New TV For The Bedroom

Circuit City offers a service where, for a fee, they’ll come to your home and set the TV up. Does anyone really need this? It was out of the box with the base screwed into place in two minutes.

element-lcd-tv.jpgWe went out today to buy a new TV for the bedroom. This is a set used by me when I wake up and by Helaine before she goes to bed.

Is it possible nowadays to not feel guilty when spending money? I definitely felt guilty. Isn’t that attitude going to take us farther into recession?

We decided we’d like something similarly sized to what we already have. Our old set is 27″, but it’s 4:3. All TVs today at 16:9. Have no fear there are websites that will calculate and compare. A 32″ TV is within 6% of a 27″ “old school” monitor in area with lots of extra real estate when the content is HDTV.

This was definitely a price based decision. We went with a Circuit City “Element” brand 32″ LCD TV at $399. It is a no-nonsense model with a single HDMI input, VGA and the other standard methods of moving video and audio.

Circuit City offers a service where, for a fee, they’ll come to your home and set the TV up. Does anyone really need this? It was out of the box with the base screwed into place in two minutes. I couldn’t believe there was a Phillips head screwdriver included!

I attached the coax and power cable turned it on and went to the menu to scan for channels. A few minutes later I was ready to go.

The analog channels are what I was expecting. The digital channels are a mish mash of repeats and weird channels with few things of interest. At least two digital channels don’t seem to be on my Comcast provided digital tuner in the family room. That’s some sort of screw up on Comcast’s part.

The digital companions to our local on-air stations are at their on-channel positions. So, though WCTX is usually Cable 9, WCTX-DT is on Channel 59. WTIC, the local Fox affiliate, is 61-1 squeezed between CNN Headline on 61 and CNN on 62. Now Homer Simpson is in the middle of a cluster of news outlets.

As I tuned I began to notice a lot of channels running HD programming on their SD channels but formatted 16:9 so it doesn’t fill the entire screen. What you get is a 16:9 picture on a 16:9 set but with loads of unused black on all four sides. I could hit a button an expand it, but it’s a manual job on each channel and the video will be pixelated as it’s stretched.

The tuner on this set reminds me of the tuner in an LG set at work. It probably is the same tuner. I assume there are mix and match modules used to build modern televisions. Companies like “Element” are more marketing than manufacturing.

The picture is bright and sharp and it’s an improvement over the old set. I’m looking forward to watching it.

A New Network

Recently the UPN and WB TV networks decided to merge and form CW. News Corp (aka Rupert Murdoch), which owns the Fox Network and also a few UPN stations was left out in the cold. Today, their revenge: “My Network TV.”

I’ve attached the NewsCorp press release after the jump, but basically this little network will premiere with two telenovellas.

Though seldom seen in the English speaking United States, novellas are a mainstay of Spanish television here and lots of networks worldwide.

Maybe the word novella is a bit pretentious. These are soap operas, in prime time, Unlike most nighttime network dramas we see now, these will be shot on videotape (or whatever the next generation of video storage turns out to be), not film.

I would expect these to be sexy, steamy soap operas – as far as the envelope can be pushed.

If, and this is a big if, one character or one story line gets ‘hot’, this will be the best investment in modern television. “My Network TV,” more than any other network, will be driven by the power of word-of-mouth. One of these telenovellas could get hot in an instant.

Here in Connecticut, it’s certainly possible My Network TV will be offered to WCTX, our UPN affiliate. I have no knowledge of any inside dealings and would expect to be kept out of the loop, as you would expect with any employee who had no need to know.

It is seldom you see old line media making creative moves like this which might build over-the-air viewing. This is definitely out of the box thinking, probably by Roger Ailes (also responsible for Fox News Channel).

I am worried I won’t approve of the final product which is presented. Still, I have to say I am pleased that there’s still creative thinking going on at the network television level.

Continue reading “A New Network”

New Haven Advocate Best Of

I was very pleased to hear I’d won the New Haven Advocate’s Best Of Readers’ Poll. Though I usually pick up the Advocate when I get coffee at Roberto’s, I missed the voting issue so I didn’t even have a chance to stuff the ballot box.

That this is a vote by viewers makes it all the more gratifying.

There are some interesting, nearly dubious, honors bestowed. Some categories are split so many ways that you’d better get something. And, I totally understand that the Advocate does this as an advertising booster (look in the print issue and see all the back slapping ads). It’s still nice.

Christopher Arnott, who I’ve known for years, wrote my little blurb – and now I’m blushing.

Tonight is the ‘get your award’ dinner, and I’ll be going. I’ll bring my camera.

Best Local TV Personality

Geoff Fox, WTNH Channel 8

Geoff Fox stops by the Advocate offices in the early afternoon. The energy of the 9-to-5ers in the room is starting to lag, but Fox is wide-eyed, funny, fresh, loud-voiced, glad-handed–the life of the party.

He woke up about an hour earlier. His workday’s just begun.

“Basically I live my life in Hawaiian time. I wake up at noon, and I don’t get home until midnight. I’m used to people calling me and waking me up. I liked it when I had a friend living in Singapore; he’s the only one who’d call me when I was at the right time.”

Geoff Fox has weathered that rough-and-tumble schedule for over 20 years as a weatherman, and he’s been a broadcast professional since 1969. And despite cleaning up annually as Advocate readers’ choice for Best Local TV Personality, he’s still improving his job prospects, studying meteorology for the past three years.

Geoff Fox New Haven Advcoate photo

One thing that makes Geoff Fox so engaging in person is his quick wit, and it’s a skill he’s able to use on the air. “I get to do stand-up. I get to ad-lib. I’m the only one who works without a script.” Some of his best exchanges are with the Channel 8 directors and cameramen; he’s like a comedian who delights in cracking up the house band. “For me, it has a lot to do with growing up watching George Burns, Soupy Sales and Sandy Becker,” TV comics who loved to break the fourth wall and display the nuts and bolts of the TV set.

Offscreen, he engages with viewers via his weblog, for which he’s already penned over 1,100 entries. A self-admitted tech geek, Fox has built a few computers himself, and he has connected another of his passions–poker–to the net by playing an online game through a casino in Costa Rica, almost tripling his initial investment.

It’s a life well lived, on air at 5, 6 & 11 p.m. (plus 10 p.m. on Channel 8’s sister station, WTXX) and “on” constantly from noon until his wee-hours bedtime.

On the same page: Yale wins the Best Local Four-Year College category. Who woulda thunk it?

Blogger’s note: The writeup says I’m on WTXX, but our 10:00 PM news is on WCTX, channel 9 on most cable systems.

Let It Snow – Please?

I finally decided 6-12″ for Shoreline and Western Connecticut and 5-10″ for the rest of the state. The snow has started, and I’m watching the traffic cameras in Lower Fairfield County as if this were some sort of riveting drama – which it is to me.

Downstream, there has been some heavy snow. But, I am also looking at the western, trailing, edge of the system. It is moving too fast. At this rate it won’t last all night.

I hate snow on so many levels.

As the new 0z eta starts dribbling in, it is backing off precipitation. Now, only around 25″ liquid equivalent. Two days ago it was over an inch. That’s a huge drop off.

On the other hand, it doesn’t look like the initial conditions that were fed into the model were totally accurate. Maybe the model is poisoned from the outset!

I hate snow even more.

With 35 minutes to go until the news on WCTX, I am going to stick with the earlier forecast, in spite of the new guidance. But, I will express my concern that I’ve over predicted.

What a mess. And, what a mess I am.