Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Hardware Challenged

I found a great, cheap DVD player for our small TV. It was about $40. What a deal. I remember when you couldn�t touch these things without plunking down 200 frog skins. (I know, I know, we are the last family in the subdivision, maybe the state, to purchase a DVD player.)

Where they confuse you is on the connectivity. Ever try to hook one of these puppies to a pre-DVD TV? It�s a challenge, or it was for me. I may be hardware challenged. Anything software I can usually handle but don�t confuse me with wires and switches.

I got it home and looked for the left and right stereo inputs to the television. There aren�t any. There were just two inputs and I had three outputs. What's a hardware challenged person to do? I had an RF connection, maybe I needed a unit that could connect to it.

Then I went back to the store and bought a more expensive DVD with an RF connector for my old TV that doesn�t have s-video. I did glance at some more hardware, it gave me chills. There's something called a "modulator" but it looked more complicated than the DVD and it cost $16 bucks. I just imagined all these wires all over the place. The device also had lights in the front and a CH3/CH4 switch. Can you imagine staring at this thing while trying to watch television? It's got more blinking lights then an airport runway.

So I bought a sleek $150 DVD player/recorder with RF connectors. It had a bunch of other inputs and outputs but I tried not to stare at them.

When I got it home I discovered that while I had more inputs and outputs than I knew what to do with, I didn�t have all the cables, specifically the RF cable. By this time I�ve boxed up the first recorder. It was then that I realized I could connect the left input with the video and have it working.

At that point it dawned on me that my cheaper recorder could be used the same way. Soooo, I boxed up the expensive one and un-boxed the cheap one and hooked it up. Now all I have to do is return the second one. Trouble is, I spent nearly an hour in the store trying to figure out which model I wanted and now I have to go back spend more time in the return line. I wish they�d just make all the devices have all the connections you�d ever want or need. You could hook them up to old TVs with RF inputs, new computers, and new home theater systems. Oh, and include all the cables too. Don�t make me think.

I was exhausted. By now it�s 12:00 a.m. I take a shower, load the DVD I got from the store and I�m ready for some entertainment. Except, I realize about 20 minutes into the show that I�ve just rented a sappy DVD. I couldn�t tell from the jacket but it was basically an advertisement for a church. It was some kind of a home grown flick.

What a disappointment this turned out to be. Makes a guy want to abandon all things electronic. There is one interesting thing about the expensive unit. All these things have a built-in clock. I don't know why the manufacturers think you need one. I end up putting black tape on them. Well this one knew what time it was as soon as I plugged it in. I swear, it�s true, I'm not making this up. How do they do that?

"I always arrive late at the office, but I make up for it by leaving early." - Charles Lamb.