16:9 OR 4:3 big screen-which does one buy now?

Discussion in 'Displays' started by John Garn, Oct 10, 2003.

  1. John Garn

    John Garn Agent

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    My 35" bit the dust and I need a new TV. Putting aside personal preferences I am concerned about black bar burn on the TV screen. If I buy a 16:9 now my wife watches all local programming so there will be black bars left and right or chopped off video top and bottom. If I buy a 4:3 now, by 2006 everything will have black bars top and bottom. It seems like your damned if you do and damned if you don't---
    Can anyone suggest how this dilemma is being addressed?
     
  2. Cliff Olson

    Cliff Olson Stunt Coordinator

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    If you watch a lot of DVDs, then go with the 16:9. You can use the stretch modes for all NTSC 4:3 material. It doesn't look spectacular when stretched, but well worth the trade for 16:9 DVDs.
     
  3. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Don't obsess so much over what you call "black bars." They are simply dead space. Watch the programming.

    There are advantages and disadvantages to either of the two dispay native aspect ratios. But the future is widescreen. So, when you watch a classic film shot in the Academy ratio, ignore the pillarboxing effect and focus on the film.
     
  4. RickER

    RickER Producer

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    I think i have the best of both worlds. I have a 36" Sony 4x3 with anamorphic squeeze. My DVDs look great, and cable doesn't look bad either with the line doubler in the Sony. And for my money, the picture tube is not dead in this new world of plasma, and thin screen TVs.
     
  5. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Almost all prime-time TV is now in HD and formatted in 16:9 ratios. Additionally a lot of the movies on TCM, Sundance, and IFC are letterboxed and fit in a 16:9 set using the zoom mode (of course the 2.35:1 films still have top and bottom dead spaces).

    If you watch HBO movies or original programming, they are now in HD and fit the widescreen sets.

    More and more sports are in HD and fit 16:9.

    Personally, I think that this is a clear choice. But of course, it is your money.
     
  6. Thomas H G

    Thomas H G Screenwriter

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    Does it hurt the tv/picture tube if you watch 4:3 programing on a widescreen tv. There are grey bars on the sides. I was in a showroom and read that. It says that the tube "burns" (i'm not sure if that is the right word)Is it true? Should I go ahead and stretch the picture? It doesn't bother me to watch it either way, I'm more worried about damaging the tv.
     
  7. John Garn

    John Garn Agent

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    I thank all of you for your input but I guess I didn't make myself clear. It is not the watching part that concerns me. It is the technical aspect of the sets---and the resulting damage to one's TV screen if one watches programming with black bars present all too often.

    If I buy a 4:3 TV now, I can watch widescreen just fine except that the top and bottom bars are there all the time which will eventually damage the screen with everything going to the 16:9 format.

    If I buy a 16:9 TV now, with almost all local programming not yet in 16:9 format, I will either get black bars on the sides or a chopped off top and bottom for the next 2-3 years or more.

    Do the sets today have selectable adjustments like the zoom function on a DVD player? With my current 4:3 TV I can put on a widescreen DVD and eliminate the bars by zooming in. With local programming, everythings peachy. So for today, my personal choice is a 4:3 set. But I am concerned if I buy a 4:3 set now, in 2-3 years everything will be 16:9 and the black bars will be there all the time.

    Hope this clarifies my dilemma.

    Thanks
     
  8. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    How soon do you plan to watch in HD John?

    If you are planning on that soon, get a widescreen.
     
  9. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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  10. JackLonn

    JackLonn Agent

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    Go to Projector Central (dot com). They have a GREAT discussion on the pro/con of 4:3 vs 16:9. To me, the key is that you're going to have black bars no matter what WS format you get. The 16:9 will be the same width as the 4:3, but with bars top and bottom. The thing is most WS movies vary in aspect ratio, so you're going to get black bars even if you go 16:9. Ah...., read the article at Projector Central.
     
