Tuesday, March 5, 2019

To TV Purgatory and Back

In the good old days you went to a store – a department store, an appliance store, general or hardware store - and chose a TV from models displayed. Unlike the myriad choices today, the number featured was finite. You selected a TV, paid for it, took it home, placed it on a table or piece of furniture designed for a TV and – here’s the clincher– plugged it in, turned it on, settled onto a comfy couch and began viewing favorite shows. 

That was it. Buy it, pay for it, take it home, plug it in, sit back and watch. Until you might have to get up and change channels. But that was a really long time ago...

Things have changed. 

Hub and I were not eager to buy a new TV. The fact that our kids and grandkids made fun of our 10-year-old set did not bother us. The fact that it was small by modern standards was OK with us. The fact that it was not smart and did not have HD capabilities did not trouble us. 

We realized a larger screen would be nice on our eyes, which are not as sharp as years ago. A clearer picture would be advantageous also. The price did not deter us, prices starting at a couple of hundred dollars. Or, in our blissful ignorance so we thought before finding out about required extras. 

It was the buying process we were reluctant to face, asking questions about things we knew very little about and not entirely understanding the answers. But one cold wintery afternoon we threw on our coats, hats and gloves and drove a half hour to the nearest electronics store, Best Buy.

Entering the cavernous building screens large and small confronted us. TV screens, computer screens, phone screens, screens on gadgets unfamiliar to me. 

We strolled to the back of the store and perused TVs. Different models, different prices, various sizes, descriptions in small print on tags beneath each one. HD, HDCP, 4K, HDMI, HDR, LED, LCD, OLED...My mind froze. 

It was not easy finding a store employee to help us, but eventually succeeded. Our specifications were simple: a TV that fit on the small table in the corner of our family room. Bigger than our 32” current TV, but not overwhelming for the cozy-sized room. (We have no suitable wall to hang a TV on.)

We did not have many choices. The employee found an appropriate model in a catalog: a Toshiba 50”. We were eager to complete the transaction and return home.

Not so quick or easy.

Do you want a sound bar? the salesman asked. Unless we want to sit behind the TV, where the sound mechanism is, it would be helpful, especially for seniors whose hearing is no longer cutting edge. We turned down a service contract. Added a DVD. Our old one died last fall. We ordered the TV for delivery. With installation. Additional costs, of course. No way could hub or I face the task of installing on our own.

Suddenly our reasonably-priced TV cost over $700.

Saturday afternoon the Best Buy Geek walks into our house with boxes containing our new TV, sound bar, DVD, and an assortment of wires.

Nothing nowadays proceeds glitch-free. Minor problems: Our fast internet signal did not reach the TV, only the slow service. I didn’t know there were two levels, but we learn something every day. The table we thought the TV would fit on turned out to be too small. Our Comcast box did not have HD capability. 

While the geek and hub installed the TV, hooking wires together and programming the set, I contacted Comcast about upgrading to HD service. This I accomplished via an online chat. The individual I discoursed with had difficulty spelling words correctly and keyed very, very, very slowly, but I finally completed my mission. For an additional $10 a month we were now HD-connected. It would cost $70 for a company man to come to the house and install a new box. Returning the old one to a store, receiving a new one and installing it ourselves – no charge.

When the geek finished installing the TV, sound box and assorted gadgets (including 4 – FOUR remotes), hub and I drove a half hour (again) to the nearest Comcast (actually Xfinity) store, returned the old box and received a new one. Before leaving I complained about our bill – too high, now going higher.

The lovely customer service rep took a few moments, “to see what I can do,” and our bill is now $30 LOWER than before.  

We returned home and hub connected our new box.

I am proud to announce I can turn our new TV on!

I can choose shows offered on Netflix and Amazon (thanks to our son) as well as Comcast. 

I can watch shows my friends talk about but previously could not indulge in viewing. I can join the conversation!

I am in binge-watching heaven!

1 comment:

  1. Today, it seems, everything offers more choices, but is also more complicated and more expensive. But hey, now you can binge watch!