Ever So Slightly Ridiculous

The Playstation 3 isn’t playing nicely with the new TV for some unfathomable reason (I’ll figure it out later), and we needed a DVD player for the night’s New Moon Estrogen Spectacular, so I hooked up my desktop computer to the TV, since at the moment it’s not doing anything but sitting about waiting for my office to be fully furnished. It worked like a charm, so we had our DVD player, and as a side bonus, at the moment my new HDTV is pulling double duty as my computer monitor. Which is vaguely ridiculous, but fun, at least in the short run, and especially while playing Left 4 Dead 2. Mmm, supersized zombie killin’. Also, yes, I’m writing this on it.

For those of you curious as to what we purchased, it was one of these, which as I understand it is price and feature-wise somewhere in the great undifferentiated middle of HDTV choices one could make. I’m happy with it (or else I wouldn’t have bought it), and if nothing else it’s interesting to contrast it with the last big screen TV we bought. We got that one in late 2001, and while it was theoretically HD capable, at the end of the day it was mostly just big. I’m pleased that most of a decade later I can pay several hundred dollars less for something with roughly four times the resolution, twice the refresh rate and also at least 150 pounds lighter, thanks to that whole “flat screen” thing. It’s one of those “hey, I actually do live in the future” moments.

I’ll also admit to having conflicted emotions about the new TV. I’ve been wanting a new TV for a while, but have held off for the simple reason that the TV we had was still working fine. Both Krissy and I subscribe to the philosophy that when you buy, you buy as well as you can afford, because you buy to last, and you use that thing until you can’t use it anymore. This is a very fiscally prudent philosophy but it does get in the way of one’s wants (which is, you know, sort of the point). So when the electron gun finally went on the other TV, I felt a bit of glee: w00t! I can get a new shiny! But it also happened to blow when we’ve already been laying out lots of dough for new flooring and carpeting, so the additional expense makes me a little twitchy.

And you might say, well, then you should have held off getting a new TV. And in fact we did talk about that — not just holding off, but also whether we really wanted a replacement at all. But at the end of the day we did want a TV in the living room, and despite the unexpected expense, when all is said and done we’ll still be coming in under the amount we originally budgeted for home improvements. So it made sense to go ahead and get something now. Nevertheless, the discussion between Krissy and I was good to have — making sure not only that we could afford it, but that in fact it was something we felt was useful to have, and not just something to buy because you’re supposed to have it in the house.

And now, having justified the expense to you all, I’m going to tuck in just a little bit more supersized zombie killin’ before turning in for the night. Those zombies won’t kill themselves.

46 Comments on “Ever So Slightly Ridiculous”

  1. Wow, man. Sounds like alot of guilty-sounding justification to a bunch of people you owe nothing to and do not know at all regarding the new hardware acquisitions and all.

    I see through your sneaky ploy though….

    The thing you really should be most guilty about is the thing you try to sneak in at the very beginning…..before distracting us with all the other stuff….the, *cough cough cough* New Moon mention.

    You could spend half your family’s savings on hardware and you know no one here would give a crap. Twilight thought, well that’s another matter.

    Another matter entirely!

    Please explain this heresy.

  2. I have to say that Vizio TVs are great for the money and that the new TVs are better in every way from the old ones. Even the menus make more sense. Enjoy modernity! Well, at least for a few more days, until suddenly holographic entertainment centers come out.

  3. I went through something similar just last year, and ended up with a 42″ Regza with a hard disk recorder…and man, it really is something to play PS3 on. Half Life 2, blasting those headcrab zombies with the pulsecannon…awesome.

  4. My PS3 did that when I changed my TV too. From standby press and hold the power button for 5 seconds until you hear the second beep. That’ll reset the video settings.

  5. Jen – wife. mother. knitter. unschooler. band geek. fatass. card-carrying socialist. militant breastfeeder. profane. agnostic. ENFP
    CTJen

    My hubby built a PC specifically to be used in the living room with the HDTV as the monitor. You haven’t lived until you’ve surfed the web in 55 inches from your la-z-boy.

  6. Last year, my family bought a Mac Mini and permanently hooked it up to our big screen TV. It’s pretty cool, especially for watching TV shows on-line.

