With a baby coming in the next few months, excess discretionary income will soon be a thing of the past. This means I’ve had to fast-track my mid-life-crisis spending plan.

I bought an HDTV. With my tech-savvy wife’s blessing. It has changed our lives for the better.

I did it all as cheaply as I possibly could. Why pay $100 at Best Buy for a 6ft HDMI cable when you can get it for less than $5 at Monoprice?

I ordered the TV online from Visual Apex who had the cheapest price on it at the time. I got a 50″ Panasonic plasma (TH-50PZ700U) for like 30% off the retail price.

I also paid guys to tear apart my walls to hide all the wires.

The TV now hangs above my fireplace, a set of 5.1 speakers hangs on the walls surrounding it, and there’s no wires to be seen anywhere. They patched the drywall and matched the texture but we haven’t repainted it yet, so I don’t have any photos of the end product for you. Yet.

For a while I felt like it was the most expensive mistake I had ever made. I was used to watching my old TV just a few feet above the ground, and this higher mount took some getting used to. Seeing my walls all torn up and then patched again was also really traumatizing and I kept asking myself if I had made the right decision.

It’s been about three weeks now and all those doubts are gone.

Watching TV in HD is like wearing glasses for the first time after thinking you really didn’t need to wear glasses. If you’ve not yet made the jump to HD, you have no idea how much you’ve been missing out on. It’s made me avoid watching regular standard definition TV altogether. I’m even getting rid of all of my DVDs because while they do look good, HD-DVDs just look so. much. better.

So yep, I picked up Planet Earth on HD-DVD and the HD-DVD add-on for the 360. The contrast between SD and HD is so striking it’s like night and day. There’s just no going back!

And video games? Holy cow. Bioshock at 1080i with 5.1 surround is really something special. And scary.

I decided to stick with Dish Network for programming. Their HD lineup is unstoppable, and their newer DVR receivers can power not one, but TWO televisions in your house, all without any extra wiring or any extra fees. My standalone Tivos with lifetime service have been my best pals for many years, but HD Tivo doesn’t play nice with anything other than digital cable, so they’re now keeping each other company in a closet. So sad.

The Dish PVR software isn’t too bad though, and while I miss Tivo I’m starting to realize that it maybe wasn’t the be-all and end-all of DVRs that I had somehow made it out to be in my head. Being able to record two shows at once and doing it in HD while watching a third HD program using the off-air tuner is pretty much the greatest thing ever.

I kind of wish I could have all of the standard definition channels removed from my service, but that’s unfortunately not an option. I really don’t watch them anymore, except for the History channel, and History HD launches tomorrow anyway!

Anyway that’s what I’ve been up to.

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