Grandma goes hi def

46″ LCD HDTV in front of a 36″ TV cubby. Not the ideal set-up, but there were few options. Mount is anchored on inside right side wall of cubby. TV will pull forward and tilt or swivel.


Tada! I have finally entered the world of HDTV!

Well, almost. I’m still waiting for the Comcast HD cable box to arrive, supposedly via UPS. It’s been a week since I ordered it. That’s Comcast for you.

The TV itself arrived last Thursday, just two days after I ordered it from Vann’s via Amazon. One (only one!) average-sized FedEx Dude hoisted it onto his shoulder and carried the box in by himself while I held my breath and the door. Only a slight bump as he set it down, but I could imagine my beautiful new TV in a million pieces inside that box.

I politely refused to sign for it until I’d popped open the outer carton, which Vann’s had added over the Samsung box, with lots of those big plastic air bladder/bubble things stuffed between the two. I popped open the inner carton and felt gently for crunching glass or plastic. There was no way I could get the whole thing unpacked or even uncovered by myself while FedEx Dude stood impatiently tapping his signature box (what do they call those things, anyway?). Since there were no obvious crunchies and both cartons appeared intact, I gritted my teeth and signed for the delivery.

Two days later, I received the two HDMI cables I’d ordered as an afterthought. But that didn’t change the fact that from noon Thursday till noon Monday, I sat looking at that huge box in my living room, praying that everything inside was in proper working order. It and I barely survived the dog’s chasing the cat through the tunnel between the carton and the wall. And I could already hear the excuses, in turn, from FedEx, Vann’s, Amazon, and Samsung if, four days after its delivery, I suddenly started screaming for my money back because the TV was damaged.

Yesterday, finally, the anxious wait was over. The hang-it-on-the-wall guys arrived. Actually, in my case, it was more like hang-it-in-front-of-the-hole guys. Home builders around here, about ten years ago, thought it was really cool to put these big “TV cubbies” next to the living room fireplace. Picture, instead of nice built-in bookshelves, an empty space approximately 3′ wide, 4′ high, and 2′ deep. Precisely the size you’d need for a 32″ tube-type TV like I had, with space above or below for accessories.

You see immediately the limitations of that arrangement. (The builders didn’t.) That’s a huge, awkward gaping hole if you happen not to put a TV in it. And it’s too narrow to accommodate a flatscreen of more than 37″. In fact, I found only one 37″ model that would have fit in that space if I’d wanted one that small, which I didn’t.

Son suggested two options: set a TV stand on the floor in front of the hole, or mount a TV over the front of the hole. At first blush, neither idea sounded practical or aesthetically acceptable. The stand would have been 15″ to 20″ deep, sticking into the middle of the room and into the natural traffic pattern through the room. A TV somehow stuck over the hole sounded ugly and probably impossible.

However, after several months of thought (since Christmas), urged on by a suddenly dying 32″ Sony Wega, and having discovered all kinds of cantilevered, swiveling wall mounts for HDTVs and some guys who knew how to install them, I pulled the trigger on the purchase of a 46″ Samsung B8500 HDTV. (Yes, that one!)

Said TV is mounted across the front of the cubby on a mount that is bolted to the inner side wall of the cubby. It sits flat against the wall on either side of the opening and can be pulled forward for access to its back panel or to angle it toward the far corner of the room. Below and behind the TV is ample space for speakers or other accessories. Currently the cable box and Xbox reside on a shelf above.

I’d heard the sound on HDTVs leaves a lot to be desired. This one doesn’t sound too bad. A bit tinny, and certainly not as rich as its predecessor, with big forward-firing speakers sitting on the floor. The Samsung isn’t helped with downward-facing speakers and a large hollow space behind it. But there’s plenty of space down there for some new speakers …

I’m sure the whole set-up sounds as bizarre to you as it did to me when my son first suggested it. But I would call it a big success and virtually the only way to put an HDTV in my living room. No, I never for a second considered putting it over the fireplace. Who the hell can enjoy a TV that high up?

So … I still don’t have the HD cable box for all my usual TV watching (that’s SD in the pic). Will need son to run that HDMI for me when the box gets here. But even without it — wow! I watched a movie last night that son had brought over on a thumb drive, Lost in Translation. The opening scenes of Tokyo at night were just stunning!

Everything from the Xbox now pops. From 32″ SD to 46″ HD is a huge change, after all. Now I can read everything on the screen, even the little FBI disclaimers and copyright notices on the splash screens. I can easily read all the screen data in my “Fallout 3” game, which will make it a whole new and much better experience. I can see! I can see!

My technophilic son, his equally technophilic wife, and the two grandkids arrived with burgers and fries last night (surprise!) for a few hours of gaming on the new TV. Four thumbs up.

Now all I need is 6 months to figure out all the different remotes and the 10,000 functions of each.


By the way, I posted the pic to show others how this mounting solution looks. I searched in vain for such a picture while trying to decide whether to do this, and it certainly would have been helpful.

2 thoughts on “Grandma goes hi def

  1. We’ve just bought a house in Scottsdale, AZ and one wall features these strange “cubbies” and I must say I hate the way they look. For one thing it means you have to buy loads of crap to fill each hole, and they are dust traps and they look horrid as well. Ok that was 3 things. Plus I don’t like them.

    Unless a house is ultra modern I think these flat screened tv’s always look a bit ugly.
    The best idea I’ve come up with for the cubby was adding shelves and doors for storage. But if I’m going to pay someone to do that, I’m going to rip out all the space-wasting, inefficient “shelves” (like the one above the TV in the pic), and have normal bookshelves and/or cabinets built in. It would double the current capacity. As for the TV, I agree, it doesn’t do a thing for most decors, including mine. If money were no object, I’d have it drop down from the ceiling or something — completely out of sight when not in use.

  2. NICE! I kinda like the cubby and fireplace (?). If you did put some speakers in that cubby, the sound would maybe have a nice volume from which to project itself out into the room. Not that I know diddly about acoustics … We’re pretty happy with the 40″ Samsung LN40B500P3F that we got at Walmart for $600. It doesn’t have all the connectors your model does, but I can hook up the laptop to it and watch stuff on Hulu. Now that’s some convergence!
    My menu options include a long list of “connectibles” that I can’t identify from their cryptic acronyms. I’m sure there’s a laptop connection among them; it just isn’t labeled LAPTOP. But I guess I’ll learn.

    Yes, that’s a fireplace to the right. Actually a gas fireplace insert.

... and that's my two cents