A New Vast Wasteland

TelevisionFor a year, our television’s picture has grown gradually more distorted at the top edge, such that the head of anyone who appears on it seems elongated and unnaturally tall — my friends call it the ‘conehead effect.’ I would’ve liked to have replaced it sooner, especially given that it’s often difficult to make out who’s winning a ball game if a network — like say Fox Sports — chooses to display the score horizontally, at the top of the screen; our aging, fake-wood paneled idiot box would cut off most of the runs, outs and innings at the top.

The final straw came on Friday evening, when the picture moved even further north, and left behind fully two-inches of unused black space along the bottom. I fiddled with it a little bit, then left it alone for the evening as we went to dinner. Saturday morning it showed the same result, and I finally felt justified in buying a new set.

Shop Right

For a Manhattan apartment, a plasma screen television would have been ideal, but the cost of such a unit is still inflated with an unspoken tax on early adopters. I can’t bring myself to spend over US$2,000 on something that I shouldn’t really even be watching that much anyway. Besides, it’s hard to make the case for such a lavish expenditure when a 27-inch television — even a so-called ‘flat screen’ model — costs just over US$300. It’s not a trivial amount of money, but it wasn’t such a large amount that I felt I was making a decade-long commitment either. Five years from now, when a 30-inch plasma screen costs US$800, I’ll be ready to buy one.

In the meantime, I did about ten minutes’ worth of research on the internet, then headed over to the Circuit City to buy a 27-inch Panasonic CT27SL14. I chose it for no other reason than that, though its 20-inch depth is average, the tube hangs over the back, leaving a very small actual footprint. This is ideal for the makeshift television bench I’d assembled from my custom-made shelves, and on which our television always sat precariously.

Craig Comes Through

The TV itself wouldn’t be huge, but I knew the box of every television accounts for almost twice the unit’s volume, so I worried about how to get it home without some sort of large vehicle. A friend of mine suggested Craig’s List, which hadn’t occurred to me but it made perfect sense. Within five minutes I had found an independent mover — basically a young guy with a beat-up pick-up truck who had gone into business for himself — who agreed to meet me at Union Square to drive the TV back to the apartment for US$25. He even helped me move it up into the apartment and offered to help me move the old TV to the curb.

Within twenty minutes, I had the new television out of the box and set up successfully. The very first time I turned it on, it worked, with no buttons to push nor settings to alter. It made me think that the PC industry has really corrupted the whole idea of ‘plug ’n’ play.’ I realized, though, that the ease with which I replaced the old television with a brand new unit was directly proportional to the satisfaction I felt after the new TV was in place; it was practically anti-climactic. It’s just television, after all.


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