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!

15 thoughts on “Some like it hot, others in 3D: our Christmas presents to ourselves”

  1. Between the coffee and television, you’ can be up all night! I’m the only one in my house who drinks coffee, so I invested in a Keurig. For the last several years I’ve liked it, but only for the convenience. Now I’m craving some better quality coffee! I think I’ve had mediocre coffee for so long I’m starting to forget what the good stuff tastes like. It sounds like your machine makes premium stuff. Yum.

    1. Thanks for dropping by @AJ.  The machine is certainly excellent so far.  We use Columbian coffee beans from CostCo,  Some beans are quite bitter we find and others just bland – you may as well drink instant!

  2. I bought my BF a coffee machine as well for Christmas, he was one happy camper. Looks like you got two great items of which you will get tremendous value over the next years, enjoy!

    1. Hi @Pauline.  The  TV is particularly nice although I haven’t quite worked out why, on a 3D TV, the picture appears to be behind the screen (it looks as if you are looking through a window) while in the cinema the picture is both behind and comes out – we went to see The Hobbit the other day.  I will have to think about this.  It may be that if we sit very close to the TV (so that it is as wide as it appears in the cinema), we will get the same effect.  The technology is the same!

  3. About 10 years ago, our TV went too.  My wife agreed to replace it with a LCD TV.  I shopped it pretty hard and was able to get  a 40% discount through price matching.  It was a really sweet deal!  Now the problem is I want to replace it bit it just keeps going like the energizer bunny.  I guess I will have to wait a few more years for a LED.  I imagine the new ultra HD will be cheaper by then.

    1. Hi @KC  – we looked around and we could have got it a little cheaper but it would have meant waiting for delivery which was uncertain just before Xmas.  I think LG have just brought out a successor with the WiFi built in but I’ve got round that anyway :-).  The point of using John Lewis, which is a large up-market co-operative company over here, is that it included a 5 year guarantee so this was I think the best deal around.  But you have to look!  10 years ago flat screens were pretty expensive though!

  4. I like the sound of “Structured procrastinators” too. I am going to use it to describe myself 🙂
    I have not looked at TV prices, but $900 for a 42 inch smart 3D TV sounds very reasonable. My cousin recently got a 55 inch Sony 3D tv, if I not wrong he paid close to $2000. We got a new DeLonghi coffee machine ourselves during thanksgiving sale in the US. My husband takes his coffee very seriously and it was sort of his brithday+holiday gift.

    1. Hi @Suba – you could almost consider structured procrastinator as an oxymoron!  To procrastinate means to put it off but if you do within a structure, is it putting it off or just re-scheduling it?  Anyway it is an interesting concept.  We looked at larger TVs but not only do they tend to occupy the room but also they are that much more expensive – a substantial part of the cost becomes the number of boxes you can get into a container!  It becomes almost cost-effective to use a TV projector but they are quite expensive to run.  So 42″ is big enough for us.  And Sony only make active 3D so you can’t have all your friends round (or son’s friends round) to watch a movie without buying a load of glasses….

  5. I guess it must be a universal problem that once we spend some money on ourselves we end up having to buy something that we didn’t anticipate!  Based on how long you held on to your television, I don’t think it should have been an issue spending a little more on it.  My philosophy has always been if it is something you use on a daily basis or at least often, then it is okay to splurge once in a while!

    1. HI @David – yes we don’t feel bad about it, even if it was quite a bit of money.  It is so much nicer, particularly when viewing HD channels.  At the moment there are only 4 available in the UK but this will grow as the old analogue bandwidths are re-allocated, some to 4G and some to TV.

  6. I think it’s reasonable to upgrade your tv after 16 years! Personally I’m not a big fan of 3D TVs so I didn’t buy one when I upgraded last year, but if it really starts to catch on over the next few years I may find myself upgrading again! 

    1. Not everything it made in 3D but if you switch the box into 3D, the TV seems to process the picture somehow so it looks as if it is in 3D.  That’s Maria’s excuse for sitting there anyway:-). News is in 3D, as are most reality shows although we don’t watch them!

  7. Many laughs here…I once kept my Christmas tree up until March. By then, it was completely bare.
    and FYI – I’m stealing your 4D line…just to be awkward.

    1. Hmm.  By March you may as well keep it until the next year!  I can’t think what the floor must have looked like though.  With the heating on at Xmas, the trees do dry out and drop their needles, even the ones which claim they don’t!  Feel free with the 4D line – glad you enjoyed it!

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