A Year Without A TV

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, March 04, 2013 at 09:46 PM with 6 comments

It’s almost hard to believe that it has been over a year since the TV in our home met its demise. What is probably more surprising is that we never replaced it over that last year, and in all reality my wife and I can’t say we have really missed it.

On January 10, 2012, our TV would not turn on. After checking power and all other connections we concluded the TV had shown its last programming. Why do I remember that date? No, I did not write it down, rather I thought it was ironic that it happened on the day of the New Hampshire presidential primary as I bought the TV at the Lechmere store in Salem, New Hampshire back in the early 90’s. Yes, this was an old TV, a 27” Sony Trinitron with a picture tube. It most certainly was not high-definition, but as of late, but Elmo seemed to look ok on it to our kids.

I’m Not Anti-TV

Before I continue let me make it clear – I am not anti-TV. I did not intend or go out of my way to rid our home of a TV. I have always had a TV of my own since I went off to college many moons ago and have been watching cable TV since it was first wired into my childhood home’s black and white TV back in the early 80’s. Where I will admit that sometimes I let the TV control my schedule and probably watched more than I should, most of my TV diet was of the news and some dramas, and of course Elmo.

When the TV never came back on, we had a decision to make. At the time it was a major expense we weren’t expecting to take on. We also noticed that the kids weren’t really expressing interest in watching anything with it not working. It was the latter more than the former which led to the decision to not replace it.

Have I Missed It?

When you take any element out of an environment which commonly has a great focus to it there is a form of a void. When the massive tubed TV departed to the recycling center, that was the case in our living room. Though we did fill the space with a much smaller replacement –more on that below – it was still a different dynamic, especially as there was not as much noise and sound coming from the spot in the room.

Stimulus aside, not having the TV available to watch “something” was a slight adjustment, but not a major behavioral change, at least for me. Though much of what we watched was news and home and cooking shows, it was nice to have these available when we wanted some (as my wife always says) mental chewing gum. But where we were always aware of our kids watching too much TV, we didn’t always apply the same standard to ourselves. Not that it was always a bad thing though!

In some regards, I do miss having a TV readily available. But on the other hand, I have somehow managed to live without it as well.

Alternate Media Delivery

Though we did not replace our TV, our home is not completely devoid of video entertainment. I connected an LED computer monitor to the WD Live TV box we already had (like a Roku, a media streaming device) and our home theatre so we could still watch movies, videos and some streaming programming. Though not completely ideal, it passed the main test as Elmo looked good on it. Later in the year we got an iPad so we were able to introduce Netflix and Amazon video to the mix, along with apps from TV and cable stations so we could keep up with video news if we needed to.

By the time the TV went kaput, I was already getting my main meal of news and information from sources other than on TV. Using my RSS feed reader, I was subscribed to a multitude of RSS feeds from news outlets, media channels, bloggers and other sources to keep me more than informed. Podcasts and Sirius XM satellite radio have rounded out the text with audio nicely. I was able to scan the headlines much easier and dig deeper as I needed to, all without being beholden to a TV news schedule (I did not have a DVR, nor do I ever want one!).

Where nothing can truly replace anything, this overall experience has come close to what we had before. Couple it with watching TV sporting events at local pubs and watching one of the TVs in the conference at the OfficePort Chicago co-working office space have filled in the gaps nicely, especially as those gaps have mostly been with sporting events.

Watching Ahead

Is there a TV in our future? Possibly. As the LED monitor isn’t completely ideal (did I mention it’s only a 19”?) or compatible with our other equipment (the LED monitor won’t play Netflix videos because it is not HDTV compatible) we are contemplating buying a TV for better viewing, but wouldn’t go any wider than a 32”. Even with this, we would not get cable TV again. An HDTV would allow us to watch local channels if we really want to, and our limited video viewing (a.k.a. Elmo) will continue as is.

If we really need a local TV fix, we can always walk a few blocks to the CBS 2 street-front studio and see Rob and Kate live.

photo of CBS 2 Chicago news desk with Rob Johnson and Kate Sullivan

I’m interested to hear if any of my readers have also cut the cord to their TV and their experience with it. Or if you think I am nuts for not having one, feel free to say that too in the comments to the post.

This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.

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