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4:3 vs 16:9


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#1 of 18 OFFLINE   Mike Thompson

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Posted July 15 2002 - 09:42 AM

Assuming equal quality sets, and that the 4:3 has enhanced (squeeze) features, what disadvantages are there to the 4:3 set? We do a significant amount of TV watching, so there won't be burn in on the 16:9. The bars while watching a WS movie don't seem to bother us. Everytime I go into BB or CC to check out sets, it seems they are playing a zoomed out 4:3 program on a WS tv and it looks like crap. For those of you who use your 4:3 HD RPTV for all your viewing, do you wish you had bought a WS?
Mike

#2 of 18 OFFLINE   Greg Kettell

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Posted July 15 2002 - 09:52 AM

I've been looking at this too, and I had pretty much decided to go with a 4:3 but I've changed my mind and am now looking at 16:9

The drawback to 4:3 HDTV sets, ironically, is with watching 4:3 material. All HDTV sources now are 16:9 - And sometimes HD stations show 4:3 shows upconverted in a 4:3 window. On a 4:3 set you'll have bars on all four sides for these programs.

#3 of 18 OFFLINE   Louis C

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Posted July 15 2002 - 09:54 AM

I liken this question to one they had when color tv was first introduced. "Why buy a color tv when most programs are in B&W?"

The future is W I D E S C R E E N

#4 of 18 OFFLINE   BruceSpielbauer

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Posted July 15 2002 - 11:08 AM

With either choice, you will find programming that DOES NOT fit the set. Then, you must choose to go with the bars (at the sides, or top and bottom, or both), or to stretch, or zoom, or crop, etc.


4 X 3 means your 4 X 3 stuff will look better, but DVDs and (most) HDTV will not.

16 X 9 ( means your DVDs will look better, and HDTV will look better, but the old standard satellite (or cable TV) will not.

16 X 9 is better planning for the future, as more and more programming begins to be offered in widescreen format, and finally stations (presumably) will make a switch to 16 X 9.

What do you watch, today? What do you THINK you will be watching, in six months? In a year?

I chose 16 X 9. It was the right choice, for me. I watch all 4 X 3 using a variable stretch mode. I do not mind, in the least. No bars. Slight strecthing at the sides. very slight cropping. I am not even certain anyone else in my house has even NOTICED that they are watching a strecthed mode. Nobody has said a word, going on five weeks now . I watch my DVDs in true aspect, or zoomed on a few (the really wide ones, 2:35:1, and 2:40:1, for example). Depends on how I feel as to whether I Zoom these.

-Bruce

#5 of 18 OFFLINE   Steve Schaffer

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Posted July 15 2002 - 02:19 PM

Mike,
Buy what best suits your veiwing habits and priorities, both now and for the expected life of the tv.

In my case I wanted the best picture and biggest picture for my best sources--dvd and HD, even though I do watch a lot of ntsc stuff. I bought a widescreen set.

I'm willing to accept stretch modes or a smaller 4/3 picture than I'd get on a similarly sized 4/3 set.

My set is a 57" Sony widescreen. In order to get a 57" widescreen image on a 4/3 set, I'd have to get at least a 61" model. ntsc from a mediocre cable or satellite channel looks really nasty blown up to 61". The 4/3 image on my widescreen set is down around 48-50", still plenty big but the inherent nastiness of mediocre cable is less noticeable than it would be on a 61 incher.

You may place a higher priority on 4/3 ntsc, especially if your a big sports fan, and be willing to accept a smaller widescreen image for dvd and HD. If this is the case then 4/3 would be a more logical choice, especially if you're in an area that's going to be very slow to get local HD material.

A 53" 4/3 set won't make a less than perfect ntsc signal look to terrible, and the 16/9 image will still be a respectable 47-48". If you're a huge sports fan in addition to dvd enthusiast you might be happier with this scenario.




If you get a 4/3 rptv, make sure it will do a true squeeze for both dvd and HD. Some 4/3 HD-ready rptv sets will do a true squeeze only for HD, but not for dvd. These models will have a 16/9 mode for dvd, but it's only a downconversion done in the tv instead of the dvd player.

Sony's 4/3 models will do a true squeeze for both dvd and HD, I'm not sure about other makes.
Steve S.
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#6 of 18 OFFLINE   Tomas.M

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Posted July 15 2002 - 03:22 PM

Steve,

Please enlighten me regarding sports on 16X9. Is there a big problem here? I had pretty much decided to go 16x9 but this has thrown a new wrinkle into the equation that I have not seen discussed. I do watch a fair amount of football during the season and some playoff basketball. Problems?

