Defeated by technology

Yesterday, we bought a new television. It’s a 42″ LCD something-or-other from Sanyo; it fills the entire corner of the tv room. (This was by no means the largest model available; they had 80″ televisions – i.e., about as big as a king-size bed. Um. No, thanks.)

The TiVo and Apple TV connect to it via HDMI, which is nice. The Wii could, if we were willing to pay $25 for an adapter cable; we aren’t, so it’s connected to one of the old-style video ports.

It’s a nice tv, but we did run into one problem with it. Whenever we hit the closed-captioning button on the remote, a box popped up on-screen: NOT AVAILABLE. Um. Why not? The old tv had closed captioning.

I did a little poking around this morning; the helpful site hdmi.org had this to say:

Q. Does HDMI support Closed Captioning?

The evolution from analog to digital TV has added some complexity to Close Captioning (CC). With one standard way of broadcasting/transmitting, decoding and displaying content NTSC or PAL, depending on region, analog TV made enabling CC fairly easy across CE devices since the TV was able to do all the CC decoding.

With the advent of digital TV and the introduction of digital HDTV services (cable, satellite, etc.) the responsibility of decoding CC has been taken away from the TVs and put into the various Set Top Boxes (STB) that are required for the majority of the digital HDTV services. Additionally, these STBs now have different ways of enabling CC making it complicated and creating confusion for consumers. All set-top boxes are required to support CC, however the implementation of CC can vary from one product to another. Enabling CC on a specific set-top box can be simple, or more difficult, depending on the implementation.

HDMI, LLC recommends contacting your TV service provider (cable, satellite, etc.) for the correct way to switch on its CC feature as a first step to resolve this issue. The second step is to contact the manufacturers directly for the correct way to enable the CC feature within your product.

So the button on the tv remote is purely decorative, until the (unlikely) day we ditch cable and limit our viewing to broadcast only; instead, we must enable captioning on the TiVo. According to the TiVo manual, this is not particularly difficult, so I suppose I’ll skip the don’t-you-people-think-about-these-things rant I was originally planning to write here.

(And there was much rejoicing among the loyal readership….)