Friday, January 30, 2009

My new favorite room...

So last night after returning home, we made a couple of side trips, to obtain the last of the components which would be required to set up our new TV. This behemoth was going in the bedroom, at the foot of our king sized bed. All we needed was a Roger's HDTV box and 2 sets of HDMI cables. I also splurged on an RCA flush mount power box with built-in surge suppression.

The TV itself is a 46" Toshiba Regza LCD Flat-Panel HDTV (46RV535U), 60Hz and 1080p resolution. We shopped around quite a bit before finally settling on this one. There are so many makes and models out there, but in the end it all comes down to picture resolution. There are plasma and LCD to choose from, 60Hz vs 120Hz and then there's the matter of size. We wanted the best of both worlds. We went with the LCD because of the flat-panel screen with no glare. Plasma TVs are heavier as they have that big pane of thick glass on the front, which can also create glare when it's struck by a light source.

The difference between a 60Hz and a 120Hz picture, despite the elaborate and misleading in-store video representations of this, is negligeable. Realistically though, it will mean paying $500.00 - $700.00 more in the price of your TV if you go with a 120Hz model. Oh... and you get to brag that your TV is a 120Hz model. When we bought the TV we also snagged a Samsung Blu-Ray DVD player (the BDP1500 model), as these days you can't really justify having one without the other. I began by setting up the Blu-Ray player on one end of the dresser and the Rogers box on the other. I left the centre section clear for the TV.

I have no doubt that very shortly, ancillary components such as Blu-Ray players, cable boxes and things of the like, will come totally without cables of any type. Perhaps at some point, they will become integral to the TV unit itself. But in the meantime, the advent of HDMI cables is a vast improvement over S-Cables and AVI component wiring. For the uninitiated, they carry both audio and video signals in one simple cable.

If you purchase your cables at a store like, say... Future Shop or Best Buy, you can expect to be raped for the price you will pay for a set of these lovely cables. In truth the price varies according to the length and the amount of 'bling' that you want. You can expect to pay anywhere from $54.00 to $275.00 for one cable. Seriously... I'm not lying. Speaking from a purely technical point, the only difference between the less expensive ones and the really, really expensive ones is bragging rights. That's it!!

Now... if you were to go to someplace reasonable like Wal-Mart, you can get perfectly good Phillips HDMI cables for all of $24.95 each and believe me, they work just great. Anyone who tells you different is a lying sonofabitch who is either selling them, doesn't know squat about electronics, or is one of those people who paid way too much for his cables and doesn't want people to realize what a jerk he is for having done so.

So... the hookup consisted of connecting the power cords to the power box, the cable to the 'IN' port on the Rogers box, one HDMI cable from the Blu-Ray player to the TV (HDMI 1) and one HDMI cable from the Rogers box to the TV (HDMI 0). There are still 2 HDMI input ports available on the TV.
That's it... All done. No bag of snakes as far as wiring goes.

I spent literally the better part of a half an hour waiting for someone on the Rogers line to take my call, so we could get the HDTV box activated. I could have set up a half-dozen TVs in that time, easily. Finally, I was connected to one of their reps and provided him with our account info and the box's serial number. He assured me (as they all do...) that the illuminated dash marks on my Rogers box would be replaced with the correct time, a sign the box had indeed been activated, within the next 10-20 minutes. "Thank you for calling Rogers and have a great evening...", he finished off.

I informed my spouse of our status and suggested that while we waited for the cable to be available, we might view one of the 3 free Blu-Ray videos we had received with the TV, just to see how it looked. Our choices were 'I, Robot', 'The Devil Wears Prada' and 'Kingdom of Heaven'. We settled on I, Robot, as the CGI effects were made specifically for digital viewing. Even though I had seen the movie not long after it's initial release in 2004, I had long since forgotten most of it. On this particular screen, it was just great! The image was razor sharp, the colours outstanding. Okay, we still haven't sprung for a surround-sound system yet, but in time we will get something suitable and overall, the sound quality from the Toshiba itself was just fine.

I shot a glance over at out Rogers box... it was still in hibernation mode. Gr-rrrrrr... Okay, maybe after we watch another movie. On went 'Prada'. I thoroughly enjoyed it as Merryl Streep was simply flawless in her role.The movie ended at 2355hrs. Ah, crap! I was gonna pay for this come morning, with a 0515 wake-up in the cards for me. Still no signs of life from the Rogers box, by the way. The same condition existed when I left home for work this morning.

Needless to say, my better half is totally enthralled with the new set-up. As am I, actually. So simple and yet so rewarding. We may well have created a new 'favorite room' in this already comfortable and well-appointed home of ours...

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