16:9 or 4:3?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Dylan Savage, Feb 21, 2002.

  1. Dylan Savage

    Dylan Savage Stunt Coordinator

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    Hello all!

    Question - I've never had a 16:9 TV before, and I'm buying a new RPHDTV soon for my family room. I don't have any kids, and my fiancee doesn't watch that much TV, so it's going to be mostly me using it. I do watch cable TV (perhaps switching to satellite) but I also love to watch DVD's and am going to get an HD STB to get OTA HDTV.

    Is 16:9 the way to go? Or is 4:3 more appropriate? I've seen the stretching in the stores on the "full" and "just" modes of the Panasonic 16:9, and it doesn't seem too bad. I guess what I'm asking is, is this something you can live with day to day, or does it get really annoying/distracting? I suppose "Zoom" would do a little better (no distortion) for some material. It's certainly easy enough to switch aspect modes.

    Any input on this? Thanks!
     
  2. steve jaros

    steve jaros Second Unit

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    Steve
    Dylan, i'm a widescreen advocate from "way back" (i.e., the mid 90s!), and i currently own two 16:9 TVs.

    But if i were you (i.e., if i were in the market for a tv today), i'd get a 4:3. Here's why:

    Before this past year, a 16:9 tv was mandatory for lovers of DVDs, because unless you lived in Europe, or unless you felt confident enough to mess with your TV's innards enough to do the "squeeze trick", a 16:9 tv was the only way to get the full display resolution from DVDs that were anamorphically compressed. 16:9 TVs could "unsqueeze" these DVDs and give the viewer a *markedely* improved picture as compared to a 4:3 tv, because 4:3 TVs were not built to unsqueeze anamorphic DVDs.

    But that's no longer the case! All of the major-brand HDTV or HDTV "ready" 4:3 models now come equipped with the ability (at the push of a remote button) to "unsqueeze" anamorphic DVDs. So you get the same sterling picture quality as a 16:9 tv provides.

    You also *don't* suffer the chief disadvantage of a 16:9 tv, namely that so much of the material broadcast on satellite dishes, cable outlets, etc. is still in 4:3 format. And you lose a *lot* of viewing area when you view a 4:3 picture on a 16:9 tv.

    Some people say they don't like the "big black bars" that you have on the top and bottom of a 4:3 surface when watching a 2.35/1 aspect ratio DVD. But that never bothered me. That's an aesthetic issue, and all i care about is the quality of the movie picture i'm viewing...

    Anyway, my 2 cents...
     
  3. Dylan Savage

    Dylan Savage Stunt Coordinator

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    Steve, thanks for the reply.

    As far as aesthetics are concerned, I think I would be more concerned with them while watching DVD's than 4:3, so if it's basically a choice of grey bars watching 4:3 or black bars watching DVD's, I think I'd rather have the grey bars on the 4:3.

    Is that pretty much the only issue? Plus when HD signals become more common, won't most of those be 16:9?
     
  4. Mike I

    Mike I Supporting Actor

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    What part of the country are you in...How much HD programming is in your area..In Orlando for example the majority of the primetime shows are either HD witch the standard is widescreen, or even when they are not HD like some of the NBC shows, they are still widescreen. CBS just had a NCAA basketball game in HD...It was not shoot with a 4.3 frame in mind so the NTSC broadcast was also widescreen...You will be seeing more of this from future sports broadcast...
     
  5. Dylan Savage

    Dylan Savage Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm in Dallas, TX. I haven't looked into the local HD programming, to be honest. I'll have to take a look.
     
  6. Mike I

    Mike I Supporting Actor

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    Dallas is a huge market for HD and there is alot available to you right now...That being the case, definatly go widescreen....
     
  7. Anthony_J

    Anthony_J Stunt Coordinator

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    Remember that you'll have black bars for DVD's regardless of what set you buy, unless you only buy films that are 1.77:1.
    If money weren't an issue, I would have bought a 16:9 set for the cool factor alone. [​IMG]
    When I watch a movie, it's an event and I want to maximize that experience with the biggest screen possible. When I watch TV, however, who cares? I'll accept that I can't see Rachael, Monica, Chandler, Joey, Ross, or Phoebe in a perfect, full-screen, non-stretched picture.
    I'd rather watch a DVD at 47" 16:9 and "Great Chefs" at 36ish" 4:3 than "Great Chefs" at 36" 4:3 and a DVD at 32" 16:9.
    Since you already intend on going HD, by all means get a 16:9 set. Accept the loss on the broadcast stuff, but revel in the glory of big screen anamorphic dvds and HD 16:9 broadcasts. The non-HD broadcast stuff will usually look pretty bad, anyway, because the signal isn't too clean to begin with.
     
