Wednesday, April 05, 2006

In which we discovered that TV is still just TV
Or, the revolution won't be televised in our house.

One of the first major purchases my wife and I made back when we had disposable income was a HUGE TV. The screen was 6 feet across and about 5 1/2 foot tall. (The distance of your outstretched arms equals your height - and I was able to just get my fingertips around each side, and I'm 6 foot even.) It even had built-in surround sound, something I had been lusting for since it was available in the home.

The shaved gorillas who delivered the thing to our tiny 4th floor apartment nearly passed out with exertion from the effort. The floor itself seemed to bow where it stood.

And there it was, reminiscent of that scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey when the people in chimp costumes happened upon the monolith. We turned it on. There was great rejoicing and, yea, much surfing.

The next day my wife and I sat slumped on our futon couch, eyes lifted to the radiant glow of the garage-door-sized screen.

"I hate this thing," I said.

"What a relief!" said my wife, "I can't stand it either."

The morose gorillas came the next day and dragged it away. It was as if a munchkin-like woman with a beehive 'doo had pronounced our house clean.

The moral of the story was that TV is still just TV no matter how large it is.

Yes, I would love the option of having a home theatre projector for watching movies, especially wide screen movies. But I do not want to have to again face the visage of a TV news anchor or even any of the Friends expanded to cinematic heights. Particularly when I'll be able to see each and every pore.

Movies are simply framed differently than TV fare, too. One great example is a scene in Never Cry Wolf where Our Hero is chasing a dog sled across the frozen wasteland. They are practically specs in the distance, which looks great on a big screen. TV shows are mostly close-ups and medium shots. Watching that kind of content on a big screen gets me kinda swimmy.

Nonetheless, TV manufacturers want very much for us to lay down thousands of dollars on HDTVs. They've even gotten laws passed that broadcast signals for standard TV will cease in 2009, and we will need an HDTV or some device that will decode the signal for our old TVs. (Apparently cable and satellite users don't have to worry, they will kindly provide both (all?) kinds of signals.)

Well, fine.

But, I gotta tell ya, I've seen these HDTVs in stores everywhere now, and they really don't look that much better than the TVs I already have. Yes, I've seen them with HDTV content, too. They certainly aren't worth thousands of dollars.

My reaction, though, was much like it was to the huge TV. It's still just TV. Nothing will change that, I imagine.


Sya said...

Yeah, huge TVs are a bit grotesque. The only stuff I watch on TV are news and documentaries and even that, I could look up on the internet. If I wanted the surround sound and large screens, I'd go to the movie theater, even if the content is a little different than TV shows.

Anonymous said...

Yahm, HDTV's don't have to be huge. I, myself, own an HDTV with a 30" screen. A sharp, clear picture that doesn't dominate my living room. And it wasn't even that expensive.

Anonymous said...

Also, I'm afraid I have to nitpik one of your statements:

"The distance of your outstretched arms equals your height - and I was able to just get my fingertips around each side, and I'm 6 foot even."

We rock climbers like to talk about our "ape index", the difference between wingspan and height. I have a negative ape index: I'm exactly 6' tall, but my wingspan is 5'10". (This is why I will never be a world-class climber.) My friend Brian, who is exactly my height, has a 6'4" wingspan, or what we would call "plus four ape index". The current Sports Illustrated mentions that a certain football player is 6'6" but has a 7'3" wingspan. Plus nine ape index.

There. I feel better now.

Yahmdallah said...

RE: the "ape index" - good to know!

RE: Size of HDTVs - yes, agreed. My point was that any size TV that's HDTV won't make the content seem any better.