18 April 2014

TV Tribulations

Welcome back. I once blogged about our unused televisions and limited TV viewing (Television Time). That was in a previous incarnation. Everything has changed radically.
Warren’s future home entertainment
center. (www.home-designing.com)

I could just announce: We now have high definition TV (HDTV) and a streaming device! But that’s a tad misleading; and if I stop there, you’ll never know about my wife Vicki’s struggles, her father Muns’s loss or TV service providers’ weather reports.

Weather Channel

The change starter’s gun sounded when Muns’s TV service provider, which also feeds our TV, dropped The Weather Channel (TWC). Though Muns couldn’t give a hoot, I was distressed. Lacking a local 24-hour news and weather radio station, I turn on the TV before my predawn jogging. If I tuned to TWC and pushed the correct button on the remote, I would get the current weather and forecast for our zip code.

Losing TWC was my tipping point for:
Action 1: Buying a tablet computer. I couldn’t see turning on the desktop computer for a weather report, and I’d been thinking about a tablet for some time (Going Digital).
Action 2: Buying a video streaming device and dropping DVDs. I can’t think of a link with losing TWC, but you see where this is going.

TV Blip

Shortly thereafter, Muns’s TV began taking at least five minutes to realize it was turned on. Vicki telephoned a trusted repair shop, described the problem and was told to bring the set in. After describing the problem on site presumably to a different employee, she was told, Oh that’s the TV’s internal power source. It’s failing and the set isn’t worth fixing. Vicki schlepped the set back and tried unsuccessfully to replace it with one then another older TV.

1st Bottom Line: Muns needed a new TV.

Even with my superior ability to read Consumer Reports, there was a hitch. The failing TV is an older HDTV that was not hooked up to receive high definition. The recommended HDTVs and others Vicki inspected do not allow for many connections and receive only high definition video.

2nd Bottom Line: For Muns to use the new HDTV, the TV service provider would have to install a new receiver and raise the level of service.

TV Service Providers

Hmmm, Vicki wondered. Is it time to change TV service providers? I was delegated to determine which TV package we would need if we switched to the service provider that still offered TWC.

To receive the 5 or 6 channels I watch, we would need the 290-plus channel package--funny how that works. Though I didn’t have comprehensive information on Muns’s viewing habits, it seemed that package should do the job.

After obtaining the current provider’s charges for the upgrade and comparing notes with other subscribers, Vicki contacted the second provider and discovered the cost would be substantially lower for the contract period with no installation charge. She switched.

Switchers’ Remorse

Installation went smoothly and the cost will be lower, yet doubts persist.

The original provider offered a small, last gasp price reduction when Vicki called to cancel service. Perhaps negotiation instead of waving good-bye would have saved time and effort.

But what about TWC? Well, before the new service was installed, I observed the original service provider was showing its own weather channel with essentially the same push-a-button-get-a-zip-code forecast. The new service provider’s TWC—the real thing--not only doesn’t offer real-time conditions, its Local Forecast isn’t local.

Most disappointing, Muns sifted through the 290 channels and still can’t find some programs he’s watched for years.

Wrap Up

Exactly one week after the new provider’s service installation, our 10-year old non-HDTV stopped working. 

The failed TV (left) en route to
a recycler and the failing TV.
Rather than rush out to buy a new TV, we replaced it with Muns’s failing HDTV. As the set culminates its death throes, we are becoming adept at turning it on now 6 or 7 minutes before we’re ready to watch.

High definition is great! Streaming would be great, too, if what’s available weren’t so limited. I’ll have to check out those 290 channels. Thanks for stopping by.

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