  8. Dylan Savage

    Dylan Savage Stunt Coordinator

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    Mike and Anthony, have either of you experienced burn-in running the grey bars on your 16:9 set for 4:3 programming? I know about calibrating the set and bringing it out of "torch" mode which it probably will be in from the factory.. assuming I do that, what risk am I running with the grey bars? Should I just run "Full" or "Just" mode on the panasonic?
    Thanks [​IMG]
     
  9. Mike I

    Mike I Supporting Actor

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    most of the time for news shows and such I use one of the stretch modes..For some serious 4.3 viewing, I don't use the stretch mode and do not have any burn in problems at all...BUt between DVD and HD about 80 % of my viewing is widescreen..
     
  10. Anthony_J

    Anthony_J Stunt Coordinator

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    The "Just" mode on the Panny is pretty good for most shows and isn't really too evident. On the plus side, you can change the picture format with a press of the remote.

    As long as you calibrate the set properly and fill the screen whenever possible, burn-in shouldn't be a huge issue. Fill the screen in most cases and only use the 4:3 mode for DVD's of TV shows, or "serious" TV watching. I don't know if you have to follow Mike's 80/20 split, but it probably wouldn't hurt to keep an eye on your usage.

    Take care of the set and it'll take care of you. Remember that most RPTVs you see with burn-in are in bars or other places where they have to crank the settings up to make the set viewable and keep them that way for 16 hours a day. Yes, it's a danger, but it's not something that'll happen overnight.

    If 16:9 RPTV's were so sensitive that 4:3 could harm it in an instant, I don't think a lot of manufacturers would have put the feature on their sets. Black bars on a 4:3 RPTV are actually worse, and I don't see a lot of people stressing over the number of DVDs that they watch.

    I'd be interested to see how long it would take of normal 4:3 viewing (4-5 hours a day) to burn the grey bars in. Anybody interested in trying it out and getting back to us?
     
  11. PhilS

    PhilS Stunt Coordinator

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    I have a Pioneer Elite 16:9 TV. I never watch anything any more in normal mode. Everything is "natural wide," which is Pioneer's way of stretching the picture more at the sides than in the middle so it looks like it is supposed to by 16:9. After about a week, I couldn't even tell it was stretched, and now when I look at a 4:3 picture, it looks too square to me. In short, I prefer the 16:9 mode for all sources now because the picture is bigger than if I watched it with the bars on the side. And DVD's are great. I think my experience mirrors those of most people who have a 16:9 TV that does even a halfway decent job at stretching 4:3.
     
  12. Dylan Savage

    Dylan Savage Stunt Coordinator

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    It seems there's a split on the issue, with it basically coming down to "what are your priorities". If your priority is on DVD watching and HD - what I mean is, this is where you want your TV looking it's best - then get a 16:9 TV, since both of these will look better on a 16:9 TV. If your priority is normal cable/sat viewing, then get 4:3, since this type of signal will look better on a 4:3.
    Why oh why can't the TV stations just broadcast both? [​IMG]
     
  13. AjayM

    AjayM Screenwriter

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    I think it's going to come down to what you watch the most of. If you are watching 80% 4:3 TV material and only 20% 16:9 (or there abouts) I'd go with the 4:3 set. As another poster mentioned, almost all of the 4:3 sets now do the squeeze easily so you don't loose out on that end. And a 4:3 TV is usually cheaper than a 16:9 TV, sometimes by quite a bit of cash (probably enough to buy the STB).

    I'm facing the same dilema, I'm probably about 60/40 or 70/30 between 4:3 viewing and widescreen viewing, there is some HDTV down here, but I rarely watch network TV as it is so that's not going to help out, and I'm pretty much going to go the cheap route now and wait another 2-3 yrs for HDTV to become more standard before devoting big money to the equipment.

