I Came Home and the TV Was Dead

Not totally dead.  Just dead enough to be completely useless.

A thin line of video, intensely bright, beams out from the middle of the screen.

I no longer control the vertical

Now when turned on, it sits there, perpetually in that moment I remember from childhood when you turned an old fashioned TV off and the picture first collapsed into a narrow, horizontal band before shrinking into that small, glowing dot in the center of the screen that would take minutes to fade.

And in the grand old tradition of television from my childhood, I pounded the TV on the side.  The picture flickered to full size, recognizable for a fraction of a second, before returning to is thin line.  No luck there.

Okay, the TV was 15 years old.  A 32″ JVC unit, it was the first big thing my wife and I purchased together as a couple.  I knew the TV couldn’t last forever, but now the time has come rather suddenly and I miss it already.  And I will miss it even more soon I bet.

Not that I hold great affection for this TV.  It is just a TV, chosen years back for its size, price, and plentiful inputs.

No, it is what this TV stood for, that is what I will miss.

And what did this TV stand for?

It was part of a complete entertainment unit that was perfectly balanced and worked well together.  It was a harmonious union in which each component was within the capabilities of all the others.

Now, however, a new TV will need to be purchased, and soon to avoid domestic unrest.   And that new TV will, no doubt, break up the harmony of the system, highlighting the deficiencies in the other components.

And that TV stood for something else.  That TV is a milestone, a marker on the path of life, indicating that last point in time when I felt competent in my knowledge to make an intelligent choice when purchasing a TV.

And think of how much television technology has changed in the last 15 years.  The uncaring mind boggles when suddenly faced with that.  We had a VCR hooked up to this TV initially, as we did not have a DVD player yet.

I built my own computer, can get invested in the level of video card or processor technology, but televisions?  I just don’t care that much.  And so I am way behind the curve.

But now I must make a choice, one that will affect my family, and our finances, greatly.  Sure, the TV might not cost that much, but if standard definition programming looks like crap on it, which I find is the case with many of the LCD screens I’ve seen, then there will become demand to invest in high definition.  More money for equipment, more money for the people at DirecTV.

I have to figure this out by Friday.

That is the target date for a new TV purchase.

20 thoughts on “I Came Home and the TV Was Dead

  1. TheRemedy

    Standard only looks bad if you stretch it out, which most people do. Just deal with the bars on the sides and it looks okay imo.


  2. Snick

    Well, you could pop that sucker open, locate the main driver caps and the blown vertical SCR and order replacement parts from Mouser and fix it yourself… and that will still probably run $40-$80, at least and it’s no guarantee. I imagine a shop, if there still is one in your area, would charge at least $200 to repair it.

    It’s probably for the best. The X-rays those old tube models give of is not the healthiest thing to bathe in, not to mention the strain on the eyes to sync on the scan rate.

    But I see your point with watching SD on HD screens. We upgraded for the first time a year ago to a 40″ Samsung HD LCD and sometimes I wonder which is ‘worse’ on the eyes. Seeing the DVD blocking on poorly encoded discs can be real distracting and we still haven’t made the leap to BluRay.


  3. p@tsh@th

    Do not fear change, embrace it.

    For what were purely spacial considerations, we ended up going LCD. Of course, that was after we moved the semi-giant (for us) SD version of the CRT TV we had. Couldn’t give it away.

    You enjoy the movie experience, so now is the time to embrace your dark master. Go LCD. Acquire a surround sound system– 5.1 will suffice, couple it with a device like PS3 (blu-ray and HD netflix streaming) or XBox or even stick with the Wii and a blue ray player and never look back.

    If you’re resourceful, you can put all of these components together for a modest amount. Frankly, I would angle for the component mix that would provide Netflix streaming most cost effectively.

    One of the only reasons I got the PS3 was for blu-ray but with the current Netflix streaming, I hardly hold out for tru-blue ray quality. With Netflix streaming, many offerings include 5.1 digital audio and are more than adequate.

    For those of us that like to explore, its more than adequate.

    For reference, we went with a 40″ LCD, harmon kardon basic surround sound AVR and a PS3 connected via powerline network.

    Add to that the PS3 blu-ray remote and a logitech universal programmable remote and we’ve obtained near entertainment bliss.

    For years I was a “it’s just TV” type until earlthecat revealed the true potential of the budget home theater setup.

    Do it.


  4. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Potshot – The problem is that embracing change to that degree actually costs many dollars. That and the need to make a purchase in the (for me) very short term.


  5. Random Poster

    As was mentioned SD only looks bad if you stretch it. Even then if you go with a 720p set and stretch it. it still doesn’t look bad. If you sit around 6ft from your television you probably won’t even tell a difference between 720p and 1080p (assuming you have an HD signal). That saves you a little more money as well.

    For best picture quality though I would suggest plasma over an LCD, The bad old days where you had to worry about picture burn in are long gone so long as you aren’t silly within the first 3 months and watch one channel with a giant logo for 24+hours. Even then plasmas come with tech that will prevent burn in or even remove it if it’s not permanent. I’ve owned mine now for over 3yrs and have never had a problem with burn in. That said they DO require more power and they put out a good amount of heat.

    TLDR version: If you don’t want to spend the money on HD programming just watch it with the bars on the screen.


