Flat out con­fus­ing

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Television - TIM MARTAIN

MY wife and I have been do­ing a bit of tele­vi­sion- shop­ping lately. Not for us but for my in- laws.

Their old ana­logue, 4: 3- ra­tio, cath­ode ray tube telly is on its last legs. Since they’re not the most tech- savvy folks, we’ve vol­un­teered to do most of the ques­tion- ask­ing on their be­half.

Even though I con­sider my­self to be quite flu­ent in the lingo, it struck me just how com­pli­cated the sim­ple act of buy­ing a new TV has be­come.

Thank­fully there is no such thing as a cath­ode ray tube ( CRT) tele­vi­sion on the shelves these days. You’ll strug­gle to find any­thing be­low High Def­i­ni­tion ( HD) and you cer­tainly won’t see any­thing ana­logue any more – it’s all dig­i­tal now.

So while that re­moves some of the easy traps to fall into, we’re still stuck try­ing to de­cide be­tween light- emit­ting diode ( LED) screens, liq­uid crys­tal dis­plays ( LCD) and plasma ( which we keep hear­ing are much bet­ter now than their first gen­er­a­tion a few years ago). And do we fork out that lit­tle bit ex­tra to go to Full HD, even though my in- laws aren’t likely to rush out and buy a new Blu­ray player or PS3 any time soon, and telling the dif­fer­ence be­tween HD and Full HD on any­thing less than 50- inch is close to im­pos­si­ble, any­way?

Over the past few years, the tech­nol­ogy and stan­dards have changed so fre­quently that try­ing to keep up is ex­pen­sive.

First we had to buy dig­i­tal set- top boxes so we don’t get left be­hind when the ana­logue sig­nal is switched off.

But within a year or so they were mostly ob­so­lete when HD be­came the bench­mark and those with stan­dard def­i­ni­tion ( SD) tuners were stuck be­ing un­able to ac­cess half the new chan­nels. When the SD dig­i­tal sig­nal is even­tu­ally switched off as well, peo­ple will be forced to up­grade, again.

Any­one with a DVD player is star­ing down the bar­rel as well, try­ing to pre­dict the fu­ture: Blu­ray is look­ing like it will even­tu­ally win the cur­rent for­mat war, so should I up­grade now or wait? And if I do de­cide to switch to Blu­ray, then I’d be silly to get a HD TV, when Blu­ray sup­ports Full HD.

I only wanted to buy a new telly, not pre­dict the fu­ture. I’m not even shop­ping for my­self yet.

All the in- laws want to know is if their new TV will let them watch the new chan­nels they don’t have through their SD tuner sim­ple re­quire­ments.

Mean­while, my own TV ( a chunky­look­ing 68cm CRT that weighs more than I do and was out­moded sev­eral years ago) is also ap­proach­ing its last gasp and I know I will soon be do­ing all this shop­ping again.

But there’s no point wor­ry­ing too much just yet, as the tech­nol­ogy will most likely have shifted by then and I’ll have to start my re­search from scratch. Now, please ex­cuse me while I study up on just what the hell ‘‘ im­age tear­ing’’ means.

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