Saturday, August 23, 2008

electronics: LCD TV

I wrote way back in April
Meanwhile, I've only 10 days to buy a TV, a surround system, a PS3, and umpteen cables, to play GTA IV.
Indeed, on the day of the Grand Theft Auto IV midnight launch I finally got an LCD TV and disconnected the Sony Trinitron.old Sony Trinitron, new Samsung in box with PS3I had held off for years watching the never-ending procession of must-have features that has kept the price of a high-end TV above $3000: 720p, 1080i, 1080p, CCFL backlight, LED backlight, low millisecond response, DVI input, HDMI input, 120 Hz refresh, OLED...

Actually buying one was straightforward: Best Buy offered a reasonable Samsung LN40A550 TV with a PS3 and installation for $1599, so I bought the package without bothering to go through the heck of comparing TVs. You don't need 1080 resolution at the distance we sit from the TV, but they didn't have a similar deal on a 720p TV. Best Buy agreed to swap the free installation for free TV calibration, but it took two salesmen 30 minutes of wrestling with their sales computer to print the receipt. I think that wore Chris and Glenn out: I was prepared to fight the hard sell of a service contract and overpriced cables, but it never happened.

Set up was easy, just plug in and go. The TV works fine, no bad pixels. I don't even know which of those fancy features it has (I'm a audiophile, not videophile). The picture looked fine from the start and looks slightly better (softer and warmer) after the Geek Squad finally scheduled a guy to calibrate the TV.

I briefly considered the surround sound part. Best Buy had two stacks of surround-sound receivers, each with a hundred connectors on the back but obviously lightweight construction, and none hooked up to speakers. If and when I ever get surround sound I'll get Magnepan surrounds and center speaker, probably with a semi-audiophile receiver from Integra, NAD, or Rotel.

Plugging in a laptop VGA cable gives you a fantastic 1080x1920 desktop with only the slightest ghosting. So I should be copyright infringing TV shows and movies and surfing YouTube on the laptop while hooked up to the TV. But even though the TV is a computer (Samsung offers Linux source code for it) and a set-top box is another computer, watching TV in the living room doesn't fit with a PC.

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