See the Big Picture? Don't Forget to Examine the Fine Print

  1. Humor here. There's a very, very old joke with regards to "manhood":

    The size of a man's pick-up truck is in inverse proportion to the size of his. . . .

    I think you get the picture!

    Of course you realize that I do NOT own a pick-up truck!

    But then I've heard the above joke applied to other items as well, like guns, lawn mowers, computers. . .

    Computers?? I have two of them! And they're both "loaded" with lots of RAM and hard disk drives and thousands of dollars of software! (Soft?? Did I write the word, "soft"??? Real men don't like that word! )

    Oh well. . . :imbar

    Well I guess you can add "television sets" as items that can be used for the above joke! In particular, those big, high-definition television sets that, according to this article, may not be such a hot item to purchase now afterall! (Say it isn't so!)

    But don't worry, gals. Men will be true to form. After all, you know where our brains are kept!


    See the Big Picture? Don't Forget to Examine the Fine Print


    Published: May 2, 2004

    AMERICAN manhood is at a serious crossroads.

    Said manhood - that quality that causes mostly normal people to make impulse purchases in the electrical tape aisle of Home Depot - now faces an epic consumer dilemma: whether or not to run out immediately and buy a high-definition, flat-panel television. Or, put another way, is it wiser to spend what could be more than $5,000 on a technology with major kinks, or to wait a year or so, and risk not just falling behind the Joneses, but allowing the Joneses to invite everyone over to their house to watch the National Basketball Association playoffs?

    When it comes to technology, consumers often must decide between buying when something is new and cool, or waiting a year or two until the engineers turn the schematics right side up and make the gadget actually work to its full potential.

    But the stakes have been raised with flat-panel televisions, which are flooding the market and dominating the Sunday newspaper advertising pullouts. The new televisions are expensive: at $3,000 to $9,000, the flat-panel models are not priced like your grandfather's television, or even his car.

    Plus, these flat-panel sets - which come in two main technological versions, liquid crystal display and plasma - have a dirty little secret. In certain respects, both are inferior to the fatter, far less expensive, soon-to-be-orphaned televisions that dominate the family rooms of America.

    In fact, they are inferior in perhaps the most critical respect of all - for most of the shows that are being broadcast today, they deliver a smaller picture than advertised and one that can be fuzzier than the picture displayed by older models.

    That is because the new televisions are engineered primarily to show high-definition programs, which are shot in a digital format. But most television shows are still shot and delivered in an analog format, and such images can seem distorted and out of focus on flat-panel models, particularly when the image is shown in the wide-screen format.

    Based on that factor alone, diving into the flat-panel market now would seem grossly unwise, like buying a great-looking car with shoddy brakes, or trading in an 18-inch, all-meat hero sandwich for something smaller in a pita with a side salad. Sad, really.

    Still, several factors highly recommend the new technology. The televisions are sleek and space-saving - some are a mere four inches thick (compared to nearly two feet for many of the old sets). And for DVD movies and those shows that are shot digitally - including a growing number of the most popular network television shows - the image quality is spectacular, like having an Imax theater in the den.

    Then there is the intangible - the salivation factor.

    "I come here to drool," said Dave Whitman, 30. Mr. Whitman, a computer system administrator, stood in a Best Buy store in downtown San Francisco recently, staring at a 50-inch Pioneer high-definition television like Homer Simpson eyeing a jelly doughnut. Mr. Whitman cannot afford to buy yet.

    The flat-panel television seems to have captured the imaginations of many, but most of all the American man. To test this theory, stand at a cocktail party and whisper softly, "I just bought a flat-panel TV," and watch as admirers form a circle of testosterone and demand details.

    Lars E. Perner, an assistant professor of marketing at San Diego State University and a specialist in consumer behavior, said the new televisions appeared to appeal to people who like sports, which can be transfixing on the big screen, and to people who love to consider, discuss and ruminate over such things as pixels, display ratios and other technical minutiae.

    "There are so many variables to talk about, so many technical specifications - like how many inches it is," Mr. Perner said. Calling Dr. Freud. We've got a code blue.

