i've been waiting all day but my 42" panasonic viera LED 3D HDTV (TC-L42ET5, $698) finally arrived around 4pm. i asked the UPS delivery guy to bring it inside the house instead of just leaving it on the front porch.1 he hesitated for a split second before seeing my sling and realizing my special condition. i opened up the box, but i couldn't lift out the HDTV with just only one hand so i had to endure the unusual situation of having a brand new television sitting in my living room but unable to use it. if only i could get somebody to help me... as if reading my mind, i looked outside and saw jack coming home from work. after some light chitchat about my broken collarbone, i asked him if he could help me with my television. lifting out of the box is supposed to be a 2 person job but jack just grabbed the HDTV and pulled it out without breaking a sweat. he set it down on the floor for me before leaving.
even with the televison out i still couldn't do anything with it since i still needed to put it on its pedestal. i was able to check that the screen hadn't been damaged during shipping since i noticed some of the styrofoam padding were cracked. later in the evening i realized i could still play with the television even though it's not fully assembled yet. so i ripped a hole in the plastic still wrapped around the television so i could plug it in. it flashed to life, asking me to go through the initial setup menus.
since the HDTV wasn't hooked up to the cable yet (not that it'd do any good, because i still have an analog cable box), there was no image. but since it's a smart tv with internet capabilities, i figured i could see some content online. i let the tv scan for hotspots and was surprised when it only found one, one of my neighbors from across the street with an n-bandwidth network. since i only have a g-bandwidth, could the tv not see my wifi? i tried to input the network manually but that didn't work. after retrying the signal search a few more times, it finally discovered all available networks and i was finally able to connect.
the panasonic comes with several internet apps and you can add more. the suite of programs looked good on paper but not very practical (for me at least) in practice: you can facebook and twitter, but i don't really use those services; you can skype, but only with the addition of an optional ($80) made-for-hdtv-only internet camera; it can access netflix, hulu plus, and amazon instant video, but those are paid movie/television services i don't subscribe to; there is also a spot for ads, which i find obnoxious (currently advertising the new myspace). the only app i could actually use was youtube. i tried it, and it seems to be a access-limited version, with content that may very well be paid advertisements. i did a search and it only pulled up just a handful of possible results. worse, the input is just a one-line string of alphabetically/numerically-organized characters on top of the search field, so it pretty much takes forever to enter a search term. there seems to be an option of using a smartphone or a tablet to control the interface, but i have neither so i couldn't test that function; anything would be better than the default string-line-input search method. i also heard of an online rumor that certain brands of wireless keyboards are also secretly compatible with the panasonic HDTV; i'll have to look into it.
connecting to the internet itself takes some time. when the television first turns on, i have to wait half a minute or more before it's able to find the wifi network and get an IP number from the SMTP server. the apps themselves look nice, but they're a bit clunky on the refresh as it takes a second or two for new screens to redraw. i don't think i'll use much of the smart tv functionalities. maybe if i ever sign up for netflix (or use my sister's account) this might change. internet capabilities on HDTV - in my experience at least - are gimmicky and not really that useful. if i wanted to surf on the HDTV, the better option is to just connect to a laptop (more on that later).
the sound on the built-in panasonic HDTV speakers is kind of tinny. this may be because i have the tv sitting on the floor, blocking the speakers. in the consumer report tests, sound was a weak spot (compared to the samsung, where 3D was the weak spot). i won't know for sure until i can get it set up on the stand.
the biggest draw for me about the panasonic TC-L42ET5 was the 3D capability. i've experienced HDTV's before, but a 3D HDTV? that was something new. the trick was finding some 3D content. i went online to the fuji camera site and downloaded a few 3D MPO files to test. the television came with 4 pairs of glasses. since panasonic uses passive 3D (at least on this model), there's nothing fancy about these spectacles, just some plastic and polarized lenses. it does have a special design though: instead of resting above the ears, the glasses sort of wrap around the top of the temple like a tiara and then the lenses drop down. it's strange-looking (reminds of me bug antennae) but works surprisingly well, especially for folks already wearing glasses (like me).
the test images were some japanese lanterns and they looked amazing. there's a certain optimal distance to get the best 3D effect. no so much side-to-side which seems fine, but stand too close to the 3D and the images get blurry. so impressed, i dug through my recent photos and found some MPO's i'd taken with my panasonic ZS20, some photos from the blizzard's aftermath back in february. my only regret is i didn't take more 3D photos, but now that i have a 3D HDTV to display it on, i'm sure there'll be plenty of 3D photography in the near future.
