I’ve done it. I’ve bought a new TV. A new flat panel TV. Despite the wiser voices of others I could hold out no longer.
It actually happened a couple of weeks ago but I wanted to wait to see real HD content on the panel before making any public statements! True HD pictures look excellent.
Back to the beginning of the story, though. A couple of weeks ago (on a Thursday – I never could get the hang of them either) I found myself in the centre of London on business. As I was finishing up and about to make my way back to Victoria, I paused. Should I quickly nip to Tottenham Court Road to see if they have this fabled new Sharp LCD panel in? I’d read reports it had already appeared in Harrods (but apparently the feed wasn’t very good there, one reason I wanted to avoid the place). The electronics shops would be a better bet, all around. In the end, I decided I’d rather go home, get the weight off my feet and have some dinner.
The following day, however, I stopped by the local Comet Superstore over lunch. Without warning the Sharp LCD panel in question appeared on display! Almost equally as if by magic a shop keeper also appeared. Was I dreaming? Apparently not. The price was a few hundred more than I knew I could get it online. Nonetheless I managed to get some information from the salesman (and looked over his shoulder to see the computer saying they only had three in stock). A tad expensive. I made vague suggestions I might return on the Sunday to buy one and left.
Back in my office I phoned up the people who recently supplied my upscaling DVD recorder, AV Sales. Their website said they still didn’t have any in stock. Talking to them on the phone revealed that the preorder queue was quite large, their supply trickling in very slowly indeed and I was unlikely to see one before Christmas. There went my preferred supplier.
Over ‘Beer and Skittles’ at the end of Friday afternoon (when somebody at work goes out to get some snacks and we all spend the last hour of the week having a little party!) I decided. Those vague promises about going back to Comets to buy the panel, that I hadn’t intended to keep, would be kept. I wouldn’t wait until Sunday though. Not even until Saturday morning. I’d buy it on the way home. And so I did.
The 46″ panel filled the back of my little car. The only problem was – it was far too bulky for one person to offload. I needed help and Macfadyan was close by. A quick drive down the road from my place to his car park, a mobile phone call (not leaving the expensive equipment unattended) and help I had. The best part of the next hour saw us unpacking (totally failing to discover the easy way to unpack the large panel…) and my attempts to plumb it in to my myriad of AV equipment in the TV Room. Success! A big thank you to Macfadyan – not so much as a scratch on the set.
To be honest the first pictures on it were disappointing. Standard Definition pictures from the built-in Freeview decoder. Trying a DVD, using a SCART lead, proved a little better but still not wonderful. It wasn’t until the following day, with a shiny new HDMI cable (roughly the new, HD ready, equivalent of a SCART cable) that things really improved. Finally some pseudo High Definition images, upscaled by the DVD player to 1920x1080i (rather than 720x576i). A big improvement but could do better. I needed real HD.
It is only as of this past Saturday morning that I finally have seen true HD on the panel, thanks to a Telewest TV Drive. Torchwood in HD. Robin Hood in HD. Even Space 1999 in HD (yes, really – on ITV HD, they must have gone back to the original film and rescanned/remastered it for HD). They all looked excellent. That’s the future. It’s just a shame there isn’t more HD content yet. Still, as an added bonus, the TV Drive also does some upscaling magic to SD pictures in the same way my new DVD recorder does.
I will say this, though. Flat panel TVs, especially Full HD ones, probably aren’t really there yet for the average Bloggs on the street. Decent sized flat panels really show the flaws with SD material. If you haven’t got HD content (and almost nobody does yet on these shores) then take the advice I ignored and wait. I’m not in the least bit sorry I didn’t, I really get that cinema experience. It didn’t come cheap though and I will have to continue paying for the luxury of HD content every month. If, like me, you must be a foot in the future then join me. Otherwise wait a couple of years. Ultimately you’ll all overtake me long before I will swap this TV for another!
Now I just need to finish furnishing the TV Room (I need a front row of seats, for one thing) and the Home Cinema will be complete (for a bit!)
Sharp LC-46D62U 46″ LCD Flat Panel TV (with Pertwee’s Head for scale)
Pertwee’s Head will return.