Channel shopping

31Jan12

As I was shopping for groceries I noticed that the supermarket was selling ‘set top boxes’. They were reduced, because almost everyone in the developed world has now got digital TV, except luddites and cantankerous misanthropes and it is very unlikely that anyone who shops there would fit into either category.

I popped one into my basket, with the teabags.

It probably won’t work, I surmised, but at that price I could recycle it as a luxury tablemat. At least I will be able to confirm that I need a new TV aerial and a new length of coaxial cable and a new TV in time for the Olympics… assuming that I have time to go through the rigmarole of setting it up and trying to find a decent signal through the blizzard of gamma rays.

Back at home I unpacked the device. It was even smaller out of the box – possibly large enough to stand a small flowerpot on.

Teenage son took control. In less than five minutes he was scrolling through dozens of channels. Many more than the four or five analogue channels we used to get when there weren’t too many leaves on the trees outside.

He demonstrated that I could satisfy my current affairs addiction by flicking through BBC News, Russia Today and Al Jazeera. He also pointed out that there are a number of Adult Channels in the upper reaches of the menu, but they only broadcast late at night. He was remarkably well-informed for a teenager who never watched TV.

The signal was strong and interference-free. Could there have been a conspiracy to reduce the power of the analogue signal over the last few years to drive us into the arms of the flat-screen TV industry…?

I’m glad I resisted the siren-call of skinny plasma screens and wafer-thin LCDs. It would have been impossible to balance the set top box on one of those. Fortunately it can sit very comfortably on top of our venerable cathode ray tube.

Now I must get back to work. I’ve told Mrs R that I have to stay up late to get things done.

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5 Responses to “Channel shopping”

  1. Funny you posting about cheap set top boxes and thinking it would not work, My hubby purchased an aerial off the internet as it was half price and thought the same if it did not work we could use it as a coaster. It appears to be a piece of cardboard with a circular plastic bit on the bottom and then a lead which plugs into the aerial. We tuned it in and discovered we can now get TV upstairs where as before we had none. Must be the week of freeview typw bargains.

  2. Glad you can now get TV upstairs 🙂

    I didn’t even think of trying to make an aerial out of cardboard! I did think that tinfoil might help… and I know that it is possible to boost a poor wi-fi signal with a baking tray from the kitchen.

  3. I have a theory, it may be Stephenson’s 3rd Law, that consumer electronics reach their optimum ease of use 2 years before they become obsolete.


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