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    Hanging on to 60” inch TV with junk in the trunk

    As soon as I saw the mammoth TV with the wide screen, I thought of a friend of mine. The big-screen TV was a floor model that probably weighed a ton, and was sitting in a back room at the local Salvation Army thrift store.

    I thought about her because she and I had had a conversation a month ago about a similar 60-inch TV in her home that she was going to have fixed.


    rear-projection TV

    The picture on the Sony rear-projection TV at the Salvation Army store. Reflected on the screen are also items inside the store. At the bottom right is another character from the show who is not visible except up-close.

    She had found a TV store where folks were willing to allow her to bring it in, have them to determine if it could be repaired, and then charge her for the look-see. If they could fix it, then they’d charge her for repairs. She was seriously considering doing just that when she could buy a 60-inch TV at Walmart with less junk in the trunk for probably the same price. And she was adamant about not giving up on it.

    So when I saw the big-screen TV for $59.99 at the Salvation Army – an “RCA 52″ big screen TV, sold ‘AS IS’ with no guarantee” – I photographed it so she could see what it was worth. Then as I made my way through the store, I came across another one: A 65-inch Sony big screen for $379.99. I suspect that it cost more because it was a Sony and it actually worked.

    The store had the TV turned on, and the picture was blurry and the colors were muted. It was showing an episode of “Pawn Stars,” but the picture, as expected, was awful. No comparison to today’s 4K and 5K flat or curved screens.

    rear-projection TV

    One of two rear-projection TVs in my friend’s home.

    By the time I mentioned both of my finds to my friend, she had decided that she would not waste her time and money repairing a 20-to-25-year-old TV that technology had left behind. She remembered buying the Phillips Magnavox for about $2,000 cash back in the 1990s.

    Big-screen rear-projection TVs were a popular buy in the 1980s and 1990s. For many, it was the best way to watch football and other sports on huge screens. RCA made the first rear-projection TV in the late 1940s but these TVs did not become widespread to the public until the 1970s.

    Most used cathode ray tube technology that necessitated their bulkiness. The screens were large but the pictures were fuzzy. At one point, they did get slimmer, lighter and much improved as the technology changed. In fact, these types of TVs were the first to offer higher resolutions and screens up to 90 inches.

    rear-projection TV

    The $59.95 rear-projection TV in the back room at the Salvation Army store.

    Rear-projection televisions were common until about the mid-2000s when flat-panel LCD and plasma TVs replaced them as thinner and less bulky alternatives. Prices were also dropping on these new and then higher-priced advanced-technology TVs.

    Mitsubishi was the last company to stop making rear-projection TVs a few years ago because of dwindling sales. By that time, you could buy up to a 92″ TV with advanced technology. But consumers could also buy a plasma or LCD TV at some of the same sizes for the same price.

    rear-projection TV

    The backsides of the two TVs at the Salvation Army store.

    As for my friend, she must have loved those big-screen TVs. While at her house recently, I came across another one in another room: A Phillips with its own junk in the trunk. Her two TVs were much nicer than the ones at the Salvation Army. Both had cabinets designed as furniture that blended into the décor of her rooms.

    I’m happy that she decided not to have it repaired. Googling, I came across someone else with a 60″ Phillips Magnavox who wondered in a Q&A forum four years ago if he should have it repaired (yellowish blurry picture, dark around the edges, blues and greens had almost disappeared). He was told that the TV was only worth about $100 and it would cost about $400 for repairs. The answer, obviously, was no, don’t bother.

    Good advice.

    rear-projection TV

    My friend’s second rear-projection TV.

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