Television Novelites and Quandries

Janet and I have a new television! (Yes, the wild spending of dough seems to be at flood stage, although we are still awaiting the call from the furnace guy to let us know when he intends to install his particular expensive improvement.) Itʼs a flatscreen, and itʼs not very large. But it is new, and novelty is a good excuse for a post.

Not the new TV, but rather the old new TV, the Sony, that I wound up writing more about

More than two years ago, in June of 2008, we switched from cable service to satellite TV. Having been at the hard-hearted cruelties (thatʼs meant to be a witty inversion of “tender mercies” — a favorite movie of ours by the way, in this year of Crazy Heart, so similar but so very different and also a Robert Duvall project, twenty-five years later) of Mediacom for decades (I recall having their “service” to my little black-and-white TV perched precariously on my desktop, and on which I watched most of the BBC Shakespeare complete series, when I lived in the upstairs apartment on Matteson Street, an era which ended in the summer of 1981, when I met The Lovely One), we finally decided to give change a chance. Anything had to be better.

Yes, we had heard the tales of thick cloudcover or heavy rain (or snowstorms) precluding satellite reception. However, in most of those cases, we usually had problems with Mediacom anyway (they, after all, received most if not all of their signals from satellites to process and transmit along wires to our home). Besides, Janetʼs folks, whom we will see this evening, had satellite service, and they liked it. So change seemed the thing to do. We had made up our minds (probably by the beginning of the year, 2008, thanks to the Shrubsʼ deletion of analog broadcasting in the United States).

We finally did something about our resolution when our old TV died. We had bought it in 1982 when the Sixties piece of furniture Janet had received from her parents met its demise, so the official antique (they keep telling me anything that is twenty-five years old qualifies) had done its duty and gone beyond. (I think we set the old thing at the end of the driveway for mysterious passers-by to take for free, and it worked!) So we had to get a new television set or give up watching TV, God forbid. We made the predictable choice.

Like every other American consumer, we trudged off to our nearby box stores to see what was what. We were unsavvy enough to realize that we would probably be moving up to a flatscreen television (if thatʼs really “moving up”), assuming we could afford such a thing. After some brief investigations — beginning I believe at our local Wal-Mart, ironically, and including visits to Cedar Rapids and Davenport and conversations with the Nortons — we ended up at the Best Buy store in Dubuque, where we settled, because I had such love for their Trinitron tubes, on a Sony model (not as big as the guys really thought we should buy, but larger than anything we had ever owned or watched) with what looked like a good, sharp picture in the store (although I still have no idea if Sony is really reputable in these new technologies of flatscreens). In completing the transaction, not only did we acquire a new credit card (all the better to disperse that pretty large cost over twelve months interest-free, as I later did with this computer through Apple) but this purchase qualified us for a decent reduction on DirecTV satellite service prices, if we signed up through the store as new subscribers. So we did.

On our anniversary, we had plans to eat out elegantly in Galena (at the Perry Street Brasserie, a great if really expensive restaurant), and unwisely picked up the television that day, which I had then to stuff into the storage space behind the seats so it would be “safe” while we ate our celebratory dinner in Illinois. Although Janet had made me spring for the additional expense of Geek Squad* service to hook up the new TV once the satellites had been installed, I did get the behemoth out of its box and onto its stand (and onto the new TV stand we had also bought on clearance) and attached correctly to the cable until the satellite guy could arrive, about two weeks later.

The new TV, a 19" Magnavox

We had noticed at the store then that a small flatscreen was going to run us considerably over two hundred bucks, if we ever chose to replace our bedroom monitor. What we bought when the time arrived last weekend came in about a hundred dollars less than those models had listed.

We needed a new TV in the bedroom because I gave ours away to the Dubuque Museum of Art so they could use it in an installation (the how and why for that donation is part of another story that I will tell you later). Janet delivered the antique (almost as old s the big one that died back in 2008) to its new owners last Friday, and on Sunday she had us out shopping in Davenport. Actually, we had started on Saturday by checking out what was available for how much at Wal-Mart, when we dropped off my new prescriptions. Of course, we recognized none of the brand names there or at any of the other places we wound up looking (although we did discover that little TVs at least run about ten bucks less in Davenport than they do in Maquoketa). We finally went for a Magnavox (and we donʼt even know if that hoary old brand has any valid reputation in the world of LCD or not), but its picture looked good at Samʼs Club and still does at home.

Now the only issue is that we may or may not need to upgrade the satellite box in the bedroom. The old analog TV didnʼt need a digital connection. The new one shows the picture just fine, just smaller (and squarer) than the digital image would be. Hmmmm… to spend more money or not… Or to finally use the opportunity of the converter upgrade to cancel the overly expensive movie channels that we still have in our subscription but donʼt watch because those channels really donʼt run good, interesting films …

Food for thought. And some day, action.

* Actually, we didnʼt get the Geek Squad back in 2008 (although we had done so for her laptop computer a few years earlier, the successful purchase of which is probably what drove us toward Best Buy for the big TV). The satellite installer handled a complete, free hook-up (including all our extra devices, such as VCRs and DVD players).

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

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