Last weekend I reluctantly undertook the unpleasant task of buying a new television. The task was unpleasant for several reasons: I have a countercultural aversion to updating electronic devices; I hate shopping; and I especially hate shopping at the only area retailer that sells televisions, a particularly repellent megastore headquartered in Arkansas.
The purchase was prompted by the fact that at least two of Vermont’s leading television stations — Vermont Public Television and WCAX in Burlington — switched from analog to digital broadcasting on February 17. (Surprisingly, the law passed by the U.S. Congress to delay the digital switchover to June 12 had no effect on Vermont broadcasters. Since the law merely permitted but did not mandate the delay, it was ignored by Vermont Public Television and WCAX.)
Like many rural residents, we discovered that the new digital signals don’t travel as far as the old analog signals. Once WCAX made the switch to digital, we got no signal at all from the broadcast tower on Mount Mansfield, even when we connected a new digital converter box to a rotating rooftop antenna.
For years, my two kids have lived with three English-language television stations: Vermont Public Television, WCAX from Burlington, and Channel 11 from Montreal — a station that still uses analog broadcasting. We all soon got tired of unplugging the antenna wire from the back of the set — where the antenna needed to be connected to receive the Canadian analog broadcast — and plugging it into the converter box to get the digital broadcast from Vermont Public Television. Hence the trip to Wal-Mart.
Our 14-year-old television is a Panasonic with a 12-by-17-inch screen. According to my portable watt meter, the television generally draws between 60 and 69 watts.
I didn’t want a bigger TV, but I did want a TV that could process both…