Does The Picture Look Dark To You?

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It’s 6 pm. Time for the evening news. Mom takes her spot on the couch and sinks deeply into its down abyss. She picks up her “clicker,” turns on the TV, selects her favorite news channel, and begins her visual clearance test.

These days, Mom has a variety of (very real) eye issues going on. Like a dog circling round and round to find just the right spot, Mom runs through a series of eye routines to determine what part, of which eye, will work best tonight. She begins by alternately closing each eye, and multi-blinks in an attempt to clear her vision. She turns her head side to side while maintaining her gaze at the screen. She looks up... and then down.

At the end of the visual clearance test, Mom states, “I can’t see the picture on the TV. It’s too dark. Does it look dark to you?”   

No affirmation from me... I can’t confirm Mom’s experience. Set on “standard,” the brightness of the picture is just fine. What I do see, however, is a blurry news anchor speaking, on an unidentifiable channel (because half the picture is off the screen), in a “mono” voice, coming from a TV that’s set fifteen feet away from her.

This should be an easy fix with a simple trip to Best Buy. But Mom’s from the “Depression Era” where “if it ain’t broke, you don’t fix it.” In her eyes, she has a TV, so why would she get another? Besides, she’s kept up with television technology over the years, going from the pre-TV days... to a black and white box with three channels... to a Sony Color Trinitron with rabbit ears... and finally, to her current remote operated, color TV, with cable. And that’s what she’s trying to bring into focus today... a 15 inch TV with basic cable, no speakers, and positioned a million miles away. Definitely not optimal viewing conditions for a 91 year old woman who is partially blind and clinically deaf (“as a haddock”).

Before Mom settles on an acceptable viewing strategy, she decides her evening fare from the TV schedule she cuts out daily from the Globe. Somehow, she’s able to read this micro-printed piece of paper, with scores of variable columns detailing the names and times for hundreds of cable and network channels... phew...It must be frustrating to be restricted to five channels of network TV, given all these options... But Mom doesn’t seem to mind and, lucky for her, she actually likes the commercials.

What Mom doesn’t realize is that she’s come to another TV technology threshold. The quality of her daily life could be vastly improved by upgrading her TV system. In just one day, she could have a new, 50” HD TV, with a sound bar, expanded cable, and a voice activated remote control. Her viewing experience would be elevated exponentially.

Mom would never have to cut a newspaper schedule out again. She’d be able to see the picture (relatively speaking), hear the news anchors, identify the channel she’s watching, and have unimaginable choices in program selection. It is clearly a win-win-win all around.

But then - there’s that new remote....Stay tuned.

emily gaffney