Ed Byrne: My technology

Comedian Ed Byrne tells what he sees in his Pioneer PDP 502nxe, 50-inch plasma screen
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The Independent Online

It was the best television you could buy in Harrods when I was there for the sale back in January. The movie Lost in Space was playing and I thought, you bastards, you got me.

It was the best television you could buy in Harrods when I was there for the sale back in January. The movie Lost in Space was playing and I thought, you bastards, you got me.

I had heard and read about plasma screens in the magazines T3 and Stuff. I pointed it out to my girlfriend in Harrods to get her reaction and said I'd already bought it. She said it was cool. I think there was respect for the fact that I was running the idea by her.

It is a screen without speakers or a tuner, and I change the channels with a digital television receiver that plugs in. The Nakamichi Sound Space 10 DVD player has a surround-sound system, two subwoofers and five satellites. The plasma screen and the Nakamichi hang on the wall and it looks quite Space Age.

The problem is I've left wires hanging out from the back of the screen, which doesn't look too cool. It's fairly handy and not too complicated to set up. Anyway, big men came round and installed it for me and showed me what to do. You can plug any peripheral into it and use it as a computer screen or for PlayStation and Dreamcast.

Because it's flat and hangs off the wall, it has a big advantage to a regular television that takes up a huge corner of a room. It is quite heavy, and you'd have a problem getting it off from where it's stuck to the wall with a special holder. In the advert for the Philips flatscreen TV a couple put it above their bed, which I don't think is a good idea because it would be far too heavy and could fall on your head in the night.

The flatscreen is similar to having film rear-projected on to the wall, but that picture is not as good. It has sharp, bright colours and excellent definition and that's made me really appreciate the quality of the digital signal. I can use both videotape and DVD with the screen, but the digital is so sharp, whereas you can really see the flaws on the old video. Videotape bad, DVD good. I am a total convert.

Some people complain that it can be a bit noisy because it hums a little, but if I'm concentrating on watching something I don't notice. It makes TV a bit of an event because it's too large and impressive to be left on in the background. If it's on, you can't avoid watching TV and it often gets a wow reaction when other people first see one. It is like having a home cinema and I hate going to the cinema these days because people talk so much. I watch a movie and eat the food I like in a comfortable chair and get a close experience of cinema film quality.

They are still ridiculously expensive, and it has caused me to spend money on another gadget in the form of a burglar alarm. When I tell people how much it costs, they say you can get a nice car for that money. But I don't have a driver's licence, so what good would that do me? It was a pretty impulsive buy, and apart from my house it's the most expensive thing that I own.

The price is coming down slowly, but I don't see plasma screens getting cheaper. They will get lighter and thinner and higher definition. At the moment, I'm content with my screen, and the improvements aren't happening so fast that in five years' time it won't still look snazzy and cutting edge.

I am a gadget freak, but this piece of technology has enhanced my life the most. I have a laptop and desktop and digital camera, camcorder and a mini-disk player. I've had trouble with Psion palmtops, two have packed up, and I've accidentally put various digital voice recorders through the wash. The only new thing that I haven't embraced is MP3.

Ed Byrne is touring nationwide

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