Oct 25, 201212:16 PMBlaska's Bring It!
with David Blaska
The old guy goes high-def
As The Onion’s slacker/stoner columnist Jim Anchower would say, it’s been a while since I was rapping at you. Been busier than a fact-checker at a Tammy Baldwin rally.
I have just emerged from an intense project that will benefit all who pass through Stately Blaska Manor. I have set up an all-new home entertainment center with the latest (well, almost) electronic gear after a self-taught course of catching up with the 21st century.
I may have skipped a couple generations of audio-visual technology. Even good friends mock me for the bare bones nature of my cell phone. Hey, it makes calls.
This is my first flat-screen TV. Yeah, it replaces a cathode ray tube TV, although it was HD capable. But the high-definition wasn’t that high – not compared to the new rig.
Back in the day, I was the envy of my college dormitory floor because I had a black-and-white television. You improved reception by wrapping the rabbit ears in tinfoil. This was before cable, before flat screens, before Jobs and Wozniak started tinkering in the garage. Hell, it was before 8-track cassette tapes.
Short story long, I got six pieces of electronic equipment to play nice with each other without producing a shower of sparks or plunging Orchard Ridge into the Dark Ages. In so doing, I may have set back the onset of Alzheimer’s disease a couple of months.
My new Sony Bravia HDTV is 40 inches diagonally. It has something called Edge LED, which is almost as good as something called “full array local dimming.” (Yeah, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds. I was!) The picture scans 1080 pixels, which is tops right now, at 120-Hz refresh speed. It’s Internet Wi-Fi ready, but I haven’t configured that yet. Means you can go direct to Facebook and NetFlix. I passed on home 3-D. It doesn’t have voice and gesture control. (During this political campaign season, it’s probably not a good idea.) These things go as big as 80 inches, but I don’t run a sports bar.
It’s got the all-in-one HDMI (high-def multi-media interface) cables, which are the latest, and the three red, blue, and green component cables, the next best, which replaces the red, white, and yellow composite cables, which replaces the one red and one white RCA cables. I got cables if you want ’em.
A black box called an AV receiver/tuner is the hub that controls the HDTV, DVD player, audio speakers, and the cable company’s digital video recorder (DVR). I can also run my iPod through the USB connection. Yes, I have an iPod Nano, but it’s second generation; they’re up to seven now.
A 16-year-old kid probably could have thrown it all together in minutes, but I did what desperate men do; I dug into the product manuals. Reading CNET and Top10Reviews on the Internet also helped. (I am fairly computer savvy.) Once I figured that the DVR cable box goes into the AV and from there goes into the HDTV (after several false starts) I was in business.
Attached this all to a set of Polk RTi A-1 bookshelf speakers. No sub-woofer yet, much less the seven surround-sound speakers the Sony STR-DH720 can handle at 105 amps per channel.
Some users, I guess they are hobbyists, fine-tune the picture and sound on their setups. Stuff like:
Dynamic contrast: Off
Black tone: Off
Flesh tone: 0
RGB Only Mode: Off
Color space: Custom
White Balance: [see below]
10p White Balance: On
Color Space submenu:
Color Space: Custom
Red: Red 44, Green 0, Blue 21
Green: Red 59, Green 48, Blue 54
Blue: Red 0, Green 38, Blue 37
Yellow: Red 45, Green 44, Blue 49
Cyan: Red 32, Green 52, Blue 52
Magenta: Red 46, Green 24, Blue 47
And that’s only a sampler.
After three days of intense study and wire-swapping, the Stately Manor is thrumming with son et lumiere. The Lovely Lisa said she was proud that I never once lost my temper. Back in the day, I did blow a few fuses. The passage of years and a heroic regimen of psychotropic drugs keep me a mellow fellow (quite rightly). Also, the timely ingestion of wine.
There’s a metaphor in here somewhere. Or maybe it’s a parable. Oh yes, I’ve got it! We’re living in a more complex world. It’s a world of self-directed 401(k) plans rather than defined benefit pensions. Of multiple levels of cable service, tweets, and Facebook rather than Uncle Walter telling us what to think. “Self-directed” is the key terminology.
Just participating in the world today requires more brain cells, not fewer.
Of course, the easier way to keep the brain cells happy is to vote Republican.
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