Extremely late to the party: HDTV is awesome

Why HDTV now finally appeals to CNET Lab's Eric Franklin.

I consider myself a fairly patient person. In June, I sold my 34-inch Sony KV-XBR910 CRT HDTV. I was moving to a new apartment that month and the thought of moving this 250-pound behemoth--that I'd already moved twice before in the last three years--was just too daunting.

I paid more than $2,000 for the TV in 2003 and in June 2008, I put it up on eBay and Craigslist for $500. I got $150. Unfortunately, because I had an extremely small window of time before having to vacate my old apartment--and because I was afraid of being stuck with this huge piece of hardware I could not move on my own--I ended up selling it for a price much lower than what I had originally desired.

Now this is state of the art! Eric Franklin/CNET Networks

It's hard for me to even write that, honestly, as I'm sure there were things I could have done differently to get a much better return on my investment. But what's done is now done. I truly wish the soulless excuse for a human being who bought it from me the best of luck with it and I mean that in the best way.

I guess I can't blame all the eBayers and Craigslisters who passed up my TV at $500. I mean why buy a 5-year old, 250-pound TV which, although in great condition, does not have as many connection options or as big of a screen as a 50-pound, 40-inch LCD they can get for $1,000 or so.

Yes, I see how this could have been a hard sell. However, it really depressed me to realize that I was having trouble selling a 5-year-old TV for just a quarter of its original price. Is this even normal depreciation? Actually, I don't really want to know, now that what's done is done. Perhaps I should just move on and look toward bigger and better things.

Unfortunately, I've yet to actually do that. Since selling it, I've been forced to slum it with my girlfriend's 15-year old, 13-inch Philips/Magnavox TV/VCR combo while I determine which LCD HDTV I want to invest in. A few weeks back I watched the season finale of Battle Star Galactica. I won't spoil it here, but the final shot of that episode has a reveal that let's just say I had trouble fully appreciating while watching it on this thing. I remember having to get off the couch and get within a foot of the TV to see anything and even then I was like, "Um, WTF am I even looking at?"

Thanks to high-definition pics I've found on forums, I've since learned what I was missing. Friday I watched the opening ceremony to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and like most people I was greatly impressed by the incredible show China put on.

On Saturday, I went over to my friend Dan's house to hang out and to finally meet his 9-month-old daughter. The visit contained both the highlight and the low point of my weekend. While his daughter was one of the coolest babies I've ever met, watching the Olympics in HD on his HDTV was so visually impressive that it depressed me that I'd just watched the opening on such a clunker. This was an opening of such ambition that nothing like it will probably ever be attempted again in my lifetime and I got to waste its full impact on the gadget you see above.

I owned an HDTV for five years, and that whole time I was just too cheap to order HD service from my cable provider. I've used it for normal DVDs, the previous generation of game systems and standard-definition TV. This was enough for me at the time and I got used to it.

If I'd known then, however, that watching something as mundane as cycling in HD could be an interesting and exciting experience I would have plopped down the extra cash for HD a long time ago. Of course, I've been to Circuit City and Best Buy and have watched their HD demo feed multiple times, and while I've always been impressed on a technical level, it was never enough for me to take the next step. There was something about watching it in a cozy and homey environment however, that really made it 10 times more appealing. I can't explain it, but it just felt very comforting. This, coupled with the fact that as I write this, I'm sitting here watching the China vs. U.S. men's water polo match and I can't tell what the hell is going on and I'm just kind of waiting for the replays so that I can catch up.

I'm going out of town this week, but I have something to look forward to when I get back. For one, I've narrowed my TV choices down to the Sony KDL 40v4100 and the Samsung LN-T4061F and Monday I'll be ordering HDTV service from Comcast to be ready when I get back.

I'll not only still have an entire week of track and field Olympic coverage in HD to look forward to, but also a number of PS3 and Xbox 360 games and Blu-ray and HD DVD (cheap ones) movies that I'll be collecting this week in anticipation. Also, although I don't expect the 2012 Summer Olympics opening in London to be anywhere near as spectacular, if by chance it comes close, this time I'll be ready.

 

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