Monday, January 10, 2005

New Year's Resolution

   I had the opportunity to do some upscale shopping this holiday season (anything above thrift-store level is upscale for me) and wound up in an "International Design" center filled with hideous ceramics, off-putting sculptures and "assistants" who were using the store computers to create promotional materials for upcoming "rave nights". In one corner of this strange establishment, was a sleek new media entertainment center, Scandinavian in origin, a large plasma display HDTV ensconsed in a sea of brushed aluminium with built-in surround speakers, tres chic, nez pas? A DVD was playing, and the friendly (lonely?) clerk in that depatment beckoned me to sit down and "savor the experience." Well, Batty usually doesn't fly that way, but what the heck! It's Christmas! (The DVD was 'Elf')

   I started watching a bit, as the now VERY FRIENDLY clerk sat nearby and started his low key pitch. "...of course this is not an inexpensive system, but it will fill all your needs for media for years to come..." We talked about HDTV, the competing systems, (US broadcast was supposed to be switched over in 2005, but has been delayed) and other video options. That was when I noticed THEM. The dreaded mpeg artifacts, crawling over smooth textured areas like the visual onset of an LSD trip. Creepy stuff. With a regular TV, I would have never noticed, but this was disturbing. The REALLY, REALLY, FRIENDLY clerk edged a little closer, whispering things like "1080i" and "Line doubling option." Then he stroked the remote and the entire monitor came to life - it began to sway and tilt, in a most provocative fashion! I thanked to clerk for his demo (I really had just come in to warm up) and made a beeline to the street. The future is now, be afraid, run away. Will Ferrell is creepy enough in low res.

By Professor Batty



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