Thanks

Tom

#7 of 18 OFFLINE   Jeffrey R

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Posted July 16 2002 - 03:12 AM

I think that Steve's point regarding sports is that most sports are currently, and will be for some time, broadcast in 4:3, not widescreen and not HD. Thus, you will need to stretch most sports programming to fit a widescreen, as opposed to watching it normally on a 4:3 tv. I have a 43" 4:3 Sony HDTV, and I am very happy with my purchase. If I had it to do over again, I would have bought the 53" 4:3 Sony HDTV, but still not the Sony widescreens. It's not a no-brainer, but I would stick with 4:3 again.

Regarding Bruce's comments above that DVD's and HDTV look "better" on 16:9 screens, I think that is an inaccurate statement. My 4:3 Sony performs the true squeeze for anamorphic DVD's and HDTV. Thus, DVD's and HDTV look the same on my tv as on a 16:9 tv. Of course, a widescreen DVD or HDTV program will look substantially bigger on one of the 51" or 57" Sony widescreens than on my tv, but not necessarily better. DVD's and HDTV look outstanding on the Sony 4:3 HDTV's. I wouldn't sway you from getting a widescreen--they are great tv's. But since I watch a lot of cable, to go along with DVD's and HDTV, I preferred the 4:3 screen so that nothing is shown other than as intended (that is, not stretched).

#8 of 18 OFFLINE   Tomas.M

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Posted July 16 2002 - 07:17 AM

Jeffrey--

Thanks for the response. So given my tolerance for the various stretch modes offered in 16x9 there's nothing else specific about sports programming that should deter my choice? No picture problems beyond the typical distortion caused by stretching a 4:3 image?

Tom

#9 of 18 OFFLINE   Jan Strnad

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Posted July 16 2002 - 07:50 AM

I was really surprised at how acceptable a properly stretched picture is for my 4:3 viewing on a 16:9 set. I'd been horrified by the stretched pictures I'd seen in showrooms, but there are several modes to choose from and I find Toshiba's "widescreen 1" option quite palatable. It stretches the edges and leaves the center pretty much unchanged.

About sports: Funny, but much of the HDTV stuff I've seen on demo in stores was football. But I'm not a sports fan so I don't know how much is broadcast in HD, if any, or what the chances are of HD sports in the near future. Seems like widescreen would be awesome for sports.

Jan
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#10 of 18 OFFLINE   Jeffrey R

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Posted July 16 2002 - 08:50 AM

Quote:
Thanks for the response. So given my tolerance for the various stretch modes offered in 16x9 there's nothing else specific about sports programming that should deter my choice? No picture problems beyond the typical distortion caused by stretching a 4:3 image?


I don't have a widescreen set (some friends of mine do), so I can't speak with certainty, but there should be nothing specific about sports programming that should deter you from getting a widescreen set. The fact is, sports are perfectly set up for widescreen, it's just that most sports are still broadcast 4:3. I am looking forward to CBS HD college football this fall (they broadcast 1 SEC game in HD each Saturday), but that is the exception right now, not the norm. Of course, if you get HD-Net, you get a decent amount of sports. Bottom line, if you can tolerate the stretch modes, then by all means, get a widescreen.

#11 of 18 OFFLINE   Frank Frandsen

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Posted July 16 2002 - 02:36 PM

Here is a great site on the benefits of a 4:3 screen at this time. It conviced me to go with one. :

http://homepage.mac.com/hdtv_guide/

Frank

#12 of 18 OFFLINE   Steve Schaffer

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Posted July 16 2002 - 03:16 PM

Other than the stretch factor, sports is not a problem on a 16/9 set.

These widescreen sets have a variety of ways to handle 4/3.

You can have a regular 4/3 image with gray bars on the side.

You can have a uniform horizontal only stretch, making everything short and fat the same amount on all parts of the screen.

You can zoom the picture--this mode does a uniform zoom, geometry is not affected, but the top and bottom is cropped. In this mode the picture can be scrolled up and down so scores or crawls at the top or bottom that would normally be cropped off can be made visible.