  6. James

    For what it’s worth, when my Dad made the switch from standard TV and DVD to HDTV and Blu-ray, we compared prices at both a Sam’s Club and the next door Best Buy. For what we would have to pay for a 42″ HDTV and a Blu-ray player, we would have only gotten a comparable TV at Best Buy. Plus we wouldn’t have to deal with the Comcast rep at Best Buy – and by “deal with” I mean “beat off with a stick.”


  7. coppertopper

    Try and move that baby from its stand all alone without straining your back. Now picture how much better and lighter a $600 42″ flat screen will be for your back and your face. Now go and buy that flatscreen.


  8. Troy Christensen

    I will have to make this decision very soon as well. I have a gloriously old Sony 36″ TV that just keeps humming along.

    I look at all these other sets: Plasma, LCD, and LED and just scratch my head.

    I hope my Sony has another couple of years in her — I don’t watch much TV so I hope I am good.


  9. mbp

    Your post brings me way… back. I remember the days when you actually could improve a TV picture by banging on the side. I even remember one TV we had that relied on a strategically placed grapefruit to provide just enough of a shift in the mass distribution to stop the picture from permanently rolling.

    It is amazing to remember just how much tolerance we had back in those days for pieces of hardware that just did not work as advertised. I suppose we can thank the Japanese adoption of TQM back in the 1980s for the fact that this level of shoddiness is no longer tolerated in the world of hardware at least.

    Sadly the world is still waiting for a software TQM revolution.


  10. Lukas

    This is going to sound like a corporate schill, but I love this TV.

    Last October for our anniversary, my wife and I purchased the 47″ LG LX6500 LED LCD TV from Amazon. We bought the wall mount and she helped me mount it to the wall. If you plan on mounting your TV find out where the studs are in your living room. You can use the stand that comes with it, but we have a 2 year old and thought mounting would be better.

    It looks phenomenal. Go to your local Best Buy and look the LG they have in the HDTV section. When I was there they had a demo going showing the Local Dimming feature. This gives you a near plasma contrast but you get to keep the colors of an LCD.


  11. ScytheNoire

    I’d recommend going with a Panasonic Plasma (they took over Pioneer’s plasma’s), make sure it can do 1080p, some cheaper models can’t.

    Don’t go wasting money on more expensive cable/satellite, just hook the TV up through HDMI to a computer and embrace the internet. Most of the content, shy of live sporting events, can be found in HD out there.


  12. Bri

    I’m certain my 12-year-old 27″ Sanyo TV will live to be a ripe old age, for the sole reason that it’s only on a few hours a week.


  13. SynCaine

    WTF is low def TV? Is that those funny looking channels below the 100 mark with the old-school graphics style, where you can pick out the pixels?

    I would not go all out right now on a setup though, wait the 2-3 years for no glasses 3D sets to become affordable. Just get something decent to hold you over, currently midrange TVs offer some great value.


  14. Cassie

    You know your TV was scanning your house right? Our future overlords now know the exact layout of your living room.

    I, like you, prefer the oldschool tvs. It’s way too complicated these days.


  15. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    I picture myself living this scene soon:

    Me: [gasps] Look at these low, low prices on famous brand-name electronics!

    Daughter: Don’t be a sap, Dad. These are just crappy knock-offs.

    Me: Pfft. I know a genuine Panaphonics when I see it. And look, there’s Magnetbox and Sorny.

    Guy from Best Buy: [walking up] Listen, I’m not going to lie to you. Those are all superior machines. But if you like to watch your TV, and I mean _really_ watch it, you want the Carnivale’.

    It features two-pronged wall plug, pre-molded hand grip well, durable outer casing to prevent fallapart…

    Me: Sold. You wrap it up, I’ll start bringing in the pennies.


  16. Bhagpuss

    We no longer even own a tv. We stopped watching it around 1999-2000, not at all incoincidentally with startign Everquest. We’d scarcely been watching it for a few years before that, though, really.

    For the last dozen years we pretty much watched TV just once a year – Christmas Day – on the one remaining portable set. Last year we got rid of that too. One of our old PCs now sits in its place and this Christmas Day we just watched DVDs and iPlayer tv on that.

    Whether we’ll ever own another tv set I rather doubt.


  17. PeterD

    Even a cheapo modern LCD is going to look better than a 15 year old tube TV. If you’re not picky about having the “best” quality with “perfect” picture, just go do your local Bestbuy/Costco/whatever, browse the display models, and pick one that meets your needs of size, inputs, and price.

    Configure your SD display to have the black bars on the side and the picture quality will be fine. Yes, it will look weird for a little while, but quickly enough your minds will adjust and you won’t even notice it anymore.


  18. Wizardling

    Ha, you should see my TV – an over 15 year old _14″_ :-D I only use it to watch the evening news when I remember to. Otherwise we’re using our far bigger computer screen.


  19. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    My wife banged on the TV hard enough that it started working again. Hopefully it will stay going through the Sharks game tonight and we can work on the new TV situation tomorrow.

    *I* have gone for years without live TV, due to a dispute between me and the cable TV company, enhanced by my legendary grudge holding powers, but I do like to watch movies on a TV while sitting on the couch as opposed to in front of the computer.


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