“There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat, there is nothing wrong with your television set. You are about to participate in a great adventure.”
– Opening narration from The Outer Limits (1963-1965)
This year analog broadcasting is coming to an end. On June 12th 2009 television stations in the United States will stop broadcasting in analog and switch permanently to digital. Digital broadcasting promises to provide viewers with a sharper picture and more diverse programming options, but this unavoidable change is forcing millions of people to buy new television sets or opt for getting a converter box that will often cost them $40 or more. I feel for these people because I didn’t have complete cable TV Access or a digital television myself until 2007.
As much as I enjoy my new television with its giant screen and crisp digital picture, there’s no getting around the fact that the thing looks incredibly generic and lifeless. Much like modern car and home designs, modern televisions have become standardized to such an extent that they all seem to resemble one another. This can be frustrating to someone like myself who enjoys good design and wants their television to compliment the room it’s placed in.
Buying, restoring and modifying vintage televisions can be a pricey and time consuming endeavor, but thankfully there are other options if you want to own a stylish TV set with a retro look. Some modern manufacturers are creating sleek new televisions based on vintage designs that also feature modern technology. If you’re thinking about buying a new television this year, Cinebeats recommends giving the following options some consideration if you can afford them.
Predicta Televisions from Telstar Electronics
The Philco company originally began producing these stylish televisions sets in the late ’50s. Unfortunately they weren’t very reliable and Philco found themselves bankrupt and out of business in 1960. Their TVs disappeared from stores in 1962. 40 years later Telstar Electronics revived the atomic look of Predicta televisions, but enhanced them with modern technology. The current color Predicta Televisions look as good as the original models, but they offer potential buyers a sharper color picture and they’re HD compatible. To see all of the current Predicta designs available visit the official Telstar site: Official Predicta Television Site
HANNspree is a new US company that launched in 2003 and they’re interested in making modern television designs that reflect their buyer’s individual style and personality. They currently offer a wide range of television designs and many of them have a retro look. The images above are just a small sampling of the televisions that HANNspree is selling, but you can see more designs at their website: HANNspree.
In 1968 a British designer by the name of Arthur Bracegirdle created the first perfectly spherical TV known as a Keracolor television. This space age design was well received and briefly distributed in the UK by Decca. Now some innovative Manchester residents have brought the design back to life and are manufacturing a new version of the Keracolor televsion featuring modern technology. According to their home grown website the TVs are being sold to US and UK residents. The site appears to be a little outdated, but it’s well worth a look if you’re in the market for a new TV: The Keracolor Sphere
Brionvega has been manufacturing TV sets in Italy since 1945. They’ve recently modernized some of their classic designs and created new televisions with a vintage look. Unfortunately they’re only selling their televisions in Europe at the moment, but hopefully US residents will be able to purchase them soon. You can contact Brionvega and request more information about their products at their official website: Brionvega – Design TV
Sony Bravia M Televisions
Most of the televisions that Sony produces look the same and are impossible to tell apart, but last year Sony released their colorful Bravia M series. These new modern looking 19″ LCD HDTVs are a nice option for anyone who wants a modern television with a little style, but hopefully in the future they’ll produce larger models of the TV with the same colorful look. You can find more information about Sony’s Bravia M series at their official site: Sony Style.
This has just been a small sampling of the current TV options available to anyone who’s seriously interested in retro design. I recommend doing some more hunting online and make sure you compare prices and read consumer reviews before deciding to purchase a new TV.
For more information about the changes coming to television on June 12th please visit the official government sponsored site where you can get a coupon to help purchase a converter box for your current television if needed: TV Converter Box Coupon Program.