because, a) I don’t think it has telephone dialing capabilities; and b) I don’t know anyone in South Dakota.

I ordered the TV on Amazon, which is where I order everything,^and when it came, the delivery guy exceeded my expectations by actually setting the thing up and connecting the myriad wires, using the ones that had been plugged into the old TV. But we were still short an HDMI cable, which is necessary to connect the TV to…something…and which doesn’t come with the TV!

So Barbara went out to buy a couple (you can never have too many HDMI cables) and we’ll try to figure out how to work the thing later.

For the time being, though, we’ve put the 3D glasses someplace safe so we can be sure to have no idea where they are should we ever want to use them. This is where we will also put the small podlike thing which evidently is for the TV’s motion-recognition feature which supposedly will allow the TV to interpret our manic waving and jumping as instructions for it to do something.

The only possible outcome for this would be for Barbara and me to be motioning spasmodically, trying to get the TV to go to closed captioning or turn off or order a pizza or whatever the hell it’s supposed to be able to do, when our daughter walks into the room.

You can’t even imagine how hard she would laugh. She actually might injure herself.

The TV also has a camera, by the way. The manual says that this is for SKYPE and facial recognition, but I think it’s so that the people on TV can watch us. (“Ryan, I will judge that singer in a moment, but first let me say that Barbara is busy playing Bejeweled on her iPad and is NOT PAYING ATTENTION!”) I mean, have you seen the picture quality on SKYPE? Do you really want to blow that up to 60 inches? And what’s facial recognition for, a security feature in case some home invader comes into our home in the middle of the night to watch TV? (“ACCESS TO INFOMERCIAL DENIED!”)

UPDATE: Later that day…

Barbara came back with the HDMI cables and we connected them.  We spent our first night with our new TV watching the BBC’s Sherlock. I couldn’t help noticing that all that new technology didn’t make it any easier to understand what the hell the friggin’ Brits were saying, but the larger screen did make the closed captioning easier to read.

I also noticed that it took about 15 minutes of randomly pressing buttons on three different remotes to get the TV to play our DVD of Sherlock. This probably indicates that either the TV is not quite wired correctly, or its owners aren’t.

See you soon.

*For more on the Death of Snowball, and why it was such a joyous event, see “Entry 141: For Display Purposes Only.”

**I’m exaggerating–I’m really not that much of an idiot. “Hz,” as everyone knows, stands for Huzzamonium, the slightly radioactive element that causes modern high-definition TVs to glow so brightly. The more Hz in a set, the shorter the half-life of the TV.+

***Again, that was “Entry 141: For Display Purposes Only.”

^The exception to this is Nuts.com, which is where I get dried cranberries for our dog (don’t ask), and which somehow ships so quickly, it sometimes seems like we get stuff before we order it.^^

+I’ve now looked up “Hz” and it seems that I may, in fact, be that much of an idiot. “Hz” stands for Hertz, and has something to do with the TV’s “refresh rate,” whatever that is. This is very good news for me, because I’m already a member of the Hertz #1 Club.

^^This breaks the record for most footnotes in one of my posts.

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