Buying a Big Screen TV in Canada

Posted on October 24th, 2006 in Electronics,Vancouver by andrija

Here in Canada, Future Shop in Metrotown, Burnaby got the 46″ Sharp LCD TV, 46D62U yesterday. Not even a price sticker is up on it, but I tested a passing employee and he mentioned he believes it’s $3499 and it’s a great bargain – I was impressed he knew about it.

But it’d be hard not to – It’s truly a beautiful set. It’s the best looking LCD in store – better than XBR2 which I used to look for but never once it managed to impress me (never mind the $5000 MSRP). I spent 10 minutes yesterday looking at it – unfortunately there was no remote and I don’t think it has a menu button
so I was stuck with whatever settings there were. There was definitely some red push but I couldn’t see any banding, even with many uniform color screens on FS loop. However I did notice some thin horizontal lines and horizontal banding during some scene transitions – these looked like processing artifacts, compression artifacts or insufficient colour palette (so they probably fall under the technical definition of banding) – I don’t recall seeing this on any other set if FS and I’ve been looking at TVs several days a week for the past 2 years at least (used to ogle Pioneers, but in Canada they’re insanely overpriced, MSRP for 50″ is $5000, even 42″ is $3.5k which is midpoint price for 50″!!).

I looked hard and long but I could not see any horizontal “banding” as presented here – and I had no trouble seeing it in any of the pictures. Nor I could see any vertical “banding”, but not being able to change the viewing material, I would not In Canada most of the logic that guys in US use to determine what to buy does not apply. For example, there’s very little HD content so anyone claiming HD is more important than SD will get laughed out of the room. Same for HD-DVD or BlueRay – DVDs still rule very much (and I doubt US is any different). And some companies put a sticker price on their products that is way over what they charge in US. Examples are Pioneer, Sony and Panasonic, making the US comments such as “but Pioneer or Panasonic is cheaper than Sharp, pick up that plasma” laughable. Personally, I prefer giving my money to companies that actually care about Canadians, such as LG (similar prices but double warranty!). Samsung is weird, their plasmas have prices in line with US but their LCD are WAY overpriced here – I mean, come on, $3.5k for 4092? And ranges of to 2-3k for any of their 720p 40″ sets? You’d be stupid not to pick up great-looking LG42LC2D for 1k less and double the warranty. And Sony, $5k for 46″ XBR2 (2, not 3)? Eh?

Also, BB lets you negotiate? What? Here, they actually ADVERTISE “no commission, no pressure”! That’s right, fixed prices are a feature they use to advertise, as if it’s a good thing. They now own FS which used to allow some negotiation but not any more. And having driven many smaller places
out of business, there’s only Visions that I know of which would allow negotiating prices. So when a moderator on, say, the crazy AVS Forum sees a Canadian posting prices, he or she can safely gloss over the post because MSRP=STREET up here… thanks to US companies, ironically.

However, having followed a thread on the said forum since summer and seeing the red push – which means these are still sets from the first batch, if we’re to believe one of the earlier posts about Sharp doing better QA now – and seeing occasional horizontal artifacting, I am held back from running back to the store and picking one up.

Friday the 13th Finally Lives up to its Name

Posted on October 15th, 2006 in Vancouver by andrija

I had a bad day on Friday. Well, not really that bad, but several infuriating things did happen to me.

I woke up and went to work, only to realize right in front of the office building that I forgot my security card at home. It was in my laptop bag, which I rarely take to work – but I did it the day before. So I had to go back home and get the card, wasting an hour in the process. Luckily though on Friday mornings we have a “coffee and donuts chat” where – in the addition to food and drinks, various managers talk informally about what was going on in the last week and what will be going on in the next. Therefore I only missed the freebies – which I planned on missing anyway due to my want to get rid of a pound or two I acquired in the last week due to Thanksgiving Day visit to the bakery shop. I didn’t need to make up the time as it wouldn’t have been productive anyway. But I really hated going back home and then back to the office.

Then I decided to get a haircut after work. I got there at around 5:35, they close at six. But – there was a lineup! The biggest one I’ve seen at that place, 5 or 6 people were waiting for the two barbers. I just popped in, took a look and decided to leave immediately – there is almost nothing that I hate more than waiting.

Then I managed to miss the bus – it left right in front of me. Oh well, not a biggie, the next one showed up after less than 5 minutes. But then, after I arrived at the Main Street Skytrain station – the Skytrain was not operating! I saw the train suspiciously sitting at the station while I was still in the bus waiting for the
traffic light (by the way one of the longest waits in Vancouver is at Main and Terminal, naturally). When I got to the platform, I waited for a while and an announcement came – but it was useless, as I couldn’t hear it! Usually I can make out at least a few words (I have trouble understanding speech with high level of background noise) but this time I couldn’t make out anything. So I decided to go downstairs and get me an espresso – and a butter croissant, as I was rather hungry and I did not know when I’ll be able to get home.

Luckily, after I ate and drank, the trains got running again, so I got home on time.

Oh and Friday is the “flyer release day” in Future Shop and Best Buy. My friends know how much I hate the idea of flyers being release on Friday – instead of being able to go there after work on, say, Wednesday – and encounter very little competition for the juicy stuff that just got on sale, you have to face many more people which might already cleaned up isles by the time you can get there. In other words, people who love shopping there get screwed by causal shoppers, just because whichever moron runs the show decided to release flyers on Friday. It didn’t use to be the case! I loved it when they did it on Wednesday or Thursday, but alas those days are gone – at least for now. The worst part probably is that they keep bunching everything during the weekend, when one hardly needs any more competition for time. Why not during the weekday, to provide something to look forward to in the middle of the tedious workweek? But nooo, idiots just don’t care to use their brains when planning flyers. Oh well.

What was I saying again? Oh yes, flyers on this Friday sucked. There was nothing worth oogling, no good deals, nada.

Only on Saturday did I realize it was Friday the 13th. So it all made sense.

Of course, it’s not like I believe in stuff like that. I recall a long time ago I actually had a fabulous day on a Friday the 13th. And most of the time it’s just a day like any other. If anything, it tends to be better than average.