Flat screens continue to get cheaper.
If you are in a high sales tax state the chances are fair that you have purchased expensive electronic or photographic goods out of state by mail order. The sales taxes saved, not to mention the satisfaction of knowing that you are starving the beast that is government, outweigh shipping costs.
So it’s not lost on me that the wonderful B&H AV catalog is not only from an out of state vendor to this Californian, but also contains some 35 pages dedicated to televisions. Or, as I prefer to think of them, picture frames.
The traditional gallery model, adopted in my home theater requires the viewer to walk around and gaze at each wall hung picture in turn. He can, of course, enjoy an interactive experience by clicking on the hotspots in the electronic panorama version. That’s pretty neat. But it’s still nice to look at a Really Large Print mounted on the wall.
So why not just scrap all those frames and mattes and hangers and replace all of them with but one large screen flat panel television monitor? We look at pictures on computer screens all day and the definition is just fine. And while it’s true that a gallery with multiple hanging pictures can entertain more than one viewer at a time, in the home you are usually dealing with one viewer only, so that’s not an issue.
Let’s pause for a moment and consider the economics. My home theater displays fifteen pictures, each 13″ x 19″ framed and matted 22″ x 28″. Each picture costs maybe $10 to print, taking into account paper, ink and depreciation on the printer. The mounting board and matt add another $25, the frame and glass $35. So that’s $70 a framed print or $1,050 for the fifteen hanging on the walls. And those are DIY prices. Don’t even think of going to the framing store. Suddenly, I don’t feel so good….
The diagonal of a 13″ x 19″ print is 23″; the diagonal of the framed print, with matt, is 36″. The closest TV screen to this size I can find at B&H is 37″ and most run around $1,000 to $1,600 delivered, and that’s for an HDTV model. I can deliver the picture to this screen at no additional expense using my Sony AV unit in the home theater. This device, in addition to playing DVDs, plays CDs with JPGs just fine. Indeed, I can compile JPGs or TIFFs into a QuickTime movie slide show and route the output to a screen of my choice using my iBook laptop computer and a $19 adapter cable from Apple.
Plus I can watch regular TV on this screen and display as many slideshows as I want, as opposed to the static picures on the wall which are incredibly labor intensive to assemble. Indeed, I am comfortable in speculating that I could install one large flat panel television in less time, much less, than it takes to process, print, mount, matt and frame a conventional print. And that print will have a fraction of the dynamic range of the transilluminated ‘slide’ projected by the television. Further, adding music or virtual reality movies with sound effects is very simple, as I have illustrated in these pages.
So what’s wrong with this picture? With limited wall space and nowhere to store hard copy prints, why not scrap them all together and replace the lot with a slim flat panel TV screen? The prints will only get more expensive to make while the TVs will only get cheaper. And you no longer need acres of wall space to show your work.
Here’s the price history of one chosen at random from another web vendor:
I would guess there’s little to choose between brands quality wise, as most screens are made in just two or three factories in the far east. Sony and Samsung, strange bedfellows indeed, make their screens in a jointly owned factory, for example, so there’s no need to go ‘label shopping’ in the mistaken belief that a famous name means better quality.
Update May, 2011: Click here to see how I delivered on the above.