Brief Update

Just checking in briefly here. To answer everybody’s first question, no, I don’t know what’s up with Steve. Haven’t heard from him in about three weeks, and I’m guessing he’s busy. I know I am. As for myself, I’m going to be incommunicado between Christmas Eve and New Year’s, so unless Martini Boy pops up, y’all probably shouldn’t count on finding anything new here next week.

In the meantime, here are a couple of things that caught my eye this morning. On the college football obsession front, I am reacting to the Associated Press sending a cease-and-desist order to the BCS with unmitigated glee. Now the AP needs to take the next logical step and cancel its football poll altogether until and unless a playoff is instituted in Division 1-A.

Everybody with a blog is going to link to Lileks’ demolition of snob-blogger James Wolcott. Never let it be said that we here in the Vodkasphere are afraid to join the crowd when it’s called for–and in this case, it’s called for.

I’m going to be in the market for a large, flat-screen HDTV in 2005. I’ve been leaning plasma, since they’re just entirely freakin’ cool, but now I read that Sony is abandoning plasma technology in favor of large-scale LCDs. My question is, how large, and how much? LCDs have been small and pricey compared to the other formats thus far. If Sony can make them large and cheap (well, okay, just not astronomical), that’ll have a major impact on my decision, and I imagine a lot of others, too. On the other hand, the Motley Fools think Sony is just getting out of a business that’s on its way to being commoditized and less profitable. Hmm.

Okay, so this guy is probably a nerd’s nerd. It’s still a heck of a lot cooler than a homemade Tron costume.

In case you missed it, Christopher Caldwell has an interesting piece on the Islamification of the Netherlands and recent repercussions. Well worth the read.

UPDATE: A reader points to this article, in which Sony denies they’re getting out of the plasma business. My suggestion to Sony: send me a freebie for evaluation, and I’ll advise you on whether or not to build any more…


27 Responses to “Brief Update”

  1. Laurence Simon Says:

    If every blogger is going to link Lileks, then I won’t.

    I have to be different for different’s sake, you know.

  2. Dragon Fly Says:

    That Tron guy. He’s just wrong. Go Gators.

  3. E. Nough Says:

    The reports of Sony quitting the plasma TV business are greatly exaggerated.

  4. Jeff Harrell Says:

    About three years ago, I invested in a 34″ CRT-based HDTV. I paid a lot of money for it, but I’m confident that I’ll still have it in another 10 years if I don’t do anything massively stupid.

    Personally, I’m holding off on any thoughts of new TV technology for a while. LCDs make great computer monitors, but they seem to make fairly crappy televisions at this point. I haven’t been wild about the plasma screens I’ve seen. I get a sneaky feeling that some new type of technology is lingering just around the corner that will make that 52″ plasma screen they’re selling this year look like a 13″ black-and-white Magnavox with rabbit ears.

    But who the hell knows. I don’t have enough money to splurge on Taco Bell. These discussions are purely academic at this point.

  5. Will Collier Says:

    My ten-year-old Toshiba 35″ CRT has gone about as far as it can go (there’s some kind of weird problem with the RCA video input tuner; S-Video still works fine, though). If I’m going to replace it, I might as well go for something better (and please, God, lighter).

    Besides which, I’ll lose my Early Adopter Geek (TM) accreditation if I still own a 1995-vintage television by the end of next year…

  6. John Branch Says:

    Have you thought about going DLP instead of plasma or LCD?

  7. Will Collier Says:

    John, I looked at it, but I’m not a big projection fan.

  8. Rez Says:

    The CEO of Comcast on CNBC last month said that in less than two years, there will be 60″ LCDs for under $1,000. My understanding is this is desireable because it allows TVs to be computers and visa versa.

  9. ninme Says:

    Lileks is On Fire

    It’s a column that will live in infamy. That is an Ocicat. I think they put Siameses to shame. The snootiness combined with the Zsa Zsa Gabor Leapord Print Coat. Watch out, or she’s slap you, in a haughty fashion….

