Friday, February 09, 2007

Plasma TV Money Pit - The Sequel

The plasma TV did arrive on schedule, as promised, no surprises there.

No surprises until they brought it inside and started to "hook it up" and then give us our "15 minutes of instruction" on how to use it. This was a real fun treat as the "trainer" didn't speak very good broken-English and had no clue how to make the remote and TV all work properly with our cable box which surprising as it's the dominant cable provider in our area.

Luckily I've wired up just about every TV configuration known to mankind and programmed dozens of remotes, so after the INS (working on an anonymous tip) came and collected the delivery men, I got busy getting the system to work together.

OK, we didn't call the INS, but I can dream after being left holding the bag with a TV that they were supposed to connect and show us how to use, can't I?

Now we're having a battle of the remotes and it went from one remote that ran all our gear flawlessly on the old TV to needing 3 remotes just because a couple of special features on each device aren't universal. For instance, I can't seem to get the cable remote to adjust the surround sound volume, it always resorts back to the TV volume regardless of the device selected. Then there's the little issue of the plasma TV aspect ratio, which the cable remote doesn't appear to have when driving the TV. Then of course there are some things the cable DVR remote does that doesn't seem to work on the plasma or surround system remotes. Of course it's possible there's some other codes or crap to feed into the remote that resolve some of this nonsense so perhaps after a little research I'll have more answers.

However, I think it's all a bunch of bullshit, that's what it is.

All these companies that build all these TV components and remotes know exactly what the fuck their customers will be doing with them, there's no surprises here, unless you're the consumer that buys all this shit just to find out you're fucked in the ass yet again. I feel like the girl in the porn video getting double penetration, but since I'm using 3 remotes, it's triple penetration.

The other thing that pisses me off is all of the channels that claim to be HDTV yet put out a 4:3 signal with colorful borders on the side. Sure, it's an HD signal, looks really pretty and all that, but do I really need to see ESPN with the letters "HD" running up both sides of my fucking television?

Then there's the major networks that broadcast full screen HD programs yet the commercials and news are in 4:3 format and you're just sitting there watching this fucking thing bounce back and forth all night until you're about ready to fucking scream.

Drinking helps.

Don't forget those lovely cable movie channels I pay for like HBO and Showtime which have a bunch of channels but only one HDTV channel per brand on Comcast.

Last but not least, we have to mention some of the cable channels that look like complete shit on HDTV and should just be ashamed of themselves.

On the bright side, UHD (Universal's HD channel) showed a preview of the new season of Stargate Atlantis in full blown 1080i and it was absolutely gorgeous.

Now the part you wouldn't expect at all, my Comcast dual-tuner DVR and the HDTV channels have aspect ratio problems with each other. For instance, you're watch Grey's Anatomy in full screen mode and hit pause, there's a little box on the bottom of the DVR status bar that goes off screen. Additionally, if you check the Comcast TV Guide while in full screen mode it chops off some from the top and bottom of the TV Guide because it doesn't know what mode you're in. The two devices, the TV and the DVR, and out of synch and it's damned annoying but you just get used to having a partially hacked off TV Guide on your screen.

Come on all you HD promoting asshats out there, get with the program and fix your shit!

My advice for people that rarely watch DVD's, cable movie channels (HBO, SHO) or regular network TV programming (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX), would be to skip HDTV as you're just throwing money down the crapper to watch a grainy signal on a big bright TV screen. However, if you watch all those things also available in HDTV on a regular basis, like I do, you'll enjoy it immensely and wonder what took you so long to get on the HDTV bandwagon!

Overall I give HDTV a big thumbs up, but the TV industry still has room to improve.