Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The New TV

Last week our old TV set gave up the ghost. In the morning it was just fine. In the afternoon, the picture disappeared. We figured that after 18 years or so, it was time for a new TV anyway, so we went out and bought a Samsung HD-ready LCD set. It's like the one on the right.

After we brought it home, the fun started. Well, it was fun for Judy, who got to watch me set it up. And listen to me. It was necessary to say a few magic words to get things just right. I finally got the cable box, DVD, and VCR hooked to the TV, which was working fine. I couldn't say the same for the DVD, however. We could get a picture, but no sound. It was a crummy picture, too.

By then it was bedtime, so I gave up for the night.
The next day, after a few more experiments with the mare's nest of cables, I got things right. All was well. Except, of course, that there was no HD because we didn't have an HD cable box. I called the cable company, and they told me that they'd bring out a new box and install it for a mere $49.95. And they'd be here in only two weeks.

I didn't want to wait, so I asked if I could just get the box and install it myself. Too complicated for boob like you, I was told, or words to that effect, so I set up an appointment.
Yesterday, however, I decided to e-mail the company and ask again. The reply said, "Sure, you can do it yourself. It's a snap. Come pick up a box."

So I drove to the nearest cable office in Texas City (15 miles), got the box, brought it home and got ready to go. I called the tech person, and she walked me through the installation. No picture, no sound. After an hour and a half on the phone with the tech, switching cables here and there, plugging and unplugging, etc., I threw in the towel.

The tech said the box was clearly faulty. I drove back to Texas City. Got a new box. Came home, called the help line and got the tech person (a different one, of course). I said, "I have brand new HD box here. I haven't done a thing. Walk me through the installation, step by step."
So she did. Guess what. Same result exactly. Changed wires, did this, did that, all the stuff I did the first time, with the same outcome. Then she said, "Have you installed the component cables?" Well, no, nobody mentioned those. It would have been nice if someone had, since the person in Texas City had told me I wouldn't need them. Got those installed.

By golly, it worked. All was well. Did my little victory dance.
Started watching TV. Discovered that I could no longer get anything but 16:9 and 4:3 pictures. All else is unavailable. No panorama, no Zoom 1, no Zoom 2. Back on the phone. Got the tech support. Sure enough, the woman (different person from the other two) tells me that those are now the only two options. No more Zoom 1, Zoom 2, or Panorama. Dang. The cable box chooses my picture size. Life sucks. But at least I saved 50 bucks and didn't have the cable guy come out.

(Next time, I'm having the cable guy.)


Brent McKee said...

There are things you can do yourself and things you need an expert for. Installing cable boxes and flooring are two of those.

Anonymous said...

I had a similar experience with my new LCD flat screen a little less that a year ago. The cable guy that came to install the HD box said that I hadn't bought an HD TV.

I showed him the receipt from Best Buy and the carton the set came in. Both plainly said, "High Definition TV."

"Nope." He shook his head. "They're wrong. It's not an HD TV." Then he accidentally knocked a twenty-inch hole in my wall trying to install a new outlet.

Needless to say, the setup didn't work when he left. I ended up hiring a guy who specializes in A/V installations. He got everything working correctly in two trips of about two hours each. He spent most of the time on the phone with the cable company and the manufacturer of the TV.

--Harry H.

Unknown said...

Hey, Harry, next time call me! I charge less than those cable and AV guys, and I won't knock a hole in your wall. Actually, the reason I did it myself was the fact that the guy the cable company sent with out digital boxes didn't have a clue about installation. After he left, I finally got things fixed correctly.

Kent Morgan said...

Bill, before you bought a new TV maybe you should have done what I did when my picture went to hell. My Sony is about 12 years old and had never given me any problems. I went on the Internet to a TV troubleshooter page and typed in what the problem was. The person who replied to my help message told me to bang the top and sides of the set very hard several times. Guess what, the picture returned to perfect. Since then I had to follow his instructions a couple of more times and my TV is working well.

As for installations, we have an excellent cable company, Shaw, here in Manitoba and their installation and support people are great. This may be because competition is fierce between it and our provincial telecommunication company, MTS, for TV, Internet and phone services. I pay about $100 a month to Shaw for highspeed internet and cable service that includes about 100 channels including several digital channels. My phone is with MTS which had a monopoly on phone service until a few years ago. Now both companies are battling to get customers to buy all the services from one place. As I don't use long distance very often, I probably won't switch.

Unknown said...

I tried the old "bang on the set" technique. Didn't work.