After that ‘fix-it’ weekend, I got fed up. Two electronic do-dad’s had malfunctioned on me, citing one of many complicated protection circuits. It was time to bite the bullet and upgrade my stereo. It had to use my existing speakers, handle HDMI/composite/optical input, have a tuner, and bonus points were allowed for techy features. After copious amounts of research, I settled on a certified refurbished Sony STRDH550 from Amazon for $179.99.
I was impressed by the quality and capacity of the unit, and particularly pleased by the direct USB port playing. When hook-up day came, I rearranged and took the time to route some cables nicely, and mount my front speakers high on the wall. No longer did we have to strain to hear the soft-spoken moments that are all too critical to the plotline!
The next weekend the kids enjoyed it, but I also took the time to show them how to replace some electrical outlets. Plugging in my AM/FM radio, I could listen for it to turn off, indicating I had turned off the correct (unlabeled) breaker.
Some of my 2-pronged outlets had a thin ground that was never employed, making the 3-prong conversion a cinch. However, those without (or near water) were getting GFCI outlets, which barely fit in the older boxes.
We also got some quality time playing the original “Empire Builder” game, and learning “Magic the Gathering.” Fortunately, I still have a large collection of old cards to learn/play with.
After the sound upgrade & rearrange, my 32” TV felt underwhelming. It had always been adequate in small spaces, but now I wanted to push back and expand seating in the living room. When an opportunity came to purchase a gently-used 42” I took it. Wow. I had no idea how much a difference that 10” (diagonal) really makes. Watching movies is a whole new immersive experience now.
Like all good rabbit holes, the story doesn’t end there. My nice big TV can really show off content that’s in HD, but my blue ray player can’t seem to deliver it well. I’ve known for quite some time that this was due to the WiFi quality. Since my planned WiFi upgrade will cost a bit, I had the kids help me run some Cat5e under the house. Now (with Gigabit Ethernet) I have resolved most of our streaming issues. Unfortunately, I’ve also discovered that my player can’t really handle HD video at a bitrate higher than 8 Mbps. It’ll never end, I think.
After all those lovely upgrades, I decided I had to be fiscally responsible and pay for them. Selling my old TV and riding mower, I was able to raise $325 of the $380 I had spent! (I don’t need the riding mower now that they’re building a house in the vacant lot next door.)
With tax returns on their way, you’ll have to stay tuned to see what my next upgrade will be…
Thanks for reading!