the itjerk

my adventures with technology

Tag Archives: hd

high definition tv

After spending the last decade on a standard tube and then a projector, I’ve finally made the move to high-definition television with the purchase of the LG 55B7200 LED TV. I didn’t put a whole lot of research into what brand or model to get, just took a drive down to the local Microcenter and looked around. It ends up that the store has a partnership with LG, which explains why they only carry that brand (with the exception of some cheapies like Westinghouse), and why it saved me about $200 off the lowest price I could find online. With 3 year basic warranty, the TV ran me $998 plus tax. Anyway, don’t you think that most of these boxes come out of all the same factories? Even I like the illusion of an easy decision sometimes!

The TV is 55″, 1080p, 3D, LED, etc. and has 3 HDMI inputs. The “magic remote” is quite nice, and claims to also pair as a universal remote with my other gear. It’s also a “Smart TV”, that uses WebOS, something that has its roots in the Palm devices of yesteryear (via HP). That’s all fine, but I wish it would support Adobe Flash. Went to watch a back episode of The Blacklist through the integrated web browser and couldn’t. At any rate, the apps are for the most part limiting when compared to the web versions, so I’ll be looking at Google’s Chromecast in the next few days. It was very light, maybe 40 lbs, connected to my wifi right away, and I strung a HDMI line to my Marantz home theatre receiver and coax cable from my antennae in the attic. I will want to send audio from the TV to the receiver, but need a cable!

Bottom line is the picture looks great, I didn’t break the bank to get it, and it’s very easy to use. What more to ask for?

I’ll tell you. On a recent trip to Microcenter, I saw that the price of the TV dropped $100 (to $799). I went to the service desk and lo and behold, their 30 day price guarantee put a refund back on my credit card, right then and there. Thank you Microcenter!


free television

Ever since I ordered my coupon for a digital converter box from the government, we’ve enjoyed not only a significant step-up in quality to our off-air television, but a boatload of new channels – all for $25 bucks. The next step, which just so happens to coincide with some major house renovations, is a roof-top antenna.

The place to start is AntennaWeb. It’s an industry (CEA) sponsored site that assists you in finding out everything about off-air television reception, simply by entering your street address and zip code. offers the same information in a more graphic presentation. I live on the north side of Chicago and fortunately enough, the vast majority of signals I receive all emanate from the Sears Tower (CBS2 is the odd one out). I’m now empowered with information to make my antenna purchase a lot easier: the vast majority of television signals in my area are about 4-5 miles from my home, with a compass heading of 142 – 158 degrees and they fall into the “yellow” band. Now I know exactly what will be required of my antenna, and where to place it. I probably don’t have to worry about range, and may even experience some over-saturation if the antenna has too much gain. It also looks like a directional antenna will do.

After checking out Radio Shack‘s website, I wanted to find out more about antennas. First, I found the big three: Antennas Direct, Winegard, and Channel Master. Then I stumbled upon Denny’s Antenna Service. His site offers a wealth of information about television antennas, and he’ll even send you a personalized recommendation. For now, it looks like the EZ-HD Antenna is a top contender. Imagine, free, high definition television forever, all for a one-time purchase of $59.00.

Here’s what off-air reception entails:

  • VHF – Very high frequency, channels 2 – 13. Indoors, these are “rabbit ears”. There are two spectra: low, 2-6 and high, 7-13. According to Denny, you’ll have at least one channel in this range, so plan on an antenna that has VHF reception as well UHF.
  • UHF – Ultra high frequency, channels above 13. Indoors, this is the circular element. This is where the majority of television is broadcast.
  • FM – Frequency Modulation, good ol’ radio. I’ll be adding this to my roof set as well.

I’m old enough to remember buying our first color television with my father. Back then, we had exactly five television stations: the three major networks, a PBS affiliate, and one independent station, Channel 18. Since then, cable and satellite have all but overtaken off-air transmission. The government – especially the FCC – doesn’t do a lot of things right, but the conversion to digital transmission offers not only free high-definition television, but a new lease to off-air reception. Hurry now, as of this post you have exactly 100 days until analog tv is shut off for good!