Mary Dejevsky: Life was so much simpler when a TV was just a box

Share

You know you have reached a certain age when you start reminiscing plaintively about the simpler joys of a seemingly distant past: warm summers, village greens, strawberries that tasted like strawberries – that sort of thing. To that list, let me now add: buying a television set.

You know you have reached a certain age when you start reminiscing plaintively about the simpler joys of a seemingly distant past: warm summers, village greens, strawberries that tasted like strawberries – that sort of thing. To that list, let me now add: buying a television set.

Time was when acquiring a television was a simple and reasonably pleasurable exercise. You dropped in to your local department store or electrical shop and came out 20 minutes later with a large box and a satisfied smile on your face.

The choice was simple. The price range went from around £100 at the bottom end of the scale to about £400 at the top, and size and brand were what clinched it. You compared the picture quality and made up your mind. Then you went home, plugged the set into the wall, attached the wire aerial to the back, and you were all set up to watch Coronation Street, the football or whatever your particular choice of narcotic from the four channels then available.

Have you tried to buy a television set recently? The only constant is that the person who may or may not be interested in selling you what is now a cross between a computer, a miniature cinema and a piece of furniture is still a man. For the rest, well ...

Your problems begin well before you lug the box home and have to decipher the pre-setting instructions just to receive a picture.

They start right there in the show-room. Televisions used to be grey, and shaped like televisions.

There are still a few of those to be found. But small ones now come in pastel colours as well as grey; big ones come in black and various metallic finishes; medium-sized ones may be television-shaped or box-like (if they come with built-in video-recorders), or elongated if they are "wide-screen" sets.

"Wide-screen" looks sleek and modern, but it also means that the picture is either distorted to make it fit or stops short of the edge.

Price seems to the non-initiate to be a lottery. Small televisions may cost more than big ones, but very big ones cost "only" (as the adverts say) upwards of £800. You can now pay several thousand pounds for a mega-TV, but you can pay just the same for a much smaller "designer" model, which – admit it – is the only one you would really like to see in your sitting-room if only you could shake off the notion that televisions ought to cost no more than £200.

But the biggest divide, as I learned from successive patient salesmen, is the big D (digital). This seems to add a cool £400 to any television so enabled. If you ask whether digital is essential, you are told "yes", and then "no". One fine day everything will be digital and your TV may not work; but then you just get a box (and if you wait long enough, the Government may give it to you for free), which will digitalise your outmoded set anyway.

Several hours and shops later, when you have finally identified the smaller, sleeker, wider model with the finish that matches your décor and the price that can just be absorbed into your budget, you are hit with the final conundrum. Nowadays, it seems, more televisions than not come with integral stands. If you want the TV, but don't like the stand, you are thwarted, unless the stand will detach. If you try to find a more acceptable stand, you are told that no one really stocks stands or trolleys these days, because, "Madam, most televisions are fitted with stands". And for anyone who wants a stand on wheels, a new rule has been born: the likelihood of a stand being on castors is in inverse proportion to the size and weight of the set it supports.

As I say, television-buying is not what it used to be in those days of perpetual summer and afternoon tea. Two months ago, I was in the market for a new TV – and I still am.

m.dejevsky@independent.co.uk

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Client Services Assistant

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Client Services Assistant is ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior / Senior Sales Broker - OTE £100,000

£20000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportuni...

Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Duty Manager is required to join one of the ...

Recruitment Genius: Team Leader

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Team Leader is required to join one of the l...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A relative of dead Bangladeshi blogger Washiqur Rahman reacts after seeing his body at Dhaka Medical College in Dhaka on March 30,  

Atheists are being hacked to death in Bangladesh, and soon there will be none left

Rory Fenton
9.4 million people watched the first of the three-way debates at the last election. The audience for the one on Thursday is likely to be far lower.  

David Cameron needs to learn some new tricks – and fast

Steve Richards
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor