The one, the only, Television purchase

Okay, we are eclectic tech people. We like our devices, but we don’t have everything new. We are very particular in what we want and how we spend our tech dollars.

Case in point: Until last Saturday I had never purchased a television. Now, I’ve never been without a television, just never bought one. My wife, contrarywise, has bought exactly one television previously, before we were married.

Every time previous that we considered purchasing a television (never very seriously) we would get one from somewhere else. The most frequent of those were family members who purchased a new television and offered us the one they were getting rid of. Which served our purposes well enough. The last time it was a neighbor trying to get rid of a large screen back-projection television: she couldn’t sell it or give it away online, it seemed, and was moving out of the house. So we took that: our first big screen TV.

We never really had a need for other televisions. Our tablets and computers (now all laptops) got our tech money. We didn’t even splurge tech funds on phones. Why do we need a smart phone when we have all those other smart devices.

Well, we learned the what/why of that when we bought our television.

It must have been at least a 5-year escalating cycle of thinking about buying the TV before we actually spent the last month seriously going to the stores to compare week to week, until the week we knew we wanted to buy the TV.

I, of course, was the one to push the decision to slightly more than what was originally budgeted/planned by the ever-conscientious wife. (With us, this may be our first, and last, TV purchase, who knows.) We looked at figures to determine the “right” size for a TV in our living room. Depending on whether we were sitting at the back of the room, or in the middle (the locations of the various watchers) the room should be sized for a 40 inch or a 55 inch TV.

We were looking at a 43-inch Vizio smart-TV with chromecast built in. We had the discussion about size, and also about resolution. We went with a 4K TV. Even though most media is currently 1080p, we figured by the time we were ready to replace the TV we were purchasing, that 4K would have been passed up. 4

We are never looking for the most advanced.  What we have always looked at with computers, etc., was getting as much as we can now, to carry us through to the next time. We don’t want to skimp on things that will make us to decide to buy again sooner.

So for the TV our chief question was size, resolution, and connectivity. We wanted smart to be able to network with anything else we have and that might come along. We also looked for a lot of HDMI ports, and are hoping that they don’t change in the next couple of years to some other cable to make that obsolete.

Then I noticed that an identical TV, but 48-inches, was on sale for $10 extra, so I jumped us to the 48 inch set.  That is finally what we got.

Now for the real story, getting home, getting it set up, getting the peripherals all attached.

Getting it home. 98 Saturn SL. Part of the shopping process was measuring the car and the TV boxes to verify it could fit in the trunk with the back seats down. Some of the boxes said not to put them on their sides. So we also confirmed we could take it home on its side, as long as the screen was facing up.

So getting home was fine. And the son unit helped me carry it up the stairs and unpack it. Of course, the instruction guide was at the bottom of the box. We had to pull it out to get to the instructions to see if there was any advice on how to pull it out of the box.

We carried it over to the stand we had for it, found the legs, and slipped them in. We then found the directions for putting the legs on and screwing them on. Funny, those directions had you putting the screen face down; we put the feet in while it was vertical, and then screwed the screws in. It worked fine, and we felt a lot more comfortable that way.

After that is was figuring out the cables between our old devices to the new TV, and trying to download the Vizio SmartCast App. All you needed was an android-cable mobile device.  Well, we don’t have smart phones, but we had two tablets: A Kindle Fire and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Lite. Of course it wouldn’t work with the proprietary Kindle, but the Google Play store also wouldn’t download it onto the Samsung. It said it wasn’t compatible. Didn’t say why it wasn’t incompatible.

As far as the cables: Our old VHS player had and HDMI cable slot; our newer DVD player did not (Composite only); The Television tuner only had composite. When we tried connecting the DVD player through composite, we got a black picture. So off we went to Target and bought the cheapest Blu Ray player (originally scheduled for purchase later in the year) to get an HDMI connection and a color image.

TV is 4K, but the Blu Ray is only 1080p. The 4K blu rays were ridiculously expensive. We can buy one of those in a few years when they are cheap again.

We were able to hook up the VHS just fine, and the TV tuner just fine.

But we didn’t resolve the programming of the smart cast app, so we just turned the TV on without in, and used it like a TV with peripherals: a dumb TV.

For the old TV we bought the ChromeCast device for $25, but found it required an HDMI port, which the old TV didn’t have. We bought an adapter, but it didn’t work perfectly — only cast the picture, leaving the sound on the device. Since we weren’t getting the built in ChromeCast, we plugged in the external device to one of the HDMI ports on the new TV. It works perfectly for picture and sound.

So now we had Blu Ray, TV Tuner, VHS and ChromeCast plugged in and working.

The salesman had said the TV wouldn’t have much volume: recommended a sound bar for another $80. We got the TV home and found the sound suited us (though the sound bar is a potential future purchase for sound quality). On the old TV we kept the volume at numbers 20-30 most of the time. For the new TV we found the DVD/BluRay needed about 50. On the other hand, when I ChromeCast Pandora to the TV, level 20 was more than enough. Anything ChromeCast needed less than the BluRay.

Before getting the TV, the wife had said she thought the sound bar would be good for when she wanted to play CDs on the DVD player. Which got me to thinking Monday, and led me to connect the DVD player again. After all, we wouldn’t need color on the DVD player to play CDs, and I really didn’t want to use our Blu Ray playing CDs unless we needed to.

And voila! when we got the DVD player hooked up, the color on the initiation screen was in color. Not sure how it was black and white at first, but we hadn’t needed to buy the BluRay — though we definitely intend to keep it.

And the volume for CDs played through the DVD player is a nice 10-20.

The last thing I did on Monday was contact Vizio via online chat to figure out why we couldn’t get the app to download on the tablet. Turns out the tablet has to have Android 4.4 or later; the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Lite has 4.2.2 — so off I went to Samsung help to chat with them about versions.

We wondered whether the Tablet couldn’t take a higher version and we’d need a new tablet. What we were told is that 4.2.2 is the highest version currently released to it, but when a later version is ready they will push it out through the updates.

So we might get another tablet eventually, but right now we’ll do without the SmartCast App and wait for the tablet to update before we run that feature.

Technology: interweaving parts/systems — change any one, and in ripples through everything you have.

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