? about 4:3 letterboxed shows on 16:9 TV

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jason Hartman, Aug 21, 2002.

  1. Jason Hartman

    Jason Hartman Auditioning

    Mar 9, 2001
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    Hi gang,

    I current have a regular 4:3 32" TV. Some shows, like ER or the Soprano's or several others, show up as letter-boxed on my TV when watching digital cable. What will happen when i try to watch these shows on a 16:9 set?

    Will the TV somehow know that its a 16:9 image and then make it fill up the screen? Or will it still think of it as a 4:3 image and give me black bars? Will i have to switch from a "stretch" mode to a "16:9" mode or something?

    How about the shows that are letter-boxed but have the little channel logo that overlaps into the black bar area? It doesn't seem that the "image area" of the screen is a distinct entity. It just seems that the black bars are painted into the full frame picture. Don't know if you can understand what i'm saying.

    I just need to get educated because i will be getting a new 65" HDTV wide-screen Toshiba soon. I'll need to know if i need to switch various picture modes when i switch from watching DVD's, and Comcast digital cable signals. Will i have one setting for the DVD's and then switch to like a "stretch mode" for all cable watching? Or will i need two modes for cable - a 4:3 full-frame and a 4:3 letterboxed?

    Thanks alot for any light you can shed on the situation!

  2. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

    May 19, 2002
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    This depends on your equipment, but basically not to worry, but there are a few issues. First thing is to set your output devices such as your DVD player, VCR (presuming you have one and its reasonably new) to 16:9 output. These options are normally in the setup menu. I don’t anything about your cable company, as I use DirectTV, but as its digital, this option probably exists for that box as well.

    Check your new TV options (I don’t know this Toshiba model) and make sure that you select an appropiate mode (there are so many different possibilities here that its hard to say). This should take care of the majority of your viewing problems. But it is possible that you might need to change manually.

    Shows such as ER will fill the screen automatically. Shows such as West Wing that are (at least in my area) only telecast in 16:9 over the HD channels, will format properly to 16:9, assuming that your cable company delivers the HD feed; otherwise you will probably get the standard telecast and have 4:3 with black bars on the side of your screen.

    You may have to occasionally manually use one of your zoom modes to properly fit some telecasts or DVDs. For example I have seen sets and DVD player combination that did not automatically format some 16:9 enhanced movies. The initial display looks like 4:3 with tall, narrow people. Placing the set in “full” mode will cure that. And so forth.

    I never use any stretch modes to fill the screen, as I don’t like picture distortion or cropping. With a 65” set, you should have so much viewing area that you won’t care about black bars on 4:3 telecasts or 2.35:1 movies.

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