Tonawanda News

April 24, 2013

DUVALL: Seeing the world in high definition

By Eric DuVall
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — The plan was all set last week to make an overdue upgrade to my home’s technological capabilities. After years of pondering and weeks of planning, I was ready to buy a new, 39-inch high definition television to replace the lumbering old boob tube I’ve watched for years.

The news gods had other ideas. When terrorists attack a major American city people in the news business put off things like buying televisions in favor of rushing to the office.

But with the perpetrator safely under guard at a Boston hospital we can all go back to living life. For me, that means scrounging around to find the time to buy a television.

Of course, as things always seem to be these days, it isn’t quite that simple. 

The creaky old entertainment center in which my lumbering television sits has a square hole. The new TV will be a rectangular peg.

I could mount the TV to the wall but the only one that makes sense to mount it on faces west — and directly across from a large window that already blinds you when you walk in the room during the late afternoon.

This whole protracted process got me to thinking: Why am I buying this thing in the first place? (Other than the fact my mother offered to help pay for it as an early birthday present. Thanks Mom!)

I hardly watch television in the first place. I’m always at work in the evening, when television is worth watching. I only follow a handful of shows and these days they’re a click away online. Obviously I don’t care about picture quality since I’m presently watching in standard definition so the smaller screens on my laptop or iPad are fine.

Like most people, I’m away from the home more in summer than winter. Weekend softball games, festivals, concerts, afternoons and evenings spent drinking beer on a bar patio or a friend’s porch — all these things are vastly preferable to me than sitting in my stifling non-air-conditioned apartment, sweating and watching reruns of “How I Met Your Mother.”

That makes the timing of the purchase — albeit despite a modest boost to the bank account thanks to income tax returns — all the more strange.

Am I just keeping up with the Joneses? I go to friends’ houses to watch things like hockey games, movies and the Oscars. These friends have much nicer televisions than I do.

That doesn’t seem like the reason either. The only two people who would set eyes on this television are my roommate and I. We don’t regularly host parties at our place. It’s too small for more than 10 or so people to comfortably gather inside. And besides, New Year’s Eve excepted, I’m not much of a party-hosting kind of guy. (I’ve had a handful of friends over on First Night for several years under the premise controlling the beast that is New Year’s Eve is easier when I decide the guest list rather than some bouncer at a bar.)

Joneses be damned.

I suppose it’ll be nice to watch sports on a big, HD TV. As it stands now, all the games are broadcast in widescreen format, meaning the Sabres defenseman about to turn over the puck as he skates out of the defensive zone — or the Bills quarterback dropping back to throw an interception — does so off-screen when you’re watching in standard definition.

Sadly, just because I can’t see it on my crappy standard definition television doesn’t mean it isn’t about to happen.

If there’s a perk, it’ll be that I can watch my favorite sports teams stink with greater clarity — at least in terms of picture quality. The new TV won’t be any help with the more existential questions over the focus and clarity of Buffalo’s sporting ventures.

So, really, why am I getting a new television? I guess the answer is because sometimes people just buy new televisions. How much I’ll use it remains to be seen, quite literally I suppose.

HD is nice but it doesn’t change my preference to see things in ED — Eyeball Definition.

Eric DuVall is the managing editor of the Tonawanda News. Contact him at