  7. Sorry to hear about the Playstation/TV handshake issue. You’re using HDMI cables, I assume? (And for God’s sake please don’t buy Monster cables, just go to http://www.monoprice.com and get everything you need for literally a tenth of the price.)

    And no, I don’t work for or have any affiliation with monoprice.com. I just use them a lot and think they’re great. I learned the hard (and expensive) way. I’d probably spent close to $1,000 on Monster cables over the years (I had multiple, complicated setups at my old house) and found the quality of monoprice cables to be exactly the same — and yes, I am a big enough nerd that I conducted sound and video comparison tests to see.

    With my video nerd helmet still firmly in place, I’m going to recommend you pick up a calibration disk like Avia and do at least a rudimentary calibration of your set. It will help with your color balance and, more importantly, improve your black level, which is critical for getting images that pop (deeper blacks are always good).

    It might take 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how detailed you want to get. And if you have a surround sound system hooked up, it can help get your sounds levels set up correctly too.

    Enjoy!

  8. Dave H – I can see Canada from my house – Aging dad, electronics nerd, embedded software developer. (I'm the guy who makes your microwave blink 12:00.)
    Dave H

    They just don’t make electron guns like they used to.

  9. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me
    Chang

    We have a VIZIO 27 inch in our bedroom and it’s quite nice – EXCEPT FOR THE SOUND!!! It makes the monitor output from a PowerMAc 7200 sound like a Macintosh Amplifier and JBL Q5700 speakers. Fortunately I bought a Logitech computer speaker setup for $50 which rectified this.

    Enjoy your hugenormous TV>~~

  10. I know very well how the unexpected expense happens with televisions having experienced it myself recently. I purchased a 47in 120hz 1080p insiGnia television from Best Buy and it works great. I as well have connected my Desktop PC to it at least once “Just to see” as I told my wife. and L4D2 looked great on it. As well as World of Warcraft :P

  11. That Barry @8 knows what he’s talking about.

    John, I know you’re a PC gamer, but you should check out some of the PS3 pretties now that you have a screen to appreciate them. Check out flower – it’s a very relaxing video game, and sooooo nice at 1080p.

    I use the VGA connection on my tv for – a Sega Dreamcast, which has a native 480p output. Out-nerd *that* commentariat.

  12. Enjoy! My wife felt I needed a Valentines present, so we bought that one’s 32″ little brother. Really nice picture, good controls, well laid out.

    I enjoyed the 3 seconds I spent watching the Winter Olympics on it, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy the 17 seconds I will spend watching the Red Sox lose another pennant. My wife really likes my present too. A lot. :)

    She thinks I may need a new convertible soon.

    Enjoy your movie,
    Jack Tingle

  13. HerrSnibbens:

    “Sounds like alot of guilty-sounding justification to a bunch of people you owe nothing to and do not know at all regarding the new hardware acquisitions and all.”

    Heh. Well, maybe. I prefer to think of it as yet another opportunity to remind people of my philosophy of fiscal responsibility, which includes making sure you know what your financial situation is, making sure you can pay for what you purchase (instead of falling into the credit card payment trap), and buying what you buy for long-term use instead of a short-term want.

    Also, I didn’t buy New Moon It was introduced into my house without my knowledge or consent. I SWEAR.

  14. Oh, sure, it seems big, but a 1080p TV is the same resolution as a monitor from 2001. They’re all blurry.

  15. You are lucky they didn’t make you take them to see it at the theater. At least this way you can do something else while they watch it…

    your family bought new moon and its not a rental? you are screwed. the female part of your family will watch it 100 times.

  16. So does the part where you say you did some writing on it justify it as a business deduction on next years taxes?

  17. Clearly if it is being used as a monitor, it’s a business expense. The size is important because, you know, as you age smaller characters are hard to see. Clearly, this TV is critical to the survival of your writing business.

  18. Good luck with the new TV. (and jeebus but is it HUGE!) I will share with you that I bought a Vizio in Jan and had weird issues with it: it would turn itself off after emitting the most ridiculously loud screeching sound. Thought it was the cable hookup (long story on that issue). Turns out it *was* the TV, so I returned it and got a diff brand. I found that other Vizio owners also complained–their TVs turned themselves off and sometimes never turned back on again. So…keep the box, for a while anyway, k?

