Bigger is better. At least that was the message delivered by Panasonic president, Toshihiro Sakamoto at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Sakamoto revealed Panasonic's plans for the future of consumer electronics which included the world's largest flat screen TV - a 150-inch plasma set measuring 11 feet by 7 feet. Yes, I said 150 inch. That would be like nine 50 inch TVs grouped together. Now THAT is big screen television!
"Can you imagine sitting at home watching the Olympics on this baby?" Mr. Sakamoto joked to the crowd. While Sakamoto didn't rule out home use of the giant, he said the new television would be primarily marketed to a commercial audience. He said Panasonic's new line (including thinner 1 inch models) would hit the market next year but didn't announce a specific release date for the 150 inch giant. No price was given either. You know what they say, if you gotta ask …
Panasonic has been working with hundreds of families to determine how they use their home entertainment systems. Mr. Sakamoto announced that new lines of Panasonic TVs will come with built in SD memory card slots, typically found in digital cameras, so that all photos a person takes with their camera can be easily shown on a TV. He also announced that the company will be releasing a new high-definition camcorder that saves information to an SD card, so that HD videos can also be watched on a new Panasonic TV.
I don't think my wife would let me buy a 150 inch television, even if I could afford it. My wife would raise the roof, or rather; she wouldn't raise the roof, which is what we'd have to do to get the thing into the house. My den isn't large enough. Our entire home isn't large enough. Maybe if I set it up in the yard…nah, I don't think so - they don't make extension cords that long.
Coincidently, we were browsing at new TVs just the other day. Our current set is about 12 or 13 years old and has been having its share of "senior moments" lately. Besides being much heavier and more cumbersome than the new thin models, the sound quality is getting progressively worse. Where once we were able to listen to it at a level of about 24 to 28, we now need to crank it up to around 35 to 40, sometimes much higher than that depending on the stations. Also, the color has become faded and murky. The contrast is off, and the sharpness just isn't what it once was.
Come to think of it, my television is kind of like me - I suffer from all the same symptoms. Fortunately my wife hasn't been out shopping for a new husband yet - at least not that I know of.
For those of you who have not ventured into an electronics store of late, let me tell you that the whole procedure of picking out a new television has gotten more complicated than the Middle East peace process. There's HDTV, there's rear projection, there's LCD, there's plasma, there's 4:3 ratio, there's 19:9 ratio, there are lines of resolution - 720 or 1080, and then there is 1080i and 1080p. There is HDMI and HDMI 1.3. There are low resolution bands, there are high resolution bands. Pixels. Florescent tubes. Contrast ratio. 60Hz and 120Hz frame rate. Do you watch in a darkened room or a highly lit room? Do you want it to be a "home theater" or a work station? What kind of components will you want to plug into it? And what about speakers? Is your DVD player compatible? And your receiver?
In the good old days my mom and dad just had to decide what size screen they wanted (or could afford) and if the cabinet was to be cherry wood or walnut stained. Period. They didn't have to be electronic wizards or computer geeks to buy a television. All they needed to know was which wall the TV would be placed at in relation to where the couch was facing.
Things are different now. Now I need to attend classes at Cal Tech before I can make an intelligent choice. The fear of buying the "wrong" TV tears at my guts and grips my throat in a choke hold. The thought of spending a lot of money on this thing only to discover in a couple of months that I bought the "wrong" TV is a bit disconcerting, to say the least.
I know I have to research the web sites and electronic reviews. I have to compare prices. I have to figure out which model and manufacturer offers us the best value for what we spend. I need to read consumer feedback and look at repair charts. I have to discern which brand is the best and of the best brands, which can we really afford. Yes, I need to do research.
But how I wish I could just go with the cherry wood cabinet.