  11. Tim K

    Tim K Second Unit

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    John,
    I had the same concerns last year (basically). Knowing that there was limited HD programming at the time, and knowing I watch alot of standard (4:3) programming I was concerned. I decided that I watch alot of DVD's and so a 16:9 tv would be best for that obviously...but what about 4:3 material. Well, as mentioned earlier, most of the networks' prime time lineups are now in HD (16:9). That still leaves alot of what I watch (TLC, Discovery, comedy central, etc) in 4:3. I did my research and learned that Pioneer was very well regarded for its "zoom" modes. These don't simply "chop" the top off of 4:3 material to make it fit. They actually use computer chips and stretch the picture horizontally and vertically at the same time. Granted, in some modes a little bit is cut from the top and bottom, and images are a bit "fatter" than normal...but its not too bad. These days, I think most manufacturers have pretty good stretch modes. In addition, most 16:9 tvs include 4:3 mode. This places "white-gray" bars on the left and right of the picture. My Pioneer TV actually varies the intensity of the gray based on the overall brightness of the picture. By using gray bars instead of black, and varying the amount of white and the brightness, you eliminate the possibility of burn in. As mentioned before, burn-in can be avoided by properly calibrating your set and by not keeping static images on the screen.

    My advice, go 16:9 and be (more) future proof. Watch your DVD's in their intended aspect ratio and don't worry about any small black bars on 2.35:1 movies. Its only a couple of hours, and if you watch enough material that fills the screen you won't have to worry about the few times you don't. When watching 4:3 material, use the TV's stretch modes or if you don't like them, use the 4:3 mode with gray bars.
     
  12. John Garn

    John Garn Agent

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    For Lew and Tim
    This has certainly been a dilemma but let me add this info.
    Most of my watching is off DirecTV--so my 4:3 big screen shows most everything that way. What local programming I watch now is thru rabbit ears so that too is 4:3 and, DirecTV has advised that in a few months local programming will be available and that too will be in 4:3.
    I do watch DVDs now and then but that is only perhaps 5% at most of my viewing and if my wife is watching, we zoom out the bars with our DVD player--my wife can't stand them.
    My wife watches 90% local channels.
    So, at this time, my needs are for 4:3 mainly and even if I were to get a really nice 16:9 set even with an HD receiver, most of my watching still would be 4:3 since most of DirecTVs broadcasting is still in 4:3. If 2006 is the most recent deadline for widescreen broadcasts, that leaves 2-3 years of watching 4:3 on a 16:9 and lots of viewing with left/right side bars (which I said before my wife can't stand--black or grey).
    Also, there are about 30 million TV sets sold in the US every year. If you assume that most TVs will last near 10 years, thats 300 million TV sets that could be facing the 16:9 dillemma in 2006--I have to believe someone will come up with some type of external adapter (and cheap) to convert 16:9 to 4:3 for all those people with less expensive tube type TVs.
    The other thing is that almost all tube TVs today are 4:3--even the newer HDTV tubes--which are atrociously expensive when you consider what you are getting. Most TV sales people tell me the manufacturers still have not found an inexpensive way to make a tube HDTV so that adds more to the mix.
    In summary, my needs now and for the next 2-3 years are for 4:3--which leaves me with only one concern. If I buy a 4:3 now (and I can get a 51" HDTV big screen for $1200) if and when we do get to a time when all broadcasting is done in widescreen, what then? Zoom in and create a fullscreen 4:3 image or view widescreen and slowly watch the bars burn into my projection TV screens? Most people tell me projection TVs are more susceptible to burnin--so it is a concern.
    Frankly I would not want to try to make a living selling TVs now and for the next couple years....a showroom full of nothing but 16:9 projection TVs and 98% of the people coming in only really needing 4:3 for the bulk of their watching!
     
  13. NateM.

    NateM. Auditioning

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    I sell TV's everyday, and I make a very good living at it because on an average week I sell over 10. And in the past year I have sold a total of 5 4:3 RPTV's, and I'll tell you why. Unless you have another 2,000 or so to buy a 16:9 set in a couple of years why would you ever put yourself into a position to do just that? The fact is you'll never get true HD quality on a 4:3 set because it's not the native HD aspect ratio. And I've never been able to understand how people can watch something that's been crapped, I mean cropped to fit the 4:3 aspect. And in my showroom at least it's more like 98% of the people coming in wanting Widescreen. "We know we want a widescreen" that's what I hear all day long!

    As far as burn-in on the set goes? I have owned a Toshiba widescreen set for over 2 years, and having payed to get it professionally calibrated I can happily say I have no burn-in, and yet I watch tons of 4:3 material and I don't stretch the images most of the time.

    If you can afford to buy a new set in a few years, hey go for it! Otherwise it wouldn't make sense to go with a 4:3 tv, but hey it's your money and if it makes you happy than that's all that matters, right?

    Happy TV Hunting!
     

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