Thursday, December 02, 2010

A Guide to Buying a New Television

New televisions are like the Emperor's New Clothes – we all know the quality's crap, it's just no one's seeing it.

We've only just got rid of our old analogue, cathode ray tube Sony Trinitron TV – it's been in the family for the last 30 years and always worked great. But here's the thing – even up to a few weeks ago the picture quality was better than any digital TV. Don't believe me? Well, put it this way, there was no pixelation, colour fading (when not viewed straight on), ghosting, smearing, flickering, picture judder, jagged edges, screen reflection, temperamental transmissions, dead pixels, low resolution – all things that affect modern LCD and LED TVs.

If you think the quality of modern widescreen TVs is great, you're either fooling yourself or blind (if so, a handy new audio description feature may help you here). Even in TV showrooms – where they like to give a false impression of TV quality by either showing HD channels or DVDs – the quality still looks poor, especially on the ugly large screens, with blurring and pixelation making £1000 TVs look like YouTube quality.

TVs named and explained:

Hi-Definition TV
Most of still watch (and only need) standard definition TV. Ergo, if you have a flash, big, ugly, expensive HD TV the picture quality will be pretty poor showing standard definition.

This is the same technology that powered my handheld video games thirty years ago, right? See all the possible problems mentioned above. Will your LCD TV last thirty years (will it last even last three years)? Will you want it to? No, no and no. You'll be wanting an internet-streaming TV next year, and a 3D TV the year after that. Overall: poor quality which especially becomes apparent watching vintage (ie more than ten year old, non-digital) TV programmes and DVDs.

You'll also be wanting to get rid of your LCD to get an LED. You know what? It's better quality, slimmer and more expensive than LCDs. However, it may also suffer from poor quality.

These are coming in a few years. Better quality than LCD and LED, but more expensive. I'm making it up, but you get my drift. I mean, WTF?

Guess what? They're expensive, ugly and poor quality. And programmed to self-destruct in two years.

3D TVs
This is a new type of TV. They're expensive, with limited content (currently) and usually poor quality. But, most importantly (and this has to be in capitals) THE VIEWER NEEDS TO WEAR SPECIAL 3D GLASSES (which may cost an extra £100). Once again, WTF?

Internet TVs
They should have sorted this out years ago. Let's just make the computer and TV one thing. Still in its infancy, internet access on TVs is mostly limited to a small selection of websites. Facebook on your £2000 55" TV, anyone?

Really Big TVs
Everyone (well, usually guys who want red Porsches and have small dicks… presumably) wants a huge mother of a TV to fill up the whole room or wall. So they can watch reruns of The Bill or Chelsea vs. Spurs. Please. Get. A. Life. It's a general rule that people who want the biggest TVs will watch the crappiest stuff on it.

TV companies and manufacturers must be loving this new technology. For years the UK had nothing but analogue TV and four channels. Now there's a plethora of new features, such as: internet widgets, video recording, eco modes, 3D and audio description. Now TV companies can get us to update our TVs every few years (like the computer companies do by constantly updating software). Go to your local dump and see how many discarded TV sets there are. Yeah, right there, next to all the dumped computer monitors. Basically, the technology isn't ready for the digital switchover so we get either cheap, shoddy TVs that will be obsolete in a few years or really expensive ones with marginally better quality (which may or not be obsolete in a few years).

New TVs don't even have on and off buttons. They're meant to be environmentally-friendly but keeping them on stand-by all night is more damaging to the environment than having them on (apparently).

It's funny how we still have the choice with radio – digital or analogue. Yet the quality of digital radio is far better (comparatively) than digital TV, with complete lack of crackling and superior sound, yet we were virtually forced into buying new TVs or Freeview sets with the analogue switch off. Bring back analogue TV! All is forgiven!

This guide has put together with help from the Which? Guide to Buying a New Television. My final advice? Don't bother. Read a book instead. TV is crap – and HD just makes it appear worse. It's (also) funny that as TV programmes have got worse in quality (in the UK anyway), people have become more obsessed with the quality and size of their TV sets. X Factor's blaring away in the living room when you try to have a conversation with someone. Go figure.

FYI: I don't own a TV.

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