    Here are a few questions to ask when balancing your rational consumer side with the part of you that, at the behest of friends, once drank a 12-pack of beer, then ran circles around the university quad in boxer shorts, and found the experience pretty darn rewarding.

    What's the viewing size? The size of a television screen is measured on the diagonal. The default image on a flat-panel television is wide screen, which shows the image on a width-to-height ratio of 16 to 9. In technical terms, this is known as an aspect ratio.

    But you may want to reduce the image size when watching regular (analog) television signals. They are best displayed in an aspect ratio of four to three, which means you must reduce the size of the viewable image considerably from the wide-screen format.

    For instance, a 30-inch screen becomes a roughly 23-inch screen when the image is put at a size that works best for analog programming.

    How do analog images look? Electronics stores are masters at putting a flat-panel television in its most flattering light. They fill walls of flat-panel televisions with vibrant high-definition images of sporting events, the movie "Finding Nemo," or nature shows so vivid it seems you can reach out and touch the Serengeti. For whatever reason, electronics stores are obsessed with displaying nature shows.

    Do not be fooled. Objects in the Serengeti may be less clear in your family room than they appear in the store. Ask the sales clerk to switch to an analog show. Make sure that it does not look too distorted on the wide screen, or too fuzzy in the smaller format.

    At the Best Buy in San Francisco, a salesman who, citing corporate policy, asked not to be named, confessed that analog images had a tendency to be less than clear.

    A Circuit City outlet in San Francisco was not even set up to show analog images. A salesman asserted that the only available feeds were for high-definition shows.

    What is the TV's life span? Plasma televisions have a drawback known as burn-in. That means that static images can, over time, burn an image onto the screen. This is a particular problem if users often reduce the screen to a ratio of four to three to watch analog shows. Eventually, black bars appear on the screen's edges.

    Also, the pixels that make up the images on a plasma screen dissipate over time. Estimates vary widely about how long a plasma screen can last, from 10,000 to 30,000 viewing hours. The liquid crystal display televisions are thought to have a longer life span, perhaps as much as 75,000 hours. They also do not have the problem of burn-in.

    What do you like to watch? Traditional broadcast networks, like CBS and ABC, are making a growing number of shows available in the digital format. Cable offers fewer high-definition signals, but there are some good ones, including programming from HBO, Showtime and ESPN. Over all, it is worth checking how many high-definition channels are available, whether from cable and satellite providers or the free public airwaves.

    How about hidden costs? There are considerations that go along with buying a flat-panel television, such as buying a several-hundred-dollar stand to put it on. If you want the set mounted on the wall, installation can cost more than $500. Also, depending on what kind of set you buy, you will probably need to pay for a receiver to deliver the high-definition signal to your television. The cost varies among television-service providers.

    Do you really want to read any more admonitions? Of course not. Buying a flat-panel television is not an entirely a rational decision. You don't want pointers. You want to buy something awesome. You are the man! So do it. Get out there. And remember, before you go to the store, drink a 12-pack of beer, strip down to your boxer shorts and start running in circles.
    Last edit by Ted on May 2, '04
  2. 5 Comments

  3. by   nightingale
    lol Ted...
  4. by   Ted
    Glad you got a little chuckle, nightingale!

    I was wondering if anyone was going to respond to this thread. Many times my threads just seem to gently drop to the bottom of this forum. Take, for example, the thread about Russians and their opinions of the "Barbie Doll" image. It's already 1/3 of the way down the page, already. It's slowly sinking ever more deeper into the bowels of this forum.

    Falling. . .
    Falling. . .
    Falling. . .

  5. by   SmilingBluEyes
    BWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !

    gonna share this with my dh .....

    who just HAPPENS to own a DODGE RAM 4X4. rofl. Love it Ted!!!
  6. by   pickledpepperRN
    A man working at the hospital played college basketball.
    He just asked, "Know what it means when a man has big feet and big hands?"
  7. by   Ted

    Very funny, Spacenurse! :chuckle

    And I thought this thread was going to sink deep into the bowels of this forum!