  10. Greg T. Says:


    I bought a 50″ Samsung DLP back in April. The picture quality is superb – don’t equate traditional projection with DLP. Go check out it in the showroom and I think you’ll see that DLP stacks up well against both plasma and LCD; in fact, it’s better in some ways (no image burn (plasma) and wider viewing angle (LCD). Cost is much nicer as well and my unit only weighs about 75 lbs. It ain’t plasma/LCD sexy but it fits my space and didn’t break the bank like a 50″ plasma would have…

  11. Chad K Says:

    The one thing the guys at the store never tell you:

    Even modern day Plasma TVs fade… this requires a recharge costing almost between 500-1000 US. If you’re not too cranky about fade, you can get this done every 2 years… if you’re one of those people who wants perfection… every 12 months.

    DLP or LCD Projection is the way to go. They have better resolution, which is great for those using DVI and something MediaCenter-like.

    LCD technology has advanced quite a bit and currently outdoes DLP (only marginally), but only if you get the top end models.

    My Suggestion:
    If you need something big and want something that kicks some tush for less than say $5000… the current champ is the Hitachi UltraVision ..VX915 or VS810. They come in 50, 60 and 70.

    I think most people would blow the extra bucks for the few features that the differing remote has… but not me.

    Oh, this also has CableCARD ability. As of now, that’s pretty rare. And locally my TimeWarner office offers CableCARD for $2/mo. It allows you to connect your digital cable directly into the television without need for a box.

    just my $1.05

  12. Fred Says:

    If I remember correctly, Sony has a research deal with Motorola for new LCD screen technology. They have prototyped and are about to go into production on large LCD panels that are very cheap to make. The article I read speculated that in the next 2 years, Sony would be pushing a 50+ inch screen for around the current cost of their 32-36 inch WEGA Trinitron’s (which should be in the 800-1100 range).

    I am saving my pennies for these new screens to come out.

  13. Matthew King Says:


    I bought a 50″ Panasonic rear projection LCD hdtv AND IT IS SUPERB. I liked the sony but you have the same “sweet spot of the screen” issues being off on the wings or too high or low that you get in other rear projection screens. Also the frigging things take up half of the den.

    Yes the prices will go down but in waiting 2-3 years you will be watching a lot of great entertainment at a sub-optimal level.

    Live a little.

    Happy Holidays.

    Matthew King

  14. Ed Says:

    Don’t Try This At Home, Kids

    No, I mean that seriously. Just don’t do it. Trust me on this. (Via VodkaPundit)…

  15. Hunter Says:


    Unless you _must_ hang it on the wall, go with rear projection LCD or DLP. Those are the current best of breed. Sure, there’s cheap LCD and LCoS around the corner, but you can play that game forever, just like with computers.


    PS War Damn Eagle, BME ’88

  16. greg Says:

    I understand that if you watch channels like CNN very much, the crawl at the bottom burns into your screen with plasma. Just sayin’…

  17. George Says:

    There’s only one way to institute a playoff in college football: eliminate regular-season out-of-conference games. A 16-game season is just not appropriate to college football. But if teams played just their 8 or 9 game conference schedule in the regular season, they could then play a meaningful 3 or 4 game non-conference playoff. I’d envision some kind of seeded interconference structure: the Pac-10 champ plays the WAC champ (and #2 plays #2), with the winners then going on to play the respective winners of similar matchups between, say, the SEC and the MAC.

    Short of that, the old bowl system wasn’t so bad, and certainly better than the BCS. It caused lots of irreconcilable arguments about ‘who’s better’, but the BCS doesn’t solve that. And the bowl system had the advantage of perfect transparency: if you come in Xth place in your conference, you go to Y bowl. Arguments come later, and have no dollar value.

  18. Dr. Matt Dowell Says:

    James Lileks is a fake and a poseur. He writes an article in the Star Tribune about saying “Merry Christmas” (his best article to date and the only non-sugar laden writing he has done in that paper) and his article is countered in an ABSTRACT way by James Wolcott. His counter was good. Lileks, in his typical fashion, cannot STAND that someone had the audacity to disagree with him, proceeds to fisk (jesus christ I hate that overused term) the Wolcott article. I guess Lileks in not able to debate like an adult. He ran out of weak arguments so he decided to pick the response apart on technicalities. I have some news for you James, your original article would not stand up to such criticism.

