Freddy Cloud

Frederick (“Freddy”) Cloud has had a passion for all things electronic since he “accidently” caused the class Commodore PET to malfunction in 8th grade.

“I swear. I didn’t do it on purpose” He was quoted as saying to a very unhappy computer teacher…

Read his full bio

Accessory essentials for that shiny new flat-screen TV

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Oh, so you were EXTRA good this year, and Santa brought you a big, shiny, new flat-screen TV? Nice! Way better than that 32” tube that you’ve been holding on to. It’s time to put that puppy down and place your new TV in its place of honor! BUT … yeah, there’s always a BUT … if you REALLY want to enjoy that new screen, there’s a few itty-bitty things you probably (translation: definitely) want to look into first …

1) Cables. No, not power … that came with the TV. I’m talking about what you use to hook up things TO your TV. Since this is an HDTV, you’ll need to use something other than the coaxial cable you used with your cable box, or the red/white/yellow cable that came with your VCR.  You’re going to need either component cables (they’re red, green and blue and sometimes have white and red for your audio), or my favorite, HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) cables. And by the way, you don’t have to buy the Monster brand from Best Buy to get a “good” cable; you don’t have to spend a fortune for a cable. I get my cables from Monoprice. Very reasonably priced, and they’re awesome cables. And speaking of hooking things up to the TV …

2) Cable/Satellite Box. OK, look, I know “renting” a cable/satellite box for a non-HD TV is bad enough, but if you want to actually SEE HD on your new HDTV, you’re going to have to get a HD box. You don’t have to get the one with the DVR if you don’t need that functionality, but seriously … how much did that TV cost? Isn’t the point of an HDTV to, I don’t know, watch things in HD? Upgrade the box!

3) Get rid of the VCR. I won’t even go into detail.

4) DVD vs. Blu-ray. So you probably already have a DVD player; I think they started giving them away with Happy Meals, they’ve become so inexpensive. And yeah, it will work with your new TV, but I want you to consider getting a Blu-Ray player. I said CONSIDER. I’m going to be honest; the difference between Blu-ray and DVD isn’t as pronounced as the difference between VHS and DVD, but there IS a difference. The picture is sharper and cleaner because of the increased resolution of Blu-ray, and the sound is a bit better. And they aren’t that expensive … many are well below $100. This one is optional, but you should entertain it.

5) Sound Bar. I can’t tell you what my TV speakers sound like, because I know they sound like crap. I’ve seen very few flat-screen TV’s that had speakers worth talking about. I have surround-sound set up and a receiver, but if you don’t want to spend that much money, invest in a sound bar. Some even come with a subwoofer so you can hear more bass. This is something else to log under “consider”, but you may REALLY want to consider it if you’re a sound-hound.

There are other things you can get like a mounting bracket, TV stand, etc. You can also get gadgets to stream things like Hulu and Netflix, but depending on your television that may not be necessary. Quite a few of the newer flat-screens connect to the Internet and have built-in apps for that. If yours doesn’t, think about getting a Roku or an Apple TV. Even the Xbox 360, Wii and PlayStation 3 have streaming applications, as does quite a few Blu-ray players. Also, keep in mind how many inputs your television has. It’s a pain to find out you’re out of inputs AFTER your new gadget arrives.

I hate when people buy a new television and then end up disappointed because they’ve hooked up they’re old stuff (you know, like a VCR) and it doesn’t look as good as they hoped. Do some preparation and you’ll be able to enjoy your new gift for years to come!

Talk to you soon!

Freddy C.

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