New TV

Published on 10 August 2007 in , , ,

The new TV has arrived which is good – watching episodes on Futurama on your laptop PC just isn’t the same if you ask me. It’s an IDTV – integrated with digital. I did contemplate going for a cheaper model without the digital element (actually in the clearence range) but due to delivery issues (i.e. they couldn’t tell me when it would be delivered), decided to get the digital one. Analogue TVs are getting harder and harder to find now – and it has to be said, rightly so.

It might sound a bit funny to potentially get an analogue TV in an era when we’re about to switch off analogue television, but then I do most of my watching through the Humax PVR anyway which has twin tuners. But then, having a digital tuner in my TV means I don’t have to start up the PVR if I don’t need to watch a recording, so it’s probably going to use less electricity.

Perhaps the first notable thing – my old TV was a 24″ model, this is 28″ which means its taking up a bit more space, and certainly looks more dominating in the living room. Second was perhaps the ultimate test for me – what did it do when confronted with a traditional 4:3 picture.

When I first plugged in my old Phillips widescreen TV, it decided to stretch 4:3 pictures to fill the whole screen. This is bad, although To be fair, once you’d told it for the first time that you like your 4:3 pictures presented with black bars down the side, it always did that. Meanwhile my parents Thomson TV decides to crop 16:9 pictures to 14:9 then stretch them back to 16:9 which is just bonkers (I think it’s related to a SCART cable or lack of, but my visits there are rarely long enough, or quiet enough for me to tear their living room apart to find out what is going on.) And as for some of the TVs at work…

So anyway I flicked the new Beko TV onto the first channel showing 4:3 content that I could find – UKTV History – and waited… And lo, it did correctly put the black bars down the side without me having to do anything at all. Result!

On the downside, if having to press a “Radio” button on my Humax PVR to get digital radio channels is unintuitive, then this TV takes it to a whole new level. You have to open the System Menu, select “Programme Table” then press another button to change to Radio. And then to change back to TV… Looking at the manual, there seems to be no other way to jump between the two. I’m hoping there’s some way round it involving favourites, but I am supposed to be working from home today, so can’t spend all my time playing with the TV…

Either way though, that’s an epitome of non-usability. If you must split radio from TV, put it under a different button on the remote control… The fact that someone coded the TV’s software to work in this klunky way in the first place, is quite ridiculous. A digital radio channel on Freeview is technically very similar to a TV channel, which means someone has had to spend time coding them apart for the TV. To code it in such a complex way that it takes about seven or eight button presses to get to your radio channel, seems very odd indeed. It is an annoyance, however I rarely listen to digital radio in the living room so not the end of the world I guess.

All that aside, it’s nice to have some vision back in the house. We’re not huge TV watchers, but it’s a good way to unwind after all. What is a little strange is the thought that this is probably the last CRT television I’ll ever buy. If they’re hard to get hold of now, what’s it going to be like in another five years? One can only hope that, by some sheer miracle, LCDs and plasma TVs get a lot better in the meantime when handling standard television signals – cos there’s no way we’re all going to be HD by 2012.