Santa, you’re here early

And I will be just as thrilled Christmas morning to find that my living room has gone from looking like this:

To looking like this!

Yes, that’s right — a brand new Xbox 360 faceplate, and it’s the Japanese “water puzzle” one! Also, that’s a 40″ Sony Bravia HDTV in place of our standard def 27″ JVC.

I’ve been begging Kat for the permission to upgrade the main set to HDTV, but she’s been resistant because SD stuff usually looks like crap, and she watches more TV than I do. TiVo compression already makes the programs suspect enough; to throw it into an HDTV would make it worse. But the arrival of a good deal on a TiVo HD unit in an email combined with Black Friday sales and a few lucrative holiday gigs for the band this coming month finally made it happen.

We paid a little more than I expected for a little less screen real estate than I expected, but the picture clarity was more important to both of us, and on that front, we have no complaints at all — the Bravia line’s reputation is well earned. I have never seen a DLP set that didn’t give me “rainbow effect” issues — even the 73″ Mitsubishi monster we just reviewed gave me trouble, which can only mean my eyes are messed up — so I was adamant about getting an LCD. I’m really happy with this one.

And it was one of those crazy Black Friday things where it was the last one in stock, so if we hadn’t taken away the box when we did, there were two other customers waiting to fight over it if we’d passed. Because of that, we actually did what you should never do — bought the first set we saw — so we kept the receipt, dropped the TV at home, and immediately went to a few other stores to see what they had. Nobody had a better price on a Bravia and all the sets that were comparable were sold out as part of the crazy sales. When we got it home, Kat said any larger than 40″ would have been “imposing” in the living room anyway.

My only complaint: Three feet of HDMI cable for $50? Really, Best Buy? Six feet for $50, Microsoft? Twelve feet for $50, Belkin? Eat shit, all of you. The markup on this technology — considering it’s a combination of two mature standards, DVI + coax surround — is nothing short of criminal. It’s in the TV and DVD manufacturers’ best interest to phase out the old tech (seriously, my HDTV has composite and component and S-video and VGA and HDMI) and make all AV devices HDMI compliant — so where’s the free cable with purchase of an HDMI device (which, I should note, Microsoft did with the 360 Elite)? That will drive the third-party vendors down. Overpricing is no way to establish a standard. If my cheapie cables turn out to be crap, it will have been worth the $3 to find out…and I will replace them with $12 ones.

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