You can have a variable stretch, more stretch at the sides than in the center.
Some sets have more than one version of this mode.
The variable stretch modes are the ones that differ from one mfg to another. Some just stretch the sides more than the middle, resulting in a severe funhouse mirror effect at the sides of the screen.

Others stretch a bit even in the center, throw in some vertical compression at the top and bottom and otherwise do little tricks to make the variable stretch more palatable. Some also include the scroll feature in this mode. Toshiba, Pioneer, and Sony do it quite well, Hitachi does it poorly, Mits is changing all the time--older ones weren't too good but newer ones are said to be much better.

I can watch car races in variable stretch mode on my Sony without it looking too distorted, but sometimes use a straight zoom and then scroll to get banners off the screen to prevent burn in.

Tolerance of stretch modes is a very subjective thing, some folks hate any and all stretch modes and some can tolerate really poor ones.

This is one thing that you can and should check out on the display sets in the store before deciding.

I must add that even though I'm not a real sports fan, I will watch Hockey or MLB on HDNet--sports in HD is absolutely amazing!
Steve S.
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#13 of 18 OFFLINE   Mike Thompson

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Posted July 17 2002 - 01:37 AM

Well, thanks for all the input. Now I'm thoroughly confused; it looks like I need to find the set I like with the compromises I can live with. I was in Fry's, and looking at 4:3s when I saw the Grand Wega. Wow. It was playing right next to a couple other LCDs and a plasma; the Sony was the best looking of the bunch. The salesman told me it was a small LCD projected onto a larger screen. Amazing. Oh well, back to the homework, I guess. I just picked up an RP91 for $200 open box at CC; they couldn't find the manual. Anybody have an extra one?
Mike

#14 of 18 OFFLINE   BruceSpielbauer

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Posted July 17 2002 - 01:49 AM

RE: your manual question...

Have ou tried Panasonic's web site? Many manufacturers now put their manuals on-line, where you can download them, and print them out, as you desire.

I have found manuals for my universal learning remote, my amp, and my DVD player in recent months, all on-line any time I needed them.

-Bruce

#15 of 18 OFFLINE   Mike Thompson

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Posted July 17 2002 - 06:07 AM

Yep, thats what I thought. They have download manuals for everything, incl. RP56. But not for the '91. I ended up buying it for $18 w/tax, shipping.
Mike

#16 of 18 OFFLINE   Michael TLV

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Posted July 17 2002 - 07:04 AM

Greetings

One item not talked about here. 4:3 material from cable/satellite/what ever ... will inherently look better on a 4:3 TV than on a 16:9 TV.

16:9 sets must digitally process the 4:3 signal one additional step to make it fit the 16:9 frame.

4:3 shows it native. One less stage of processing.

Decide what is more important to you ... and this debate is not anything like the colour tv/B&W tv debate since both TV's will show both formats without any problems.

Many of today's sets are actually the same guts in either a 4:3 cabinet or a 16:9 cabinet. Literally, with a flick of a software switch ... the TV will become/behave like the other type on command.

Regardless of where things are heading ... last time I looked ... HD programming was still less than 10% of overall programming. I don't see that changing very quickly.

Maybe 5 years from now, but then I might be looking for a new TV then ...

Just make sure that you keep to your viewing habits. If you get a 4:3 TV and then decide to use the 16:9 mode most of the time, prepare of crt burn in ...

Regards
Michael @ The Laser Video Experience
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#17 of 18 OFFLINE   Mike Thompson

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Posted July 17 2002 - 02:27 PM

Very sagely put, Michael. Does it seem most of the new technology is going toward WS? While at CC buying my RP91 I was talking to the sales guy about TVs; he mentioned he had a no-box Diamond Mitsu 65-something or other cheap. But looking at it, switching to a local cable station that I watch, the picture was pretty horrible. Maybe someone who has calibrated a lot of different boxes, do you have a couple suggestions of 4:3 RPTVs to look at, 60" or larger?
Thanks
Mike

#18 of 18 OFFLINE   Michael TLV

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Posted July 17 2002 - 02:59 PM

Greetings

Not remembering the model numbers, but Sony, Panasonic, Hitachi, and Toshiba all sell 4:3 61" sets.

OF these, the Panny might be the most interesting since it allows you to effectively turn off the line doubler for non-component video signals like cable and vhs ...

Believe it or not, this actually makes some of the lower quality sources look sharper. ( an illusion but it works.)

Regards
Michael @ The Laser Video Experience
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