TV or not TV


Photo by Susan Adams , subject to this creative commons license

I can remember when we got our first television. It was, I think, in 1952 or 1953. It wasn’t very big and, of course, the flickering picture was in black and white. The old indian head test pattern still haunts my memory.

Dad, an engineer, spent almost as much time fiddling with the set as we did watching it. I remember his tube tester and being amazed at those  complicated glass encased wonders. Like many of my baby boom cohort, I grew up watching Howdy-Doody, Winky Dink, and then fell in love  with Annette Funicello (oh! those magnificent breasts!)

We got our first color set in 1958 (or maybe not till 1960). Wow! the World of Disney captured my heart and eyeballs. Bonanza was one of my favorites, too.

Of course, until not that long ago local TV was limited to three or four channels: NBC. CBS, ABC, and PBS. Before the ubiquity of the remote control, you seldom changed channels except between shows. You just sat on the couch and watched whatever was on.

Its a different world now. Sixteen million channels. My 42″ HD set is considered small (back in the day, a 28″ TV was considered really big). I have four remotes on my coffee table (TV, cable, DVD, Blu-ray).

And now I’ve crossed into another realm. The new HD set I purchased a month and a  half ago came with wireless internet access. It wasn’t the reason I bought the set; I figured it would be, at best, a seldom used novelty.

I was wrong.

We discovered Netflix. While the content offered is spotty, particularly when it comes to recent films (only one of the Lord of the Rings trilogy), for eight bucks a month it is well worth having. Being good left wingers, we are addicted to PBS programs. particularly those from Britain, and even more particularly mystery programs.  Netflix offers dozens of shows that feed our addiction.

I’m going to buy a  $50 Roku so my wife can watch internet TV in her bedroom on her small, non HD television.

For the first time I’m seriously considering cutting back our cable service. Between the TV, internet connection and phone, we pay about $250 per month.  That doesn’t count my $99 per month iPhone bill and the ten bucks I pay each month for mobile access to Rhapsody.

I never used to watch very much video on my computer. It’s so old it won’t run HD content and occasionally just freezes up. Now, my iPad 2 is capturing a significant share of my time. I’ve become a fan of TED and various other apps offering video or music.

To end with the inevitable cliche, it is a whole new, and unsettled, world when it comes to video. I can’t wait to see what will happen next (video transmitted directly to your retina?)

Read all of VISIONS

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