A fat, obsolete TV on a glass shelf?
December 25, 2012 12:53 PM   Subscribe

About ten years ago, I unplugged an amost brand new TV, and just stopped watching TV entirely. Recently, I moved, and decided to dust off the TV and plug it back in. What I've learned is that there have been some changes in tv land since I've been away.

My first realization of that fact was when I went shopping for a table to put the tv on, and all the tables were designed for flat-screens. A salesman said that I couldn't put a fat-screen on a table designed for flat-screen TVs, and some of the boxes said that too. And then an earlier post on Metafilter about digital signals opened my eyes to another change. I'm like rip van winkle here. So, here are my questions:

1.Is it true that if my TV was made ten years ago, I can't receive any channels on it, even if I get an antenna? Not even local news or PBS? That's the only reason I wanted to plug it in.

2. I thought I'd found a TV table that would support a fat-screen, when I found one that didn't say, on the box, that it was designed for flat-screens. I brought it home and put it together and then discovered that it said it was designed for flat-screens on the inside, in the instructions. But the instructions also say that the top shelf, which is made of tempered glass, will support a weight of up to 200 pounds. Why would a shelf that can support up to 200 pounds of flat-screen not be able to support a 60 pound fat-screen? It's true that the TV is a bit wider than the shelf, and would hang over, but I don't see why that would make any difference, in terms of the weight the shelf will support. And the weight of a my big old fat tv seems to be distributed over a large area than the weight of flat screens, too.

I realize I may seem a bit over cautious, but I've been afraid to put the tv on the table, because I just cringe at the thought of it all that glass shattering. Of course, if I'm correct in believing I won't be able to get any signal on the TV, it's a moot point, because I'm going to put the tv in the trash, and not on the table....

But then I'll still have a tv table sitting in my living room looking stupid without a tv on it and useless for anything else. I can see this all ending up with me buying another new tv that I'll never watch. Sigh.
posted by Transl3y to Home & Garden (21 answers total)
I cant answer about the 'fat box' tv stand (I'd just get a table not meant for tvs), but you need to pick up a digital tv converter. These cost like $45.
posted by sandmanwv at 1:00 PM on December 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

I can't answer your second question, but for your first question, yes. TV has gone digital and if you want to pick up even the major networks, you'll need a converter. DTV.gov has info on that.
posted by johnofjack at 1:01 PM on December 25, 2012

Digital TV conversion FAQ.

Short answer: Your analog tv antenna needs a digital converter box.
posted by elsietheeel at 1:01 PM on December 25, 2012

I suspect the emphasis on "designed for flat screens" is more for to communicate the reverse - not that your 60lb fatscreen won't hold but that this can support the style and weight of the new flatscreens.
posted by infini at 1:11 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

1. Converter box. You may do well at thrift stores now, given that many people who had an old television and bought a box may have now made the leap to a flat-screen HDTV.

2. Those same thrift stores are still getting big hefty TV tables from people who are switching to flat-screens and either wall-mounts or thinner stands. Try there, although I think infini's right about the note.
posted by holgate at 1:16 PM on December 25, 2012

I second infini, but I'd definitely test for tippiness, especially if you have a cat. Depending on how much your tv hangs over the edge, it may not take much for things to come crashing down.
posted by snickerdoodle at 2:13 PM on December 25, 2012

The weight on an old TV is usually more towards the front where all the glass is. You will probably need to move the stand away from the wall so that the part hanging off is the rear of the TV.

Personally, to combat any tippiness, I would attach the TV to the stand and then tether the TV and the stand to the wall (this is how I feel about all seriously top-heavy household items these days). You can buy pre-made straps marketed as baby-proofing straps, earthquake straps, etc., or make your own with a quick trip to the hardware store and some nylon webbing.
posted by anaelith at 2:31 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks for your answers. I'm mulling things over. The points about tippiness are good ones. And I'm also thinking that if l have to invest money to get the old tv to work, maybe I should just invest a couple hundred dollars more and ... buy a flat screen. I'm talking myself into it, by telling myself that even if I never do turn it on, it will still look prettier than the fat-screen, and I won't look such a luddite. I just knew this was going to happen.
posted by Transl3y at 3:19 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

We have an old "fat screen". If you subscribe to cable, you do not need the digital converter box, the cable will do the job. And I believe that if you get a flat screen without subscribing to cable, you'll still need to buy the additional converter to get broadcast channels. I don't think that's built in (although I'm not positive, since we are still in Luddite land). We have our TV on a stand made for a flat screen, but I think it's only a 27" TV. I wouldn't want to put a larger one on our stand.
posted by Kriesa at 4:06 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

In addition to the converter box, you will need a digital antenna (if you don't get cable). There are instructions on the web for DIY versions.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 4:14 PM on December 25, 2012

A fat-screen TV can actually be really nice- they usually have good colors, and might have a better image than a cheap flatscreen.

