My HDTV says “Peace out!”…goodbye my friend…
July 1, 2009

Such a sad sight....awaiting recycling...or repair? Is that possible?

Such a sad sight....awaiting recycling...or repair? Is that possible?

There was a little mourning in our house yesterday…our 37″ Polaroid HDTV, which was only about 5 years old, finally said, “Peace out” yesterday. Honestly, it didn’t come as a terrible shock…it had been unwell for some time. When our son was home earlier this year at Easter, he looked at our tv….he has one just like it…(we bought two, years ago at a big C-Mart sale-still miss you C-Mart)….and said, “You guys really need a new tv!”  What inspired the comment was the fact that it had a big dark “bruise” down the right side of the screen(from where I don’t know) that  yes, had gotten a little bigger over time, but honestly, it  didn’t really bother me that much, and hey… when it was a nighttime scene, you didn’t see it at all! But it wasn’t the bruise that was the demise of our electronic buddy….my tv guru at work, Howard Melnick told me our tv’s “warmer upper”(he called it something else but you get the idea), the thing that keeps a set warm enough to come on immediately when you want to watch it, was broken. We had learned not to turn the tv off-off… could turn the system off to save a little electricity, but not the set itself. If you walked in and it was a dark screen, not a blue one, you knew what you were in for. A 15 minute(and it got longer as time went on) stretch of having to repeatedly turn the tv on. Each time it would start to come on, it would immediately turn itself back off, in a huff it seemed. “Oh, I wasn’t good enough for you last night? Well, I don’t feel like being stared at this morning, so take that, lady!” This could go on for some time, but when it finally warmed up a little, then it would go into some sort of digital hell, with the picture doing all sorts of crazy digital things and making a truly hideous screeching noise. I learned to avoid the screeching by muting  the tv and just listening through sound system. And even when it working well picture wise(not including the bruise of course), if it wasn’t on “mute”, you would hear a snap, crackle pop sound like it had a bowl of Rice Krispies in there. Honestly this tv was just…peculiar and became more so over time.

So, yesterday morning, we discovered we had a power outage  during the night. That turned our tempermental tv OFF. And this time…this time…15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes of repeatedly turning the set back on did no good at all. My daughter tried it for an hour during the day(that’s true desperation)…so last night(because of course, no one can survive a night without their tv), we trudged off to Sam’s Club and then to Best Buy, not just look at sets. No way. We were bringing one of those babies HOME WITH US.

Final choice...40 Samsung!

Final choice...40" Samsung!

We had established the guidelines before setting out. No tv over 42 inches would even be considered. Yes, I know, I know… you guys out there with your 52 inch, 72 inch behemoths towering over everything in the room…not for me…I mean it’s just too much tv unless you’re in a HUGE room.  And here’s the truth…. in Sam’s Club, a 37 inch television  like we had before, looked positively puny. My daughter kept saying “It looks so tiny…it’s pathetic!” I kept reminding her that the room our tv inhabits is a  smaller than the Sam’s Club by several hundred thousand square feet….that it wouldn’t look tiny in our house.

So we cruised down seeminly endless aisles of tvs that looked almost identical.  Big rectangular hunks of gleaming black plastic with pretty pictures in the frame. And the stores don’t miss a trick….it’s clever putting on outdoor programming …I’ve always thought that’s where HD really shines. Golf, nature shots, a football game….just gorgeous in high definition.

Final decision? A Samsung 40 inch set….not the least expensive, but my Father-in-law had given us the sage advice to “Get a Samsung…that Samsung makes a good tv“. And of the 3 finalists we were considering, the sales guy at Best Buy said, he would pick the Samsung. So, we bought it. It has some ridiculously high contrast ratio like 60,000 to one…whatever that means.

My daughter and I carried it in(the hubby has a hurt ankle which got him out of physical duty and I think dampened his ardor for a larger tv…pain rendered him more malleable in this regard)…and a relatively small amount of consternation about what plug goes where later(guru Howie who helped put in our first HDTV had made this considerably easier by labeling all the plugs about what letter they were-thanks Howard), and voila, we are watching a lovely lovely new HDTV with sharp colors and crisp definition.   So, it’s all good… except for the AMEX bill that comes sailing in a monthfrom now….yeah, there’s that. But sometimes you just gotta pay the piper, or in this case, Best Buy.

Life in High Definition….
January 5, 2009

There has been much anticipation about the debut of HD here at WBAL-TV…lots of hard work by many people , especially those who work behind the scenes(what else is new?)…long and frequent practice sessions to work the new equipment….after all, it’s not just flipping a switch and everyone does everything just like they did before. I’d explain more about it, but honestly, I don’t understand it. But everything is new and different, OK? Everything. And that takes some getting used to.

Our first broadcast was Saturday night after that fabulous overtime playoff game on NBC (yes, I was bummed at first about the OT thing, but it was a great game)….and who was in the shotgun seat? That’s right, your truly. I thought I’d feel more nervous than I did….but everything went off pretty much without a hitch. Or if there was one, I didn’t see it. But I think I speak for everyone who works in front of the camera, when I say there is a huge collective sense of relief that things are gonna be ok….that we will look ok…maybe better….and there is life after HD. Just breathe.

And for those of you (and there are lots) who don’t have HD, it ain’t no big deal. But when you do get a new set, you’ll see what I mean. My good friend Clare who you may remember from the head shaving post, just got a new tv and cable! She laughingly told me, “We were those people you guys are talking about having rabbit ears and an old set!!” But not anymore…they too, have entered the high def era. At last. So for those of you who are not yet there, we’ll be here waiting for you when you do. And when you do get your set hooked up and the HD signal in…I hope you see something spectacular, like I did when mine was first connected a couple of years ago…the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. Wow. I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. Now, I’m quite the HD snob. It hurts me…physically hurts me to watch a football game notin HD. Sad, isn’t it?

And to those of you who have written in saying we look nice in HD…thanks, from the bottom of my insecure little heart.

(NOTE: You can learn more about our HD set and view photos by going here.