  19. Nylarthotep Says:

    Probably a good thing that sony is going to LCD. Plasma uses far to much electricity compared to other systems and there doesn’t appear to be any alternative. I don’t want to pay the extra $$$. (yes I’m Cheap.)

    They probably can sink the funds into the Blue-Ray DVD systems that they have coming out. Hopefully they’ll beat the HD-DVD. I don’t want to wait for a long time for that technology war to get over. Prices will be too high for too long in any case.

  20. Nylarthotep Says:

    Dr. Dowell? You’re defending Wolcott for being a troll?

    Wolcott didn’t just disagree with him, his whole attitude in the article was aimed at being offensive. It wasn’t abstract either. You don’t quote and link to the article you’re berating and still maintain an abstract style.

    Why would Lileck debate someone that can’t even manage civility? Lileck replies in kind and, though long winded, he’s amusing.

    Relax. Forget about the whole thing. That topic is definitely nothing to have a fit over.

  21. Downtown Lad Says:

    LCD’s are small???? Since when. I own a 70 inch Sony Wega LCD Rear Projection and it is the best picture I have yet seen.

    Granted it’s not cheap, but in terms of the size of the TV that you get for your oney, it’s much better than plasma.

    I think this is a good move on Sony’s part.

  22. Dagpotter Says:

    On the BCS thing, a writer for the Huntstville Times votes. He got a huge amount of flak for not voting Auburn number 1. He then writes a snarky article at the request of the paper’s editor explaining that it is his vote and he doesn’t care. Somehow this leads to enough angry folk that the editor writes a front-page apology for his conduct and forces him to apologize. If the Coach’s poll was public it would add some integrity to the process. Oh, by-the-way I thought she was going to apologize for the article calling Bush voters slave holders. Oh, well, you can see the priorities in my fine home state.

  23. austin mls Says:

    Anything that messes with the BCS is awesome in my book.

    (Can you tell my loyalties?)

  24. RR Ryan Says:

    We looked for a couple of years at projection, lcd, and plasma before getting a Sony 34″ widescreen Wega XBR CRT.It had the best picture available at any price, and believe me we looked at all of them. Since most stuff is broadcast in widescreen HD, burn-in isn’t an issue. It has the digital tuner built in, cable-card, memory stick, optical out(digital channels broadcast in 5.1) and a raft of other things I’ll probably never use. The one downside is that it takes two guys to lift it and you’ll probably need a new stand to support it. It’s definitely worth it, though. Oh, and movies in progressive scan are amazing. Good luck.

  25. Kathianne Says:

    I don’t know the dif between plasma tv and the others, I watch the news and c-span, bore that I am. A B&W portable would be fine with me, though I have a bit better than that.

    I do know I am aware of Steve’s absence, I pray that it is good news that accounts for the absence.

    Steve, you are missed in a way us lesser bloggers will not be, please come back!

  26. Neo Says:

    I started to look at large flat thin panel TV a few months ago and came across a list of user comments. Most of them agreed that after you physically setup your new screen that you should definitely get someone to come in for the color alignment. Say what ? I wondered if I should just go an buy a Triumph TR7 sportscar, notorious for needing endless servicing. Are these plasma screens really that touchy ? It sort of reminded me of the old time audiophiles that would perfectly balance their tone arm with the proper pressure on the cartridge needle.

  27. J_Crater Says:

    Speaking about pulling out of the large screen business, after pulling out of the gate at warp speed with words of cheap plasma just two years ago, Intel (the makers of the Pentium) have pulled the plug on their venture (can’t find a link). Appears making the chips was the easy part. They had intended to do the whole job and couldn’t get their act together on making the actual screens.
    They had planned to use a LTPS (low temperature plasma) display system which they were touting just last spring as using “three watts of power, a significant advancement in terms of reducing power”, but alas it’s all history now.

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