  19. We also had one of those really heavy sort of HDTVs bought back in 2001. Those things weigh a ton. I could actually help my hubby pick up the new HDTV we got at the beginning of last year.

    We have a PS3 hooked up to our HDTV. I know it works right. I’m amazed at the picture quality too.

    I’m happy to say none of the Twilight series is in our house right now. Of course, I do have teenage boys, who wouldn’t be caught alive with it around.

  20. The PS3 is much more durable than Xbox360. I went through about 4-5 of those in 2-3 years, while my PS3’s lasted 3 years so far.

  21. Merus, that’s true. My laptop is 1080p, for instance.

    But until they get a better resolution…

    Also, it’s not that blurry.

  22. This sounds almost scary-familiar. We currrently have a nice, largish, perfectly functioning TV, and my husband agonizes almost daily over the fact that he sees large HDTVs everywhere and he wants them, my Precious.

    We could buy the lovely new shiny toy, but we shopped very carefully when we bought the last one and now it’s biting him in the nether portions. I merely ask him what in our financial plan he’d like to give up to bump the TV up on the list…funny how nothing ever seems to move on the list…

  23. Speaking as a non-PR Sony employee, I think it’s pretty safe to say that no matter how completely awesome the current batch of TVs seems to be, every electronics firm has plans that will make those awesome HDTVs of today seem obsolete and decrepit in five years.

    Both buying now just to have the best is a sucker’s game.

  24. Christy,

    Without knowing what you have…. I recently bumped the 15 year old 27″ TV off and replaced it with a 40″ 1080p set… for $500. It was WELL worth the few hundred dollars, whereas a 46 or 51″ set would not be worth 3x as much to me.

    There’s always a sweet spot for things like TVs, laptops, etc. I think that you decide what that price is and then, when that money will buy you a big step up from what you have, replace the old with new. TV’s not worth more than $5-700 for me, so when I could get a reasonable size and quality for that money, voila!

  25. While my wife and I are mostly pleased with our 50″ plasma HDTV we got last Christmas, we are rather annoyed that it can’t be used to play PSOne original games! It hadn’t occurred to us that this limitation would happen, so we didn’t plan ahead to get around it somehow.

  26. @TomG: Can’t play SNES games on my Panasonic 720p plasma either, at least not through the A/V cables. The TV doesn’t seem to be able to de-interlace the signal, so the screen alternately flickers even and odd lines.

    I think we both need a media PC with emulators for our old games. :)

  27. I just replaced the bulb on my JVC tv, trying to be frugal… But now the audio buzzes. I wish I had just purchased a new t.v. Enjoy your new telelvision. It was a very good purchase that the whole family can appreciate.

  28. I have a flatscreen TV and I enjoy it. I use it to watch movies and play Wii.

    I do not have cable and/or satellite inputs for my TV. I do not like the idea of paying a bunch of money every month for channels I do not watch (e.g. the Jesus channel, the Big Trucks channel, the Fishin’ with Jim Bob and Earl channel). No doubt those channels have their audience, but I am not of that number.

    Someday, if and when Comcast offers “a la carte” pricing where you pay for the channels you actually watch, I may reconsider my position. I would like to be able to watch programming on the Discovery channel, the History channel, and SyFy. I would gladly pay to be able to watch programming on these channels (although, in all honesty, not Stargate: Universe and its progenitors). But for the time being, I am happy to use my TV as a medium for watching The Big Lebowski at my leisure, and playing Wii bowling. But — and I must stress this — I don’t roll on shabbas!

