Sunday, 7 February 2010

Sound and vision

The other week we were forced to replace our old, faithful TV with a new one. And I don't know about you, but a month or so after Christmas, when the bank account is hardly at its healthiest, is probably not the best time to be having to shell out a few hundred quid on consumer electronics.

In fact I'm certain there is a rule, or perhaps it's a law, about things like this. And it goes: "You will be most likely to be forced to spend a large amount of money on something when you are least likely to be able to afford it."

However, the old TV had been playing up for a while. Randomly it would switch itself off, wait a few seconds (normally giving us enough time to get up and start walking towards it) and then come back on again, as if to say: "Whoa there people! Sit back down again. Nothing to worry about." Then it would do it again a few minutes later.

For a while we accepted this. Or rather, we didn't accept it, but realised that replacing a TV was not an easy option. But matters came to a head when Katie was watching CSI: New York and had several shots of Carmine Giovinazzo with his shirt off interrupted by the cathode ray shenanigans.

This, she said, will not stand. Although if I remember correctly, other words may have been used at the time. You don't get in the way of her Danny Messer fantasies without coming off second-best. I know this to be true. The old TV was as good as toast.

So then we were plunged into a world of questions. Full HD or HD ready? What refresh rate do we need? Does 100hz do the trick? 1080p 16/9 display? HDMI input?

This made our eventual televisual purchase, made from Sainsburys of all places, while doing the weekly foodshop, or the more likely to make the techno-purists among you put your hands up to your faces like the figure in Munch's Scream painting. I know, but it was a brand I'd actually heard of. The numbers and letters on the box looked vaguely impressive. It was discounted by £250. And just think of the Nectar points.

So now I have this big, shiny black panel in my living room. At 40 inches, I have to admit it's a little over the top. If I'm honest, watching Deal or No Deal on the domestic equivalent of an Imax screen is not what I had in mind. But it's equally striking when switched off.

If I come downstairs at night to get a glass of water, I can't see it, but I can sense its presence. A large rectangle, starless and bible black. It's a little unnerving, this monolith; I feel like one of those apes in the opening sequences of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

All I need is for my computer to start talking to me and I will officially be freaked out.

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