    Andrew
     
  14. Allan Mack

    Allan Mack Supporting Actor

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    I'd get the biggest 4:3 set that you can afford, as long as it has the the anamorphic squeeze feature.

    For example, a 16:9 image on a 36-inch 4:3 set is only slightly smaller than a 16:9 image on a 34-inch 16:9 TV. On the other hand, a 4:3 image on a 36-inch 4:3 set is MUCH bigger than a 4:3 image on 34-inch 16:9 TV. On a 16:9 TV, you will get black bars on the top and bottom (with 2.35:1 material) AND on the sides (with 4:3 material). With a 4:3 TV, you will ONLY get black bars on the top and bottom, NEVER on the sides...

    Also, big 4:3 sets are usually a LOT less expensive than big 16:9 sets. If you watch a lot of 4:3 material like me (such as classic movies and TV shows on DVD which are 1.33:1 ratio), a big 4:3 set makes a lot of sense. Of course, if you ONLY plan to watch widescreen material and HDTV, then by all means get a 16:9 TV--they are the future, after all!
     
  15. Bruce Hedtke

    Bruce Hedtke Cinematographer

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  16. Randy_T

    Randy_T Stunt Coordinator

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    Be sure your new RPHDTV has a DVI input. Wouldn't want to see it be obsolete in a year or less.
     
  17. Michael St. Clair

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    I've spent a lot of time with my 4:3 HD set that some people "don't believe in". After tweaking the hell out of it for 4:3 480i/480p/960i, 16:9 480p DVD, and 1080i HD, I've got nothing to say but wow. Everything looks fantastic, is undistorted, and of a decent size. If I had gone with a 16:9, it would only be shorter (not wider), because I don't have room for a wider set than the one I have.
    I watch a lot of sports (and some 'regular' TV like Six Feet Under and Curb Your Enthusiasm), and it looks just wonderful with the good internal line doubler and the clear, undistorted geometry of the 4:3 mode.
    Oh, and for those who roll your eyes at everyone who buys a set with a 4:3 passive screen (hell, their CRTs are just permanently squeezed 4:3 ones anyway), I guarantee you that my extensive collection of letterboxed laserdiscs look a hell of a lot better on my set than zoomed out on your widescreen sets...even the Pioneer. Not everybody who watches 480i material is watching sitcoms and cooking shows.
     
  18. Roy H

    Roy H Stunt Coordinator

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    Dylan if I were in your position, and I just was, I would go for a larger 4:3 TV for now. I think you will be watching more broadcast TV then you will DVD's. The majority of broadcast shows (90%) are still 4:3 ratio. I am willing to bet with hundreds of millions of 4:3 costumers that have these TV'S they will be for a while. As far as HDTV goes some markets are broadcasting some HDTV content, but I don't want to just watch a program or event that I am not even interested in like a NCAA basketball game just to say I used it. Besides in my opinion even if a program is HDTV, it only looks even better on your analog TV than a normal broadcast. Many people are saying that the Olympics are being broadcast in widescreen and HDTV. I hope it's true because the picture quality on my new Analog Tosh 50" RPTV TheaterView (50A61) while watching the Olympics is just superb, it looks 3D. I am not knocking anyone who decides that HDTV or 16:9 is the way to go but for my money, and the clear savings, I will be happy with 4:3 and analog for a while yet even with digital cable.

    Just my .02 worth.

    Roy.
     
  19. Mike I

    Mike I Supporting Actor

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    I have watched both the analog and HDTV channel of the Olympics and the picture quality on analogs best day does not even come close to the quality of HDTV...There is no comparison..Not even in the same ball park..
     
  20. Roy H

    Roy H Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi Mike, I agree with you if you are looking at a HDTV broadcast on a (HDTV READY) TV the picture is way better. But most are HDTV upgradeable, unless you spend a few bucks more, like ($200.00) more. Well yea it's a better picture. But the only problem is the Olympics only come around every four years! The simple fact still remains the same, the quality of a HDTV broadcast will not give a 4:3 TV any less PQ with digital or analog cable!!!!!!!!!!! But on the other hand analog cable or even digital with mostly 4:3 broadcast and very limited HDTV programs makes a HDTV useless for most normal TV viewing in my opinion. I do not even want to mention the 16:9 (Widescreen) issue when watching regular TV from any sorce!

    Roy.
     

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