What happened to just plugging the TV in?

So, kids, there used to be a day when you could go to the store, pick up a television, bring it home and actually watch TV. No, hear me out, I know it sounds like some kind of crazy fantasy, but it’s true. Once, in those wild college days, we even scoured back alleys for old wood-paneled television sets, brought them home and they actually worked.

This weekend we finally decided to make our big investment, and buy a television. We’ve been watching Battlestar Galactica and various DVDs on our laptops, which is fine, but we need to hear some German television. Is the idea. For learning purposes. So off to Saturn we toddle, and invest in an extremely inexpensive hotel-style set. Ready to go.

Naturally, being the extraordinary but generally counter-productive cheapskate that I am, I argue against getting a DVD player, even a cheap one. My laptop has an SVideo out, and sure, the TV doesn’t have one, but there are converters, I see. Surely I can hack something together.

So we get it home (or technically, the delivery guys get it up the stairs). We plug it in. Blue screen. Kein signal. We plug the long antennae cable into the wall. Nothing. No signal. A little research tells us, belatedly, that there’s no such thing as analog TV in Berlin anymore, everything’s digital, which means that we need digital receiver box to get even the basic channels. Grump.

I plug in the computer. After some fiddling, I get a black and white picture. Not really what I’ve been looking for. I shake the antennae. Because, kids, in the stone age, that’s what you did when the color wasn’t there. No good. I find an SVideo help page and follow some software tweaking instructions. No good. I give up, and then H4X0R 4imee finds a few sites explaining that SVideo’s no good with the proprietary plugs they use over here, there’s some color vs. light transmission issue that strands us in the B&W era, unless we open up the connectors and actually solder a couple of pins together.

So there’s where we are. TV, no signal. No DVD-watching. I guess we’re gonna get really geeky on this one, break something, and then have to go buy a DVD player and a digital tuner like we’re supposed to. Did I mention that I love television?

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