there were also some short 3D movie clips on the fuji site but they were in AVI format which the panasonic doesn't support. speaking of which, i wanted to test the USB media player capability of the HDTV. when i plugged in my 32GB flash drive it didn't seem to work. the panasonic also comes with an SD memory card slot and i managed to play a MP4 video file just fine (an episode of bates motel). it had that noticeable "soap opera" effect common to 120Mhz HDTV's, a feature i'm able to turn off (or set to medium value; the television comes default as strong).
back to my 32GB flash drive, i realized i'd formatted to NTFS at one point to test playback of files larger than 4GB. but with the panasonic unable to detect NTFS drives, how would i be able to play HD videos? while a normal movie might be a few hundred MB's, high-quality HD content are counted in GB's. that's when i discovered exFAT. i noticed it recently when i formatted a thumb drive usually apple's disk utility. under system 10.8, one of the new formats was exFAT, which i'd never seen before. previously i'd been using NTFS as my cross-platform file system of choice. windows reads it fine, and i'm able to use it on my mac because i have a 3rd-party NTFS extension installed. but that's the thing: it's not natively supported in OS X, and without the extension, i can only read NTFS, not write to it well. what's great about exFAT is that it's an extension of FAT32, but without the 4GB file size restriction. like FAT32, exFAT is supported under OS X (10.6.x and above), and it goes without saying it plays nicely under windows.
so i reformatted the thumb drive as exFAT and loaded a bunch of movie files. the panasonic was able to read the drive this time. its media player supports MP4 and MKV files, but not the common (although becoming less so) AVI and WMV and neither the DIVX/XVID codecs. panasonic also surprisingly supports quicktime MOV files, which isn't the case with other manufacturers because they have to license the technology from apple. likewise, it can also read adobe FLV files, which also seems kind of unusual. of the formats supported, the videos played fine, but i did run into audio problems with 2 MKV's.
after a short while i was finally able to download a few 3D movies to test. if thought the 3D MPO photo files were cool, the 3D movies definitely brought another smile to my face. watching the hobbit in 3D is a magical experience. like with the 3D photos, the movie gets burry when i stand too close to the HDTV; it looks best from a distance.
the final test of the evening was to see how well the HDTV would work as a computer monitor. i found my HDMI-to-DVI cable, then used a DVI-to-mini-displayport adapter to connect to my macbook pro. i then closed the laptop so i could operate in clamshell mode, and used the magic trackpad as my input device. at first the desktop spilled over the edge of the screen, until i discovered the fine adjustment slider in the display control panel. the wireless trackpad worked very well: with a bluetooth range of 33 feet, i could be at the far end of my living room and still be able to move the cursor around the HDTV screen. it would be nice however to have a wireless keyboard as well.
i've been debating which is worse: breaking my collarbone or breaking my foot. my decision-making process is possibly tainted since i'm currently suffering through a broken collarbone. right now the collarbone seems the worse of the 2 experiences. with a broken foot i was still able to get around, i just had to wear a boot. i wasn't able to ride my motorcycle, but i probably could've bicycled (although it happened during a period in my life where i've yet to rediscover the joys of cycling). a broken collarbone means i can't move the entire upper left quadrant of my body. it's more difficult to perform daily tasks without the use of an arm as well as a hand. there are so many more things i can't do without arm-hand versus just a foot. i'm not sure about healing wise, but i feel like my chances with the collarbone are better because i went to the hospital immediately afterwards, whereas when i broke my foot, i walked on it for 3 days before realizing it was broken.
breaking a collarbone seems incredibly easily, i'm surprised this hasn't happened before. all i really did was just to fall down on my shoulder and that's all it took. it all happened so fast, i'm kind of not clear what exactly happened. i remember smashing my shoulder to the ground, but i also used my hand to brace the impact (from the scratches on my palm), so that could've also broken the collarbone. and maybe i hit the handlebar as well?
i took an oxycodone tablet before going to bed last night. it made it easier to fall asleep, but i still woke up relatively early at 7:00. i finally figured out how to put on a pullover shirt the correct way, without moving my arm. the trick is to get both arms into the arm holes first before gently pulling the rest of the shirt over my head. it seems so obvious now, not sure why i didn't think of it before. that's because my usual way of putting on a shirt is to sort of pull into the shirt with one arm and my head, and then pull the other arm through.
1 the comment on the tracking detail said the package was left "met customer man."