Down to the wires: installing your flat-scream television set

Remember when getting a TV was a big deal? You’d save for one, or make monthly payments, or wait for a wealthy relative to pass away and give you theirs. Then the big day would arrive when you and 78 of your closest friends would help you move the damn thing inside, where it’d take up approximately 400 square feet.

To make room for it, you’d sometimes have to get rid of stuff in your house, like a coffee table or a small child.

It was simpler to install, too. Just plug it in and adjust the rabbit ears a bit. That’s when the fun began. You’d grab your popcorn and plop down on the couch. Then you’d get back up to turn the TV on, seeing as how remote controls hadn’t been invented yet. Soon you’d find yourself awestruck, amazed at the quality of the picture and sound. Sure, maybe you weren’t exactly thrilled with the program that happened to be on at the time, but it didn’t matter, because you had two other channels to choose from.

Since then televisions have gotten better. They’re smaller, lighter and much more affordable. All of which enables you, the average person, to walk out of a box store owning a highly advanced, state-of-the-art, sophisticated piece of technology that won’t become outdated until you reach the parking lot.

I bring all this up because Marie and I recently became the last people in America to have a flat-screen TV. Personally, I thought our old TV was just fine, other than the fact its weight was hurting our foundation. I got the impression it was sort of old when I tried to donate to The Salvation Army and the workers on the receiving dock burst out laughing. They eventually took it, though. And why not? The thing worked perfectly fine. It was just a little heavy is all. The fact their building collapsed shortly after taking my TV was just a coincidence.

So now we have a brand new TV, one that took a long time to hook up. I suppose it could have gone faster, but I had to read the instruction manual, and my Mandarin Chinese is a little rusty.

Hooking up the cables was the biggest problem. One cable goes to the DVD, one to the Bresnan box. There are blue wires, red wires, auxiliary boxes, etc., all of which made things sort of hectic there for awhile.

Eventually, I got it up and running and was fairly sure I had everything hooked up correctly, until Marie asked me why there were speaker wires attached to the microwave. I told her I couldn’t hear her, and that if she wanted to talk to me she’d have to turn down the volume by punching in “14 minutes” on “Defrost.”

So, no, the TV setup is not perfect. There are a number of issues: It won’t always let me change channels. Turning it completely off is a chore. And when I pop in a “Barney” DVD for my daughter, the sound doesn’t work. But I consider that to be a feature.

Another feature is that it has HDTV capability. This provides a cleaner, clearer, more detailed resolution, just in case you want to know what Katie Couric’s nose pores look like. And the surround sound is incredible; it’s just like a movie theater’s system. We turn it on by punching in “10 minutes” on “Reheat.”

So, yeah, installing the whole thing was sort of a pain. Still it was worth the effort, considering how technology makes our lives easier. This is how much easier my life has gotten: I now have to worry about three remote controls instead of one. And usually at least one of them is lost, which makes for a desperate scramble to find it, otherwise I’d have to skip the TV viewing and do other stuff, like read or spend quality time with my family. And nobody wants to do that.

But in the end I have to admit I love our new flat panel. The features are incredible. The picture quality is superb. And as for the audio?

Well let’s just say our microwave has never sounded better.

E-mail Steve Beauregard at beauregardsteve@ hotmail.com


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