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Hooking up
OMG 1080p HDTV LOL

08/11/11
By John Andrews jandrews@hippopress.com



It is officially Modern Times in the Andrews household. We have an HDTV.

Yes, my Daewoo 27-inch tube television has served me well since my roommated bachelor days, and it may still find a place in the basement with some older video game systems, but the time for an upgrade was long past. Letterboxed  widescreen movies were rendered tiny on its nearly square display, and the Blu-ray player hooked up to it whimpered whenever it was forced to output such a low resolution.

I spent months researching. Low power consumption was a must, so LED took an early lead over traditional LCD and plasma. Full HD 1080p resolution, too — why go HD if you’re not gonna go all the way? We considered 3-D, but ultimately decided that there wasn’t enough good content to justify it, and we probably wouldn’t end up using it that much unless suddenly everything were pushed out in that format. We also chose not to get a fancy networked model with lots of apps built in; the Blu-ray player has apps already, and the way these things advance, it’s nice to have the option to upgrade just the connected hardware without getting a whole new TV.

After all the comparison shopping and coupon-finding, we settled on a refurbished 42-inch Vizio. Inexpensive but well-reviewed, and the right size for our cozy living room setup. Nice picture, and the built-in speakers aren’t as crushingly awful as some others we tried out in stores. Supposedly it only uses 75 Watts when turned on, though that varies by picture content, brightness, volume and moon phase.

Oh, the channels! We pay for the cheapest of cheap basic cable options, and even that delivers a bevy of digital HD channels we were never able to see on our old analog TV set. Sure, most of them are some variety of home shopping, or duplicates of local broadcast stations, but the sheer number of them almost makes up for not having real cable.

Though it’s rarely used, there’s plenty of room for our VCR, too. Picture quality on the new TV should be thoroughly horrible, especially given the connectivity options on the thing: composite video or cable wire. The composite interface doesn’t even have stereo sound, just a single RCA plug for mono audio. Any videocassette-based entertainment will have to be enjoyed ironically.

The Blu-ray player has to be happiest. Three inviting HDMI ports to choose from! It’s the interface of choice for high-resolution playback, so it’s a shame that it also includes technology for preventing copying of the video stream — you know, to make legal backup copies of media you already own. Its single cable is also easier than the five separate connections its previous progressive scan hookup required — three for video and two for audio.

I’m most looking forward to connecting an old desktop computer for giant Web browsing and free video streaming. The laptop has an HDMI port of its own, but the television also has a VGA port to accommodate old-fashioned video cards. If I just want to look at some pictures on the big screen, USB ports on the side make turning on a computer unnecessary.

A few years ago, all these features seemed revolutionary. Now, they’re par for the course. What will the next upgrade be?

Big, beautiful movies won’t distract me from posting at twitter.com/CitizenjaQ.






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