  29. Josh Zyber – Josh Zyber is a veteran movie and home theater reviewer from Laserdisc to Blu-ray and beyond. He previously wrote for DVDFile.com, DVDTalk.com, and Home Theater magazine. He wrote hundreds of disc reviews for HighDefDigest.com and managed the Bonus View daily blog there for nearly a decade. He can currently also be found covering additional TV topics at Primetimer.com.
    Josh Z

    If you’re still having problems with the PS3, make sure you’re hooked up by HDMI and use these settings in the console:

    BD/DVD Cinema Conversion: Automatic
    BD/DVD Upscaler: Normal
    BD/DVD Video Output Format (HDMI): Y Pb/Cb Pr/Cr (if your TV will accept it)
    BD 1080p 24 Hz Output (HDMI): On (if your TV will accept it)
    RGB Full Range (HDMI): Limited
    Y Pb/Cb Pr/Cr Super-White (HDMI): On

    I will also re-emphasize the suggestion in comment #11 to get and use a calibration disc. The “Digital Video Essentials: HD Basics” Blu-ray is just under $20 on Amazon, and well worth every penny.

  30. See, this is why I payed a little extra for a Sony TV. I really hate it when my shiny new toys don’t play nice together. I really appreciate the way the two control each other. Just choosing matching components simplified my remote control and video setup.

    Also, first game on the new TV: Legend of Zelda for the NES emulated on the media PC.

    8-bit sprites as big as my hand? AWESOME!!!!!

  31. Personally, I admit some flat-screen coveting, but it’s largely driven by an interlinked coveting of a Boxee Box or AppleTV or some other flavor of media center. I gather such things don’t tend to play nice with the sort of TV that was bought used several years ago, for $50.

    Perhaps I will offer up a prayer to St. Tesla for a convenient electron gun failure …

  32. You have my sympathy for having to endure watching New Moon but thats what happens when you are surrounded by members of the farier sex! I had to sit through it when it first came out. Worse part of it is I had to pay for the “privilege” of watching it with my girlfriend.

  33. I’m in the same boat you were, John. I bought my tv in 2004, and I swore I wouldn’t buy another one for at least ten years. When we moved to DC from San Diego in 2008, our stuff took an additional 9 days to arrive, so we broke down and bought a small flatscreen for about $300. Then, this weekend we each decided we wanted to play different Xbox 360 games (me: Halo Wars; him: Gears of War II), so we put the TVs side by side with our two 360s (long story), and holy cats, the difference betwen the two TVs is amazing! I have no idea what the specs are on the little TV (we got it because the price was right, and we could use it as a laptop monitor while we were waiting for our stuff to arrive), but it just kicks the big TV’s ass! We are NOT in a place to buy a new TV, but I so terribly want to replace my big, heavy, and clunky 54″ with a flat screen. Sigh.

  34. Early hdmi devices came out before there was a test for hdcp, the hdmi copy protection. I’m not sure a user can test hdcp. You might have better luck with component connections.

  35. I can also vouch for monoprice.com. Good cables at prices that aren’t INSANE.

    As for the PS3/TV problem, if you give specifics, I’m sure we can make suggestions.

    Did you change from component to HDMI cabling? The PS3 should behave well with most TVs, but it might require changing some of the options on the PS3 to properly use the right connectors AND to output in the correct format.

  36. I had similar views towards buying a plain old large television about 6 or 7 years ago. My main television in my house was a tiny portable and I watched everything on it. By the late 90’s I could afford to buy a new T.V. but I didn’t because, dagnabbit, the old one still worked.

    I finally relented and bought a new large television when I got a DVD player; I thought it was silly to play DVD’s on a portable. I gave the old T.V. (that still worked) away.

    I am currently saving for a large screen HDTV. I figure they are at a price that I can justify buying one and having a second television in my house. People occasionally ask me how big do I want it. I explain to them that when you go to a T.V. store the sizes go up by two inches and a few hundred every two inches; then there is this point where the next two inches costs you an extra three to four thousand dollars. I want the size two inches smaller than that.

    My goal is to get this around Christmas time (along with an I-phone) I should have the money sitting in a savings account then. Yes I learned that from a number of people including our esteemed host.

    Cheers
    Andrew

  37. And “Twilight” was a plot thread on Sons Of Tuscon last night.

    Coincidence?

  38. For everyone concerned about my PS3 troubles: I figured it out, thanks. And now everything is groovy again.

  39. My husband played Portal on our new set when we first acquired it. It’s the 47′ kind. He made himself motion sick.

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