I’m still nervous about getting a new tv for our basement. Our old one is small for the space yet when Best Buy asked me to work together on a reboot of our family entertainment space (it’s not a man cave at all), I only half-jumped at the chance. I mean I was excited, but I was nervous. Very nervous.
When Zacharie was a toddler, I was invited to review a 3D tv for the Heritage Classic that was to be played in Calgary. The game was going to be broadcast in 3D, I’d get access to the truck to watch how everything is produced at the alumni game the day before, and then have some friends over to watch the NHL game on the 55″ panel the next day.
I opened the box, and called the family down to see the new tv. Zacharie had a stack of LEGO bricks in his hand, announced he didn’t like the tv, and threw the bricks at the screen, cracking it near the bottom.
A red light flickered, and a low hum whimpered out of the box, the kind R2D2 makes when he’s sad. The screen went black. It was toast. What happened after that is a parenting lesson best read here, but it made me nervous about bringing nice, new, high tech gear into the home.
But it’s time. So I’m making the leap, switching things up, and taking a big gulp that our new tv doesn’t fall victim to an angry child with a LEGO wand of doom.
It’s Not A Man Cave
We have one tv with a PVR in our house. My wife PVRs her favourite soap, The Young at the Restless, every day. At night, when the kids are in bed, and I want to watch hockey, she wants to watch her soap. So she gets the big tv in the basement, and I go upstairs to watch the game on a small panel in the living room.
Same thing happens on our tv watching weekends. The kids want to dig into their recorded shows, I’d like to watch golf, and I always lose the fight for the remote.
So our bigger tv in the basement, is not the centerpiece of a man cave where I get to hibernate with HD sports filled glory. No, it’s where we all cosy up to watch a PVR of the Amazing Race and Survivor as a family, or where my wife and kids go to watch their shows and kick me out.
So my plan to reboot our home theatre space with Best Buy involved dropping a new 50″ 4K tv into the basement – for my family to watch cartoons and soaps on – and redoing the living room with the older 40″ HD tv so I would stop squinting at the small screen to watch my sports.
I came armed with measurements, and photographs, and sat down for 2 hours with Sara at my local Best Buy to hash out the options. You can do all the research you want online, gang, but nothing beats talking to someone who knows what they’re talking about to steer you in the right direction. Best Buy staff are not commission, they’re smart, they can help. Trust them.
Which TV To Get
My man cave family entertainment room is not very big. The tv sits just 6 feet from the couch, so while I have room for a 55″ tv (or bigger), I wanted to keep it down to closer to 50″. I mean, how much extreme closeup and zoom of Victor Newman does my wife really need?
After discussing curved screens (nope, our place is too small so the viewing angles would be weird and I’m not convinced these panels go the way of 3D),
the size of screen I’d need (55″ would fit in our space but would be too big),
the refresh rate (stay away from those 60hz guys),
the brands I’d choose (Vizio is cheap because they buy factory seconds from LG and have a very high ‘lemon’ count),
whether to go 4K or stay with HD (once you see 4k and HD side by side, it’s hard not to go 4k),
the kind of apps I’d like on my tv (I’m not convinced about Smart TVs, but everyone has one, and get off my lawn),
I decided to future proof myself by getting the Samsung 50″ 4k Ultra UD LED Smart TV.
It’s big enough, but not huge. As 4k content becomes the new normal, I’ll be ready when the content is available.
The real seller of the whole thing, though, is with this basement man cave family entertainment room upgrade, I’ll be able to take my old 40″ HD tv and move it into the living room above the fireplace. I’m hoping this move will a) make my tv experience more enjoyable or b) convince the family to give up the basement to dad more often and watch their shows upstairs.
Best Buy works with The Geek Squad to get things working right for you. So I ordered up the tv and made plans to have The Geek Squad come in and do the set-up. Next weekend they’ll bring the new box and put it in my basement entertainment unit, then they’ll take the old box upstairs and install it on a wall mount. They’ll bring wire covers and get it all done right.
Could I do it? Probably, but this is another case of outsourcing my Man Card, people. The Geek Squad will do in 2 hours what would probably take me 10. They’ll do it right, they’ll explain to me how it all works, and they’ll do it right. I’m not even blinking at having them do it.
I did, however, pause when Sara offered me the Protection Service Plan.
I know there was a time when everyone would say these add-ons were nothing you ever needed. We’re in a disposable society where we often just toss something that is broken instead of fixing it. But this is a $1500 tv we’re talking about, not a hair dryer or a toaster.
I asked Sara about the plan. I wanted it straight. Is it a waste of money or is it legit? Every day, she told me, someone comes in with a broken panel. A pixel burns out, a connection isn’t working, something. Every day she has to deal with someone who didn’t buy the plan and has a problem. She can’t do anything for them and they leave frustrated.
7 / 10 people are now getting the protection plans, she said. And they work. So I got it. They even have a plan where, yes, if my kids would have tossed a LEGO brick at the screen and broken it, I could get it replaced. I skipped that option. I’m crossing my fingers that Zacharie is over hating new television sets.
Disclosure: I received a gift card from Best Buy in exchange for publishing this piece. Words and opinions are always my own.