It Takes 6-Hours to Set up a TV? and the "Cord Fairy"

My entry into the world of high-definition continued last weekend and let me say that setting up a new TV and plugging in the various peripherals we own was not easy.  To set the scene properly, start the music from the Nutcracker Ballet going on your internal MP3 player.   First there was the task of dismantling our old set-up with the digital projector.  Since I’m the smaller of the pair between me and my husband, I had to venture behind the electronics pile to disconnect the stereo, the Tivo, the cable box, an antennae, and the hub.  The devastation from the Cord Fairy was extensive.  We were also visited by the Dust Bunny who left an egg-size wad of sneezing fun (thank goodness for mini-shop-vacs).  This was something I didn’t want to do until we actually got the TV in place because I had no idea how I was going to remember where all these cords plugged into without disconnecting and reconnecting them into the new holes one-at-a-time.  My husband challenged the engineer in me and after a long staring contest, in which I tried my best wifely “you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me” scowl, I gave in and with reckless abandon unplugged everything and did head to head battle with the Cord Fairy and the Dust Bunny.  With everything unplugged; the components spread out and the cords laid neatly in rows before us; my husband and I  lugged the TV onto it’s thone.   *Uwahhhh* (Imagine the Christmas tree unfolding scene)  Nice … again, since I’m the smaller of the pair, I climbed into the little triangle of space behind the TV, and pulled cords and components through the TV stand as my husband placed them into the empty cubby holes.  Okay … cable out the wall and into the cable box … S-video from the cable box and into the TV.  Red and black sound from the cablebox to the Tivo.  Red and black sound from the Tivo the stereo and then to the TV.  And so it went, the marvelous weaving the cords and within a blink of an eye, the Cord Fairy had struck (Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy is the Cord Fairy’s soundtrack) … “Honey!  I need some twist ties!”  Sigh … after an hour the cords were nicely contained and it was time to turn the TV on and test the cable and Tivo connections before plugging in the X-Box 360 and the entertainment laptop.

Miracle of miracles, my engineering prowess prevailed and everything came on!  (That wiped the smirk right off my husband’s face 🙂 ).  Now, onto the X-box:  Not wanting to be outdone, my husband decided that he could fit behind the TV too if he only used his upper body.  He sat down upon the TV stand facing out towards me and then leaned back and to the side to get behind the TV to plug in the HDMI cable, after which he discovered that he couldn’t get back up as he was then propped precariously on one butt-cheek and didn’t have enough leverage.  After chuckling a bit I helped him up and he powered on the X-Box and ramped through the resolutions.  480 lines – check, 720-lines – check, 1080 lines interlacing – check, 1080 lines non-interlacing – failure.  Huh?  It turns out that 1080p is a box spec and can only be shown on the display if pushed through at 30-Hz, which none of our devices can do.  My husband pouted, but I assured him that we most likely wouldn’t be able to see a difference.  We then enjoyed a couple of Halo 3 previews in all their 1080 lines of resolution glory.  *Nice*

Onto the nightmare – the PC:  The TV comes with a VGA port to directly plug a computer into.  We connected our trusty 3 – 4-year old entertainment laptop in (it may be old in computer years, but it still has respectable specs, even for a current desktop).  At first the TV defaulted to 1024 by 768 – no!  We then ramped through the resolutions only to get no response from the TV.  We fiddled with the refresh rates and dual view and again we were able to do 1024 x 768 and a few higher resolution settings if we spread the view of the desktop onto both screens.  After 1-hour of futility we gave up and figured that maybe the laptop was too old.  So we plugged in our laptop that is ~1-yrs old.  This time we were able to get more resolution settings to work, but not to our satisfaction.  Apparently the video card in that laptop scales everything according to the native resolution of the laptop.  We were able to push 1920 x 1080 into the TV, but it was scaled from 1280 x 800, so we had to pan in order to access the edges of the desktop.  No good!  It was now time to probe deeply into the finer features of the video driver.  After much trial and error, the video card recognized the TV as a TV and reported back that the native resolution of the device is 1360 by760-ish – Huh?  We set the resolution accordingly, laughed at HP “box specs”, and then enjoyed the third installment of the “Hellsing Ultimate” OVA.  BTW:  The TV produces excellent reds, which if any of you know anything about “Hellsing”, then you understand how marvelous (in a beautiful and hideous way) red can be.

After watching “Hellsing” we came back to reality and decided that we could not keep the working laptop downstairs because it is severely infested by Cord Fairies.  This is the computer that we download entertainment content to, print from, and do everyday computing stuff with and consequently it has 2 external hard drives, a printer, speakers,  a wi-fi mouse, and now a TV plugged into it – it looked like a hardware explosion in the middle of our Spartan family room.  So it was back to the old laptop.  Using the tricks I had learned from fiddling with the driver on the newer computer I tried a different approach on the old laptop and after an a couple of hours of trial and error and then a couple of TV synchronizations I got the thing to work at 1360 x 760-ish.  Victory!  And the casualties were: 1 digital projector which took 2 cords with it and three more cords because my husband figured out how to run all the audio connections to the TV such that there only needed to be one connection to the stereo for all the video components we have. 

Some observations on the TV:  The TV by default renders color vividly.  The is great for us because this feature really makes anime “pop,” it’s but not so good watching live action content because it causes flesh tones to look unnaturally flushed or washed out against vibrant backgrounds when the vibrancy is dialed down.  Since my husband is color blind he didn’t understand what I was talking about and I don’t particularly care because the colors are rendered much better than t
he digital projector and I like “poppy” anime.  The other thing is that watching TV (broadcast and cable) on this display sucks as it would on any high-res display.  This was made worse for us because there is significant noise in the connection between our Tivo and the TV.  Another thing about this TV is that it takes FOREVER for the thing to power up and it doesn’t come on until the second attempt to power it up.  This has gotten a lot better as of yesterday.  It now powers up on the first attempt in about 30-seconds.  Perhaps there was a burn-in period ???  Overall we are very happy with our TV.  It’s great for viewing anime, playing video games, and watching hi-def content (we watched some hi-def movie previews via the X-Box 360 and they looked outstanding! – it could be that the X-Box renders better so we didn’t get the weird flesh tones.).  As for cable TV, we watch it from a great distance so as not be upset by the blurriness.



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