New TV Sets

Have things improved since I wrote this over 10 years ago?


A lot of people are completely clueless when it comes to buying a new TV.

Take this neighbour of mine who just bought a new TV and VCR.

I was called to install them at 6:30pm last night. "But all I can do is sit and follow the instructions which you can do just as easily! If you haven't managed by tomorrow call and I'll come round and help", I said.

Tomorrow arrived and I was called. "We stayed up till midnight trying to tune in the TV but we failed...please come and help".

The set was an imposing silvery coloured Hitachi, 28 inch widescreen with an Aiwa VCR

Much talk about digital followed and I was interested to see reception of On-Digital which is reported to be not possible for our postcode.

I'm surprised you didn't get a 32 inch I said as your old set was a 28 inch. That was their first mistake... it turned out. They should have got a 32 inch not a 28 inch.

I flipped through the pages of the instruction book. No mention of digital. "This isn't a digital set", I remarked. Second mistake!

"This instruction book is dreadful", I said. "Here's another", was the response. Seemingly the manufacturers had produced a simplified copy on a separate sheet. "This is just as bad", I said I can't understand it.

So I tried by trial and error to tune in the various local stations and tune in the VCR and set its name from "BBC1" to "VCR" and tune in the satellite and set its name to "SAT" instead of "DISCOV". Name setting was awful and why on earth can't manufacturers use teletext to determine channel number settings as well as station names. Round here BBC1 and Channel 4 are always reversed when "AUTO TUNE" is used and the sorting feature supplied is beyond most people. Most families rely on a youngster to do this for them.

I moved the SCART from 2 to 1 because there was no colour and a lot of patterning. "That's OK", was the comment, "You just press "DISPLAY" on the satellite zapper and the colour comes back. "No it doesn't", I said all you're doing is switching off the SCART and seeing Channel 4. Presumably SCART 2 was set to SVHS but I didn't have all morning to find this out in the instruction book.

Changing to SCART 1 resulted in colour satellite pictures (analogue versions and all free ones of course) and a decent Channel 5 picture because terrestrial is hopeless in this area.

Next I tackled the job of tuning in satellite on the new VCR. This was quite easy except I kept getting "LOCKED ...TYPE IN THE PIN". "That came up last night", was the retort.

"What are these VCR buttons on the TV remote?", I was asked. "Sorry you've got an Aiwa VCR and these buttons are only good for Hitachi VCRs", I said after checking in the instruction book. "Some manufacturers allow you to set these for a range of VCRs, but unless it's a feature hidden in the instruction book, Hitachi don't allow it", I explained.

I then thought I'd get rid of unwanted preset stations on the TV but the set either doesn't allow this or the manual had disguised the fact.

The moral I suppose is to never buy anything without a bit of research and just because the box is very big doesn't mean the picture will be any bigger than your old set. The word "digital" is the latest buzz word and can mean virtually anything. Some old sets use this to describe their stupid microprocessor driven circuitry and computer monitors are often described as "digital" but they're not they're, quite definitely "analogue". Digital monitors went out with the Ark and the old EGA designs of the 80s.

Finally 16:9 widescreen. This is REALLY DREADFUL. It is impossible to get a decent picture without little squat men and women running around the screen or just the top bit of subtitles if you stretch the height. The number of lines in the stretched mode is a lot less than 625 and therefore the definition suffers so why should we put up with this! Setting the picture to "AUTO" won't help because, I understand, there isn't a consistent way for the set to determine what is best. When I set this Hitachi TV to 4:3 there was of course an objectionable black bar at either side of the picture....more objectionable than they might have been because the EW correction was poor and the sides of the picture were bowed in and at this setting the picture didn't seem as big as a normal 24 inch one. I must admit to listening out for fizzing noises as these usually accompany lost width in an ordinary set.

The TV was also able to be set to 14:9 but this also showed black bars. If loss of height when the frame chip is feeling poorly, resulting in horizontal black bars makes people rush off to get their set fixed, surely not only are vertical black bars totally unacceptable but when we're watching widescreen on a 4:3 set it's a poor show on the part of the broadcasters to make us watch our TV as if the frame circuit is broken!


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