It’s true what they say: once you’ve tried 80 inches, you never want to go back.
I’m talking, of course, about televisions (get your mind out of the gutter). I recently spent a few days with Sharp’s new 80-inch Aquos TV and, having fallen in love, I’m sad to say I have screen envy now that I’m back to my measly 50-inch plasma.
The thing is big. I mean seriously big. I have a relatively small living room so it blocked out almost the entire wall where my TV is usually located. By my math, 80 inches is 6 feet 8 inches, or as tall as Tracy McGrady and LeBron James. Imagine either of them lying diagonally across a TV screen. That’s how big it is. I’m 6’2″ and I couldn’t reach my arms across it.
The resultant effect was that my living room felt more like a movie theatre. Nothing besides watching TV, movies or playing video games was to happen there. Nothing could, because the screen dominated everything. You couldn’t walk into the room without noticing it, nor have a conversation about anything else while in its presence. It became like the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey; this awesome thing that held some mysterious power.
The TV affected my behaviour in strange ways. I had to keep the blinds in my living room closed at all times, lest passersby spy the thing and peer in, thinking, “Holy crap, that’s the biggest screen I’ve ever seen! These people must be rich – let’s rob them!”
Indeed, the screen sells for $5,299. With 50-inch TVs available for as low as $1,000 these days, that’s a small fortune. In the grand scheme of things, however, it’s not that bad. Five years ago, I paid almost $4,000 for a 42-inch plasma TV. So, while it is a lot, it’s also a good example of how quickly prices have gone down – and likely will continue to.
The 80-incher boasts a full 1080p HD picture, with all of the internet connectivity that has become standard in sets (fuller specs are in the press release linked to above). I was able to connect my home Wi-Fi with no problems and was up and running on Netflix, with no intermediary box or game console, in minutes. Unlike most new TVs, though, there’s no 3D. That’s probably because adding 3D would only have increased the price tag even more. Or maybe 3D at that size would cause your head to explode. I’m not sure.
So what about that all-important picture? Well, with Blu-Ray and video games, it was stunning. I played a good deal of Call of Duty on it and was simply awestruck. Now that I’m back on 50 inches, I find myself moving closer and closer to the screen. Very bad for the eyes.
For kicks, I tried some analog TV on the big screen. Don’t ever do this. Televisions this size are not meant for anything less than full HD. Pixelated YouTube videos look good in comparison. Of course, if you can afford the set, you can probably also afford HD cable and would never have to try this.
Ultimately, an 80-inch set is the height of luxury. Not only is it an expensive TV in and of itself, it also requires a sizable living room, or one considerably bigger than mine, which means you’ll probably also need a big house. While you’re at it, you might as well hire some armed guards to protect it.