Dead TV... / by Erin Wade

Our TV seems to have died.

It's not clear to me why it has shuffled off, but it seems likely to be related to a power outage. ComEd has been in our region installing "Smart Meters", our place being no exception and, as one might expect, this involves shutting down the power to the house for a short period of time. But while the power is now back on, the TV is not. The little yellow standby light does not glow, and it does not respond to a touch of the power button, either on the remote or the set itself. I've tried unplugging and re-plugging it, tried different outlets (though everything else plugged in to the same battery pack/surge protector is running just fine), all to no avail. I'd try CPR, but it's unclear where to offer either the breaths or compressions... It's done this once before, and miraculously revived itself. I remember coming into the room and seeing that little standby light glowing once more. I've been waiting for that to occur again, checking periodically with diminishing hope each time, thus far to no avail.

This old soldier is a 32" Vizio purchased sometime prior to our move to our current home, which would mean before 2009. The vagaries of time make it hard to sort out exactly how much further before, but I'd guess at least a year or two, which would put this device right around 10 years of age. Not all bad, I suppose, for a television.

A lot of changes have occurred in TV technology since we purchased the Vizio. It was our first LCD TV, replacing a short-lived 30" CRT set with a flat screen that I had purchased from Sam's Club, and needed help carrying in, it was so heavy. Those changes, of course, include things like resolution and refresh rate, type and number of inputs, and so on - things that any tech geek will find very important. But the most noticeable change over the last decade is size. My 32" TV was certainly the biggest device with a screen I'd ever owned when I bought it. Now 55" TV's are relatively common, and Amazon carries sizes up to 98" (I mean, they cost $30k, but they do exist...).

Bigger - a lot bigger - is what I'd hoped to do when I decided it was time to replace this TV. I wanted something that really covered the wall - not 98", mind you, but as big as the budget would allow. But since The Fates, and not I, are deciding that it's time for a new purchase, things will play out differently. This is due in part to budget, given that this was not planned, but also due to constraints of space.

In a tale that has likely played out in many homes as the size of televisions has grown, one realizes that to have a very large television requires multiple supports and concessions besides simple purchase price. Because they are well beyond the size of anything that came before them, these monstrosities require either their very own furniture, or wall-mounting systems, either of which, at least in our case, requires a significant change in decor. It also means the cost of the large device isn't just found in its purchase price.

Our current, deceased television resides in our living room, housed in a fairly large and attractive bookcase and wardrobe-style entertainment center. It holds not just the television and its related electronics, but an array of books, games, and knick-knacks that maintain the illusion that the room is not simply the space we use to gaze at the screen. It also fits nicely into the decor of our 1860's era rural home. A large-screen device would mean not just replacing this piece, but also finding homes for all of the paraphernalia it holds. This is something we are not yet prepared to do.

So - I need a television that will fit inside the existing system. The space allowed for a TV in there is about 36" wide by 28.75" high (the entertainment center was built for CRT TV's, so depth is not an issue). This leaves me - a bit of a tech geek - in the odd position of shopping on Amazon for an electronic device based first on its physical dimensions, and only secondarily on its capabilities.

I ended up on this Sceptre TV. It turns out that, while we cannot have a truly big TV, we can have bigger. The bezels on the old 32" TV are pretty big in comparison with newer devices, so we can fit a 40" screen within that space. And given that I still hope to get something on a grander scale, I wanted something that was wall-mountable if I chose to relocate it in the future.

Usually I go for the biggest and the best that I can manage when purchasing technology - this typically pays dividends in terms of longevity - but sometimes it's more important that the tech fit into the way that you live rather than the other way around.