Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The vision thing

"The TV keeps turning itself off," complains Susan.

Well, it often does that just after you turn it on. Particularly if you get impatient and try to press the button a second time before it's completely on. But of course, women don't understand technology.

"Be patient", I advise her. She scowls at me impatiently and jabs the button again.

The little LED on the front of the set is blinking, that means it's turning on. The screen lights up. The screen goes black. The silly girl must have pressed the button again. Exuding manly competence, I grab the control and press the button firmly. We wait.

In due time the screen lights up once more. It's showing a pretty but vague rainbow-like pattern, and no sound. Probably a close-up. Then it goes black.

"But I didn't press it!", I whimper. Evidently my technological grasp has slipped again. Susan looks at me pityingly.

Closer investigation shows that pressing the controls on the set itself gives the same result. And there's a suspiciously powerful aroma of ozone, with overtones of molten plastic, from the back of the set.

So now we have a whole new battery of problems. Try to get the TV repaired, or get rid of it? Get a new one, or live without for a while? Decisions, decisions.

Naturally, I know the only sensible thing to do is to get a new TV. But my lib'rul conscience won't let me rest at that point. I have to look into getting the old TV fixed, or failing that, disposing of it properly. In our world of political correctness gone mad, hurling it from the balcony is frowned upon. Especially by the people directly below.

I gather facts, canvas opinions...

"It'll cost $32 to have it recycled, if you deliver it to us - if we have to pick it up, it's $45" - that's the electronics waste disposal experts on the North Shore. They sound nice, and surely $45 is a small price for the smug glow of ecological responsibility.

"$55 to diagnose the fault in three business days. But we'll deduct it from the cost of fixing it. If we can find the parts." - that's the TV repair shop's quote. Before I can ask if it covers disposal costs, I'm interrupted by an estate agent on the other phone.

"Sell it on TradeMe. I got $3 for my broken vacuum cleaner last week." - that's Sarah's suggestion, and it's not a bad one. Get someone to pay to take it away? Ingenious.

Then I start looking into new TVs, and that's when the panic really hits me.

"You need an HDCP connector," says my boss, John the gadget freak. But none of the offerings on Dick Smith's website mention "HDCP" at all. They're all about "HDMI" instead.

Surely the Internet can help me. Someone must know the relationship, if any, between HDCP and HDMI? Sure enough, Wikipedia to the rescue:
"beginning with HDMI CTS 1.3a, any system which implements HDCP must do so in a fully-compliant manner"

Hmm. A little more opaque than I was hoping for, to be honest, but I think it means that a TV with an HDMI connector specified to version 1.3a or later will be able to accept HDCP input.

Back to Dick Smith. What versions of HDMI are implemented on these TVs? Not specified. Not specified. 1.2, that's no good. 1. Just '1'? - good grief, how prehistoric is that, might as well be throwing paint at the wall... Ah, this one's 1.3 - hmm, does that imply "1.3a", or is "a" a step beyond the basic "1.3"? Where did this bloody alphabet soup come from anyway? - whatever happened to the days when you just plugged an aerial lead into the back of your TV?

By now the set has been sitting in the back of my car for almost two days. I'm taking it to the repair shop this afternoon.


HiStandards said...

I wish you could "see" the smile on my face.

Twenty years I've had my set and I've been waiting the last 3 for it to go out. I've only started to consider its disposal the last year or so. No way I'd put it in the dumpster. Sorry for your troubles, but it was a timely and entertaining read. I'd like to know the outcome.

vet said...

But I can see your smile, HS. Thank you for your sympathy :o)

The old set is with the repair shop now. I've asked them to let me know by Friday, if humanly possible, whether or not it's salvageable - then we can get a new one at the weekend, if that's what it comes to.

Although there was a nice (presumably reconditioned) 32" LCD right there in their reception, priced at $500. Worth thinking about. I have no idea what kind of random Scrabble tiles it comes with, though...