Some like it hot, others in 3D: our Christmas presents to ourselves
The Christmas tree has been decommissioned for over a week now so it is time to look back on our festivities. And no, we are not late, we are ‘structured procrastinators’ – doesn’t matter what this means, I like the sound of it.
Before Christmas, we had two ‘lucky’ emergencies. First, our Krups XP 2070 coffee machine died. Well it coughed anyway. It made nice coffee – most of the time. But we had had problems with it, it leaked water, had to have some valves replaced and we were without a machine for ages as it went off to Liverpool and came back with the wrong water container. Every now and again we cleaned it with our ‘Axis of Evil’ cleaning fluid (citric acid from Iran which we could buy only in the Turkish shop) even though our water is ultra soft.
Coffee in our house is taken very seriously and almost intravenously (yes we know about its ill effects but what is life for?). So after a little research we decided to go and look in the nearby John Lewis. The result was our new coffee machine, a DeLonghi Magnifica, which is bean-to-cup, pretty automatic and doesn’t leak. It also set us back £342 (about $550) so we counted this as a mutual Xmas present and thought no more about it.
Then, just before Xmas and after 16 years, our trusty old Sony 28” TV died. There had been an economic case for a new TV set for some time. Our old Sony used about 350 watts when it on – and even a few tens when it was on standby. It was a product of its time !. All new TVs, flat screen and LEDs, are more economical than plasma. It would have to be a 1080p High Definition TV. Anything less would be frustrating and we had seen what an HDMI screen could do for our son’s Raspberry Pi (btw, this is a computer; kind of).
Maria’s immediate response was – get the cheapest one, which for an HD reasonable sized TV put it at about £300 ($476). On the other hand, I have long been a fan of 3D. In fact I call if 4D sometimes just to be awkward – we have to include time of course. I know not all movies suit it but as a geek, I like the idea of some depth to my pictures. This from someone profoundly connected to black and white photography but then who said all my likes make sense?
Many years ago I was impressed by some design software on a Silicon Graphics workstation which showed 6 dimensions on the screen – yes 6D. That was of an aircraft wing and included colour, weightless coloured particle flows and time of course. It used the then very new shutter glasses that were synchronised to the monitor, switching between left and right eyes.
This is now known as Active 3D, as opposed to the polarised glasses – or passive 3D – that we use in the cinema. But active 3D glasses are expensive, heavy, require a battery and demand a really high speed screen to avoid flicker – the screen frequency is halved when in 3D mode. Passive 3D, which uses polarised light and the same glasses as the cinema, in effect lowers the linear pixel density by √2 when used, and is fine with a lower screen frequency.
So passive 3D, LED, 1080p HD and a decent size it was. And while we were at it, something that could be connected to the internet would make video streaming much better than being cramped up with a laptop, cozy though that is some times.
A little research had led me to the LG 42LM620T but that was over £500 (about $800). This could be connected to the internet by a wireless dongle. So I mentioned this idea to Maria and left her to sleep on it. As someone who has loads of laptops, iToys, Kindles and other things, sure enough – the next day she woke up and said – OK go for the smart TV. 3D? Why not.
I didn’t need any further encouragement. While there were cheaper sources, trusty John Lewis was again the best place as not only did they have them in stock but included a 5 year warranty, otherwise many hundreds of pounds extra.
Off I went to get it and, £569 ($900) lighter, had some fun installing it and took the old telly off to the tip for proper recycling. The only problem was that the TV needed an LG dongle to connect to the internet, or a direct Cat5 cable. Rather than shell out £50 ($80) I resurrected an old Mac mini and bridged the cable to the wireless. Hey presto!
We now have a new telly and it is very nice indeed – in time for Xmas and viewing old movies. The most important thing though is that Maria can actually see the screen and loves it, not that she has much time to watch it. But when she does she insists to watch everything in 3D even if it is not broadcast that way!
After over £1000, probably our most expensive Xmas ever, we hope to be able to enjoy decent coffee and good TV for many years to come. Just nothing under the tree for us this year!