Roger L. Simon

Dept. of Couch Potatoes

Sheryl and I have just installed a Panasonic 42-inch plasma screen monitor in our bedroom hooked up to a Sony surround sound DVD player that shakes the bed like those old devices they used to have in motel rooms. Suddenly some of those Academy DVDs I dismissed so quickly are looking like… hey, why didn’t I vote for this? (Of course, nothing could save The Phantom of the Opera.)

We went for EDTV because, frankly, you can’t tell the difference from HDTV when you’re more than five feet from the screen (at least I couldn’t). We also bought the stripped down Sony with the wall speakers because the floor ones were just more clutter. And I don’t regret it because if the sound was any bigger, we would levitate. I have to admit the whole thing is great and just another indication that in the future no one is going to leave the house. What does this mean? I’m not sure, but I sure wish I had had the courage of my convictions a week ago and invested in this company.

Small tip to anyone contemplating this form of rank consumerism in the near future: Buy a monitor, not a TV. For those who don’t know… and among the readers of this site, judging from responses to the Firefox post just below, many people here know a helluva lot more about this than I do… the monitors do not have tuners and (usually) speakers. You don’t need them. The satellite or cable boxes have tuners and better speakers come with the surround system. You just saved yourself five to six hundred dollars.

Also, if you’re buying plasma, be prepared for relatively poor reproduction of blacks, even with the Panasonic, which is reputed to that best. Still, movies look great on it, even the “plush” The Phantom of the Opera (for five minutes until Madeleine said it was putting her to sleep).

One other thing, thus far there are only about eight HDTV channels hereabouts through Adelphia cable. One of those is some version of HBO. The surround sound plays very well through our system and the picture looks as good as the DVDs. Even better is KCET, the local PBS station. For some reason, they have mastered HDTV better than the networks.