I don't think you'll need a digital antenna- the crappy rabbit-ears my parents used before the transition worked just fine afterwards, when routed through a converter box, though we lost a few channels- digital TV doesn't degrade as well as analog, so if a channel doesn't come in, it just doesn't come in, no more fuzzy channels. You'll need an external antenna of some kind though, because you won't be able to route the internal antenna through the box.
posted by BungaDunga at 4:25 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you buy a new flat-screen, you will not need to buy a converter box - all TVs sold over the last few years have digital (and usually analog) tuners built in. You can also do the digital converter for your old TV. Digital signals bring a much better picture than analog signals did, and many local stations have side channels (for example, PBS here had channels 6 and 27 on analog, both showing the same thing. Now 6-1 and 27-1 still show the same thing, but there's 6-2 with Spanish language PBS shows, 6-3 with cooking/home improvement type shows, 27-2 with kids shows, and 27-3 for programming that concentrates on international and travel shows. ) The one thing with digital is that either you have a signal or you don't. You can't pull in a slightly fuzzy picture like you can on analog.

I don't know if this appeals to you, but newer flat screen TVs not only have much much higher resolution, but they have HDMI inputs and can utilize Blu-Ray to its full potential, as well as streaming HD players. (Many Blu-Ray players will have capabilities to stream Netflix and other services.) If you end up with a Blu-Ray, Redbox is your friend. You can rent for $1.50 a night there instead of spending $15-$25 per title.

Lastly, for the shelf - pretty much all entertainment center-type furniture is marketed as being made for flat screens. Tube TVs are just about nowhere to be found brand new anymore. What you bought can likely handle your old TV, but as others have said upthread, make sure the front is well supported and won't tip over. Also, make very sure that no metal surfaces on the TV are contacting the tempered glass, especially at the edges. Flat screens are lighter and don't have the weight concentrated on one are like tube TVs do.
posted by azpenguin at 4:44 PM on December 25, 2012

For both the converter box and the TV stand, check out Craigslist. There are a lot of people still converting over to the new stuff. When they do, they don't need those thrings anymore.
posted by Doohickie at 5:58 PM on December 25, 2012

You can find any old entertainment centers that would accomodate your big TV on Craigslist, if you're willing to pick them up. They will probably be ugly and beat up and take up a considerable amount of floor space. A repurposed coffee table against the wall can serve the same function if you are ok with having it low down (this will also give you room to put your DVD player/BluRay/what have you around it.)

What you need to do is decide what you want in more detail. Do you just want a few channels? Do you want to jump in on all the great shows you hear about (this means you need cable). Do you want to watch movies? (then you have to decide on DVD or BluRay and see if Old TV can handle it). Do you care about appearance at all, in terms of elegance/how much room it takes up?

If you go with a non-cable setup, regardless of TV, you might invest in a nice digital antenna; our rabbit ears were crap. You can find them online, often marketed as for RVs, and they pick up a lot of digital signals and even HD (if you get a new set that handles HD).

You could also go a different route; put Old TV in a guest bedroom/your bedroom on a dresser, and get a new one for your living room. You can run cable or set up antennas for both of them.
posted by emjaybee at 6:04 PM on December 25, 2012

Hmmmm, can you call and ask about returning your new entertainment center considering it didn't tell you in the box it was made for a flat screen? My best suggestion would be to go to a thrift store and look around for the old basic boxy-looking entertainment centers (and this is exactly the reason I've kept mine) and either getting a basic cable package or purchasing the analog converter used (you can always check amazon, thrift stores, craigslist). I personally would not invest in a new flat screen if you seldom watch television, but I guess that's just me.
posted by camylanded at 6:42 PM on December 25, 2012

This may not be helpful, but I had the tv-stand problem about a year ago (our tv is HUGE) - I ended up buying Metro Shelving and it works great. Everything fits, super sturdy, cheap as ikea. Helps if you like the industrial look though.
posted by hishtafel at 8:30 PM on December 25, 2012

Just recycle the TV, return the stand, and watch you PBS stuff online.
posted by jeffamaphone at 8:51 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Offer your current CRT television for "free for pickup" on Craigslist or something. Otherwise, see if there are any local stores that will take in electronics for proper "recycling"/disposal.

For (possibly very) sub $500, you can get a really decent 1080p/HD television that's significantly larger than your current CRT TV and will be "widescreen" making it even big screen-y without being bulky. When choosing what to buy, make sure to go for 1080p.
posted by porpoise at 12:39 AM on December 26, 2012

You don’t necessarily need to put your CRT television on an entertainment center.

Here is the magical google search that can help take you down that road.
posted by oceanjesse at 5:22 AM on December 26, 2012

if I'm correct in believing I won't be able to get any signal on the TV, it's a moot point, because I'm going to put the tv in the trash

Some areas still had a few stations broadcast on analog a few years ago, I saw some religious and Spanish language on an analog TV.

It seems like you could just plug the TV in and see if it works without having to buy a special stand for it first. Maybe you have something around you could put it on like a dining table, desk, or floor.
posted by yohko at 4:29 PM on December 26, 2012

My sister had a glass shelf tv stand shatter quite violently even though it was designed and warranteed by the manufacturer for her plasma tv's weight. After seeing the pics of glass embedded in the wall and other furniture in the room and shards of glass 15' away In the next room, I wouldn't put a tv of any weight on one. YMMV
posted by JaneL at 9:15 AM on December 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

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