4:3 vs. 16:9; tell me what I'm missing here

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Mike Updike, Jan 14, 2002.

  1. Mike Updike

    Mike Updike Auditioning

    Nov 26, 1998
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    I have narrowed my choices for an RPTV HDTV down to two: Sony KP57HW40 (57" WS 16:9) and KP61HS30 (61" 4:3). Other than the screens, the two are identical in every way (including price).

    I did the math and here's what I came up with: a 16:9 "letterbox" picture on the 61" normal TV is the same size as the 57" WS TV. However, a 4:3 picture will only be equivalent to a 46.5" picture when displayed on the 57" WS TV.

    What am I missing here? It seems that the 61" 4:3 normal TV is the way to go. The vast majority of programming is still 4:3 and when it is displayed on the 57" WS TV I will lose a lot (the picture will be smaller than my current 50" Pioneer). However, when watching a 16:9 program on the 61" 4:3 TV, after letterboxing the displayed picture will be the same as the 57" WS TV.

    Does anyone have any of these models? Any recommendations?

    Please offer advice. This is a life-changing decision!

  2. JimmyD

    JimmyD Auditioning

    Nov 28, 2001
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    In the end the answer to your query will probably come down to personnel preference or supplier forces (I've heard rumors that there will be no more 4:3 RP-HDTV sets built after 2002 by any manufacturer). I didn't do the math went I went looking for a 16:9 RP-HDTV (found one - SharpVision 55RWP5H - great line doubler, if you haven't seen it vs. the Sony you should) but even if I had I would have still bought the 16:9 and the reasons why have to do with how the image will be stretched.

    First let's rule out the tv's pure stretch modes (where going from 4:3 to 16:9 everyone is fat or going from 16:9 to 4:3 everyone looks thin) as these shouldn't even be an option.

    Then let's rule out watching the majority of our programming with top/bottom bars or side bars as prolonged displaying with either will eventually cause burn in.

    So finally we have the smart stretch modes where the image is stretched a lot in one direction to fill up the screen and a little in the other direction to keep circles looking similar to circles. On a 16:9 RP-HDTV the top and bottom of the 4:3 image will be chopped off, on a 4:3 RP-HDTV the left and right will be chopped off. Does it matter which direction is chopped, yes.

    If you want to make an epic movie where the landscape plays a big part then heighth is important as it helps denote a sense of size ('Stagecoach') but if you want to make a movie with substantial character interaction and dialogue then width is the main factor ('Manhatten').

    Most all TV shows are about characters (they're just shot on studio sets) so by cutting off the top and bottom using my smart stretch I'm not losing much and movies broadcast on NTSC are pan&scan which is even worse then cutting off the top and bottom of a landscape.

    In the DTV future shows will still be about characters and directors will want to fill more of the width of the screen to show those characters. Smart stretch on a 4:3 will cut off that extra width that directors will start to use.

    I won't even go into how much I'd hate having to watch a football fly to the edge of a 4:3 screen and only get to see the feet of the receiver who just made an awesome catch.

    I don't know if this helps but I do know that I have got to stop writing such long replies.

  3. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Auditioning

    Oct 11, 1998
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    I did the same math as you did and went with the Sony KP61HS30. When I play HDTV it gives a picture about the same size as a 57 inch widescreen TV. However, since 90% of what I watch is still 4:3, I get the extra size for that format.

    In a few more years, 16:9 programming will become 90% of all that is available. At that time, I will upgrade to a new TV. By then, they should be much better and less expensive.

    I hope that HDTV front screen projectors will be available at a good price by then. A 10lb projector on the ceiling and an 80 inch or larger screen on the wall would be a great way to watch DVD and HDTV.

    One thing I have found is that when I watch HDTV or even anamorphic DVD on the Sony, I can move my seat up to within 8 feet of the screen instead of the 16 feet I watch at now for regular 4:3 TV. You still can't see any scan lines at that distance and the picture appears twice as large. This is one major advantage of high resolution pictures.

    Chris Bennett

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