I recall fairly well when our family purchased our first television. The year was 1954, I believe, and the arrival of the shiny black and white monitor was a special event. The grainy reception from the choice of two channels was a major unveiling around our household. Actually, what I remember best was not the television but the huge box it came in. My cousin and I had much more fun making a "fort" out of the box than watching the television itself.
In Las Vegas yesterday, Sharp Electronics unveiled its new Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) television - a 108-inch model that would most likely not fit in your home. This 9 foot-wide model will be available this summer for a hefty price tag, though the details are still up in the air.
The new era in television monitors comes as Americans are grabbing flat-
panel screens in record numbers. An estimated 25 million flat screens will be sold this year alone. Half of American households currently have a high definition television now and that number will increase as more channels switch to the new technology.
Panavision last year introduced a small little 103-inch model for a cool $70,000 but other large-screen models have plummeted in price. One 71-
inch model lowered the price by 80 percent to attract customers. Apparently something is working.
Plasma, HDTV, LCDs, rear-projection models - the world of television is clearly changing. Sadly, most television programming remains stale but at least we can now watch it on larger, more sophisticated screens. But the more I think about it, Larry King is already scary enough on my 32-inch screen and I would not want to watch him on 108 inches.
At the same International Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the big boys are poised to unveil pocket-sized computers and all sorts of gadgets that will be either larger or smaller, faster or slower than any that came before them. In short, our fascination with technology shows no signs of slowing.
It really makes you wonder when you ponder the 108-inch screen. The overwhelming majority of houses in this country are ill-equipped to handle such a monster. Assuming you have a wall big enough to hold this screen, I would think you'd have to sit in another room to view this massive television. As you know, there are miniature televisions available with tiny screens. And they're cheap. Problem is, they are also useless for the most part. Technology and common sense sometimes clash.
I won't be standing in line for the 108-inch model. When the price drops another $50,000 or so, I might express some interest. But until then, I'll live with Larry King as he is.
The sad reality is that in the world of technology - like it or not - size really does matter.