I woke up Sunday morning to my wife asking me for the password to my laptop, so she could put on a DVD for the toddler; and said toddler explaining in great detail how the TV doesn't turn on when you press the button. The TV had served pretty well for 9 years, but lately it had been showing signs of decay — the lower-left corner was perpetually out of focus, the image would very slightly and very occasionally "fuzz" for just a second), but it had finally given up the ghost.
On the one hand, I had hoped it would survive long enough for 3D technology to mature and become the "standard". On the other, if it's going to die, the week leading up to Father's Day, with the corresponding retail sales, isn't a bad time to do it.
Yesterday, we went out to a certain big electronics store known for blue and yellow polo shirts and compared TVs. Because of where we were putting the TV, we had a fixed size limit. A 50" might have barely fit the space, with a fraction of an inch to spare, but we didn't really want to cut it that close — the kids would be bumping it into the walls with reckless abandon. LED screens did provide a sharper, higher-contrast picture than the plain LCDs, but the technology is still new enough that the price difference was pretty large. In the end, our eyes were drawn to the Samsung models, especially since the quality of the LCD model was quite comparable to the LED (and both models seemed to outshine other brands, both LED and LCD).
Long story short, we brought home the reasonably-on-sale TV and the not-on-sale mount, and paid for Best Buy to come and recycle the old TV. I had figured we would wait for them to remove the old behemoth before we installed the new one, but my wife was insistent on installing it immediately. (Excited for the new TV, or desperate to entertain the kids — you make the call.) We were less than gentle in rolling the old TV out of place (what are we going to do, break it?) and managed to get the new one set up with a minimum of finger-smashing incidents.
We hooked it up to the DVD player and the Xbox, and I spent a little bit of time viewing the videos from E3 and playing the game that happened to be in the disc drive before going to bed. I have to say, it was like getting a new pair of glasses. Everything is much brighter, sharper, clearer, easier to see. I used to complain about the Xbox dashboard and being unable to read the dark-grey-on-light-grey 6-point text (especially since it fell in the out-of-focus area on the old TV), but now, even though I still think it's a less-than-optimal color scheme, I have to say it's insanely easy to read when the letters actually have edges. The game, too, was exceptionally clear and sharp.
The only down side? (Well, besides the knowledge that 3D is coming, and it probably won't be too long that I'll find myself a generation behind again.) My wife wants a blu-ray player to go with it now.