RT Cunningham


The Modern Television is so much more than a Simple Broadcast Receiver

modern television

There are more types of television sets than I can list here. According to Wikipedia, the term “television” can refer to a television set as well as the medium. Many Americans simply say “TV”, “TV show” and other simple terms.

Before 16:9 aspect ratio and other wide-screen broadcasts became commonplace, a TV set was a rectangular shape, closer to a square than modern sets. You can still find sets like that in the Philippines, sold as surplus items. I don’t know where else you can find them.

The Modern Television is a Multimedia Receiver

There are two types of TV: The Regular TV and the Smart TV. There are multiple maximum resolutions available. The first generation TVs not withstanding, you have high-definition with various resolutions. The most common today is 1080 pixels. I have no idea what the most common will be a year from now.

The modern television can receive signals from broadcast television stations, cable television services, Internet-only services, video game consoles and computers. The signals can be wired or wireless. HDMI ports are used more often than other connectors because they can process both audio and video signals.

There are several video streaming devices available: The Google Chromecast, the Amazon Fire TV Stick, the ROKU Streaming Stick and the Nvidia Shield (which is more than a streaming stick). I doubt I’ve listed them all. Some gaming consoles can be used for streaming video as well.

My older son, Joseph, has an XBox something hooked up to his huge TV so his family (not counting his parents) can play video games together. Another HDMI port is being used by his Amazon Fire TV Stick (which he calls “fire stick”). He has a Netflix subscription and an Amazon Prime subscription (I don’t think he watches Prime videos but I could be wrong).

Joseph has so much media going into his TV that when he wants to punish his children, he simply tells them “no media” for some set amount of time.

The Modern Television as a Computer Monitor

I actually used it as such for one of my laptops in the Philippines. The screen was washed out and to use that laptop without wanting to pull my eyes out of their sockets, I had to project it to our 42-inch wide-screen television.

It doesn’t make sense to use a TV to broadcast the display from laptop computers regularly. With other types of desktop PCs, it may make all the sense in the world. A small TV is still bigger than most computer monitors. If you use one with a tower PC or a keyboard PC (where the computer is in the keyboard), it can double as a computer monitor and a multimedia receiver.

The Modern Television with a Computer Stick

Relatively new on the scene are computer sticks. If you get the right one, you can save a bundle of money. You plug the stick into an HDMI port on the television and use its Bluetooth feature to connect a keyboard and a mouse. You can sit at your living room sofa, plop the keyboard and mouse down on the coffee table and get to work. I wouldn’t do it that way, of course.

I would prefer to use a small television with a computer stick and in a more private area of the house. For me, the idea is to get rid of as many wires as possible. I can live comfortably with only one wire connected to an electrical outlet. It’s less to trip over and yes, I’m clumsy.

Ancient Television

I suppose it would be ancient to millennials, but I lived it. Before I joined the military in 1978, my family (my parents’ family, obviously) received four network stations and at least one independent station. We were lucky to live between Phoenix and Tucson in Arizona. We received the same networks from both cities. The prime-time offerings were identical but the non prime-time offerings were almost always different.

There were 13 VHF stations and I don’t know how many UHF stations. We could only receive nine VHF stations and one UHF station clearly. Here are some quotes from 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past that are extremely relevant:

Hank McCoy: I rigged up this communications device to allow us to see all the networks America is airing!

Logan: [sarcastically] Wow, all three networks.

Hank McCoy: And PBS!

Today, none of us watch network television because we don’t watch broadcast TV. If isn’t being streamed, it doesn’t get seen (unless it’s being seen at a network website).

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RT Cunningham
July 18, 2018
Technology