Things I Can’t Afford Thursday: Ridiculous TVs

I knew that there was a TV revolution going on, but I guess I didn’t really anticipate how thorough that revolution would be. Whenever I pass the electronics section of Target or Best Buy, I see the walls glowing with flatscreens showing exotically beautiful nature programs. They all cost a small fortune, and I always assumed that somewhere in the dark corners of those departments, the old-school vacuum tube TVs are lurking, still stashed in their boxes, priced at $49.99, yearning for the day when they too could show beautiful nature programming. I don’t think many people miss the 4000-pound wide-screen behemoths, but I expected that there would always be a need for those boxy old TVs with tiny screens, the kind of TV that Gibbs would have stashed in his basement along with Boat #5 and his trusty bottle of bourbon. Can you picture Gibbs with a flashy new miniature plasma screen? Didn’t think so.

The TV situation definitely makes me feel like an old person. “Back in my day, TVs weighed as much as a car, and we hauled em up two hundred flights of stairs! The picture was grainy and sometimes individual pixels burned out, leaving you with awkward dark spots! But we didn’t mind, because we had VHS movies to watch!”

I actually had a dream about this TV revolution last night. I dreamed I was in Costco, and a bunch of enormous JVCs (our TV) were on sale for $10, right next to the marinated chicken skewers and the boxes of 1000 cocktail umbrellas. I remember being very concerned that the chicken wasn’t being refrigerated.

The reason the plasma/LCD/electromazing TV revolution came to my attention so recently is that my sister is starting college soon. My mom was trying to find a small TV for her, since I’d gotten a little 13-inch TV with a built-in DVD player when I went. But those don’t seem to exist anymore. The only small TVs we could find were miniature versions of the $2,500 flatscreens hanging on the walls. Those still cost around $200. Lovely image quality, but $200 is a bit much for a machine you don’t expect to survive college.

I was convinced that the old TVs still existed somewhere. Despite their inconvenient size and the digital conversion and the arrival of BluRay, I was sure that not everyone wanted a flatscreen, hence, an old boxy TV would be out there somewhere, for cheap.

But as far as I know, they’re gone.

The old boxy version has served me just fine. That trusty 13-inch TV with a built-in DVD player has lasted me through college. The hookups are conveniently located on the front, and I can carry it all by myself. Picture quality? Meh. I just want to curl up and watch “Moulin Rouge” while the guys play “Call of Duty.”

However, on our list of Things To Get When We Have More Money (along with a wedding and a real couch) is a new TV. Our massive JVC, the one that made it into my dreams, is not the prettiest of machines. If you tried to watch a BluRay on it, the disc would probably turn up its nose at this relic and refuse to play. For the moment, it serves us fine, but we do look forward to the day when we can upgrade.

In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to find the biggest, shiniest, most expensive flatscreens out there. The winner seems to be this 65″ Samsung, which will set you back around $4,500. Or there’s this 108″ Sharp, made with (and I quote) 8th-generation glass substrates and 6.21 million pixels. I’m not sure where you actually get it, but it’ll cost you up to $150,000.

Let’s play What Else Could We Buy With That Money!
1. 125 crummy used cars!
2. 151,000 songs on Itunes!
3. Or 753 Ipods, for that matter.
4. Or heck, how about 83 MacBook Pros.
5. Or instead, save the kids’ brains from rotting and send them to Harvard for almost three full years.

Besides, can you imagine how much space a 108″ TV would take up? That’s nine feet! That’s probably a longer diagonal than your ceiling is tall! How do you even get it to your house? It wouldn’t fit in any car, but I’m sure the people buying this thing wouldn’t entrust it to mere truck delivery. Maybe they airlift it in?

I don’t know. But the JVC can hang out for a while longer.


4 thoughts on “Things I Can’t Afford Thursday: Ridiculous TVs

  1. Your mom and sister should try checking Video Only, down in Southcenter. Even if they don’t have those relics you call “box T.V.s”, they have the best pricing I’ve ever seen.

  2. Don’t forget that Goodwill exists almost solely for this purpose: finding a serviceable TV for a good bargain. My current TV cost $20 and it has worked like a charm for the past three years.

    • Nice find! I’ve never really had much luck at Goodwill, but then again I’ve never shopped there for anything other than terrible costume pieces for sorority events. I did find some 90s-tastic glasses, though – they were off the hizz-ook.


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