New TV, now with sepia!

As I hinted before, I got a new TV, pictured above. The Thursday before the Super Bowl, I was at CompUSA talking with our sales rep (our company buys laptops and software licenses through them). At one point we got to talking about TVs. I mentioned that I’ll probably upgrade my 10-year-old 27” Daewoo TV sometime this year, but I wasn’t really looking at the moment. He mentioned that he bought a 37” LCD from CompUSA a few weeks ago, and was really happy with it. I took a look at the model, a 37” Olevia 437V. Now, I had never heard of Olevia before, and the quality was hard to gauge (since they split a component signal about 50 ways), but the price was awesome at $800, especially for an LCD.

I went back to work and did a little research. Olevia is an up-and-coming LCD retail brand from Syntax-Brillian, and has been selling TVs (presumably) at a loss to build up a reputation. In addition, EVERY review I read online gave the 437V glowing praise. The TV was already $100 below anything I could find online because of the upcoming Super Bowl, so I jumped on it and bought it Friday. My rep even gave me $50 off the already $100 discounted price. Woo!

The picture is sharp (1080i/720p, no 1080p but meh), the display looks absolutely HUGE compared to my old CRT, and as an added bonus, I found that the receiver is capable of normal OTA antenna, analog cable ready, ATSC antenna (DTV/HDTV broadcast), *and* QAM256 support. The box said nothing about QAM support. QAM is unencrypted digital/HDTV cable, and most cable companies provide the local channels for free in unencrypted QAM with any plan (including my internet-only plan), though they don’t like to advertise/admit it.

With ATSC and a normal radio shack antenna, I can get ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, PBS Create, PBSHD (ooo man is that pretty), MNT, and 3 weather subchannels to ABC, CBS and NBC. No FOX/CW though, ho hum. CBS, NBC and PBSHD operate in 1080i (with PBSHD running 1080i HD 24/7), and ABC (and FOX/CW if I could get them) in 720p. MNT has no HD content and hence is always 480i, but it’s still “digital TV”. With QAM through Charter I get all of the above, minus MNT, plus CW/FOX, a TMCC classroom 480i station, and Charter’s 50 or so music channels.

(Wow, that was a lot of acronyms.)

Now, admittedly, I’m not much of a TV snob. Before now, I had a 10-year-old TV, in an area where I couldn’t receive anything well via SD transmissions. I didn’t have cable, which basically leaves watching DVDs through my TV. Before I bought the new HDTV, I (correctly) predicted this would be a slippery slope to rampant consumerism. Since then I have bought:

* $100 TV stand (the feet on the new 37” TV alone were too big for the TV stand that once fit the entire 27” CRT) (*)

* $60 Progressive scan DVD player with upconverting (*)

  • $20 Wii component cables

  • $80 Hauppauge HVR-1600 (dual ATSC/NTSC PCI tuner)

* $160 500GB SATA HD (*)

  • $40 MCE remote/receiver

Items marked with a (*) were bought with a Best Buy or Sears gift card, so I technically didn’t lose anything on those.

Now, notice the tuner, SATA drive and remote. I took my existing “gaming” machine and installed Vista Home Premium with MCE, and attached it to the VGA/DSUB input on the TV. Yeah yeah, hear me out. While Vista has overall failed to impress me, Vista MCE is VERY impressive. I thought about building a MythTV box or getting a new fancy Tivo, but the HD Tivos are damn expensive, and every time I’ve tried to build a MythTV PVR/media center, I’ve ended up beating my head against the wall for weeks. While MCE is missing a few minor features (Tivo’s suggested recording would be nice), everything that is there Just Works. The dual tuner is 100% Vista aware, and after I plugged it in, it immediately recognized the ATSC and NTSC tuners.

Oh, and I’ve got an appointment for Wednesday morning to get cable TV. Hello slippery slope!