We Live in the Future: Media Consumption

A couple of days ago, I came home from work and the kids’ swim lessons to a broken television. Yes, the 4-year old set we purchased from Costco for about $600 had a dead video board (according to Vizio tech support) and would cost around $200-$300 to repair. I told my self (not the tech support guy) that he was out of his fricking mind if I was going to pay that much to repair a 4-year old set.

A Different Ballgame

Before I do that, let me say something. Before I called tech support, I scoured the Internet looking for solutions in online forums and the like. Lots of people were disgruntled with their Vizio purchases (my set was a Vizio set, so those are the results I was inevitably looking at). “I’ll never buy another Vizio television”. Okay, that’s fine. “These televisions should last longer than 2 years. This is an outrage”. Agreed. “I still have a television from 15 years ago and it still works just fine”. And…stop right there.

Let’s think about that. (First, let me preface this by saying I am NOT a television technology person. I know the very basics of this stuff, so pardon me if I get the tech wrong.) Televisions made 15 years ago were made from tubes. They were heavy, monstrously big, and pretty dumb in terms of technology. They were analog devices that ran off analog frequencies. No real smarts about them. Then came digital cable, which we still routed through coax cables into these analog devices. Then, digital inputs (both audio and video) and the modern digital television was born.

The television sets of today are computers, plain and simple. Do you have a computer right now that is 10 years old that still does its job the same way it did back when you go it new. Of course not, they’re slow and antiquated, and can’t do a whole lot. (By the way, 10 years ago was 2001. Does’t seem like that long ago. Yet, in technology, that was lifetimes ago.)

I liken it to the modern automobile. I’m sure our parents’ generation remembers when you could open up the hood of a car and fix anything that was wrong with it, assuming the person had the right mechanic’s knowledge. Anything could be fixed with a socket wrench and some sweat. That period is long gone. Ever opened up the hood of a modern, mainstream car? Some manufacturers don’t even show you the damn engine anymore. Cars are computers now. They run via computers. They’re diagnosed by computers. They are sometimes fixed by computers. It’s a different ballgame.

It Mattered Little

During the week, there’s not a lot of time for me to go shopping for a new TV. So, we didn’t have a television for Wednesday night (the day I discovered it was broken), Thursday night, or Friday night. Normally, this would cause havoc in our household. How could we share a viewing experience if there was no centralized set? How would we watch our shows? This is where technology stepped in.

Jayme and I watched a couple of shows on Hulu+ from my iPad. The next day, the kids watched what they wanted to watch from the computer. And Friday night, when I was alone and eating dinner, I brought my iPad in the kitchen and watched a Netflix documentary I wanted to watch right there. We didn’t miss a beat.

I’m not arguing against a television, mind you. It’s a great thing to have that set up there where everyone can watch the big screen and listen to it throughout the room, without having to strain their ears. I mean, let’s face it, the iPad is a personal device. It’s not meant to take the place of a television. And yet, in our hour of need (sounds pathetic, doesn’t it?), it served as just that.

And it’s not just the iPad. We have our computers and our phones to watch and listen to media wherever we are. No longer do you have to watch television shows and like in that one place. You can watch it wherever you want. Granted, we like to watch the shows we like together in the living room on the television, but there are things that I watch and/or listen to on one of these devices.

It’s just cool, that’s all I’m saying.

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One thought on “We Live in the Future: Media Consumption

  1. It’s funny – I haven’t had cable in almost 5 years. 3 1/2 of those years I didn’t even have a television – just a computer monitor. The only reason I have one now is that my dad thought it was ridiculous for me to watch tv on a computer monitor. So now I have the fancy tv, which is only hooked into my computer, and basically just used as a giant monitor. And I probably watch more tv in bed on my ipod than I do on my “tv.” The nice thing is, I’m no longer tied to the tv. I can go weeks without watching anything! And then I only watch stuff I’m really excited to see. Liberating! Even better than tivo. 🙂

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