I covet my neighbor's Man Cave.
Dorfman has a small paneled room, lined with his books and sports trophies, close enough to the front door so that if Mrs. Dorfman is out, cigars can be enjoyed. There's just enough room for a leather easy chair and ottoman, where Dorfman himself presides, and a big love seat, where two men can sit without accidentally touching. The focal point of the Man Cave, of course, is the high-definition TV, a once state-of-the-art-and now relatively puny-36-in. (91 cm) liquid-crystal-display (lcd) screen. "Want to watch the Michigan game?" I asked him on a recent Saturday morning. "The Man Cave?" he offered, as usual.
"Come to my house instead," I countered. "I'm testing a new TV. It's supposed to be pretty sweet." Dorfman acquiesced, not realizing that an extremely large and powerful TV was about to rock his tiny-TV world.
Upon arrival, he was awestruck by the monolith that rose from my living-room floor like the obelisk in 2001: A Space Odyssey. "What's that?" he asked. This new HDTV was so big, I had to put it in front of the entertainment center that held my stereo and old HDTV. It was so big, it blotted out the windows and the sunshine that ordinarily would have threatened to ruin a perfect day for watching TV.
"This, my friend, is the Mitsubishi LaserVue-65 in. of blazing, high-definition fury," I said. "Is it a cheap LCD, like the one in your Man Cave? No, it is not. Is it a somewhat better plasma TV, like our neighbor has? Wrong again. The LaserVue is the first HDTV to be powered by lasers!" I paused to let Dorfman think about that, about what the world would be like with such a thing so close to the Man Cave. Then I added quietly, "It's the best home-entertainment display in America."
"How much?" he asked.
"Er, $6,999. But it uses two-thirds less power than an lcd or plasma TV."
Dorfman whistled. "We'll all be on soup lines soon, but at least we'll have great televisions."
I put on the Michigan game, which wasn't easy. Since the TV blocked the shelves that held my cable box, I had to wedge my arm between the LaserVue and the entertainment center to get the remote to work. But once we had the game on, it was worth the slight bruising: the colors were sensational and bright; the players, larger than life. I had lugged a pair of speakers up from the basement and connected them to my sound system for the full surround-sound effect, so when the band struck up the Michigan fight song ("Hail! to the victors valiant/ Hail! to the conqu'ring heroes"), Dorfman, an alumnus, brushed away a tear. Emboldened, I marveled at the superior picture quality. "Supposedly, the reds are redder," I said, pointing at the ruby ESPN logo at the top of the screen.
"Are you sure that's red?" he asked. "It looks a little off."
He was messing with my head, of course, but it shook me. I decided to call blogger Gary Merson, whose HDGuru.com is the bible of the HDTV industry, and ask him the Passover question: How is the laser HD different from all other HDTVs?
"It displays pitch-black blacks, consumes less power than a similarly sized TV and has the widest color gamut of any display ever made," he said. The reds, he noted, were a case in point. Put the LaserVue alongside Dorfman's lcd, and his reds would look orange. Indeed, the LaserVue comes closer than any TV before it to reproducing the colors one sees in a film in a movie theater. Mitsubishi, which has a lock on the technology so far, is working on a 73-in. (185 cm) LaserVue. Merson said prices (and screen sizes) would doubtless diminish over time.
Later, Dorfman took in this info and conceded that the TV was indeed awesome. "You know what would make it even better?" he asked. "If it was in the Man Cave." Yeah, right, as if it would fit.