Cable HDTV

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Barry Carlson, Jun 9, 2003.

  1. Barry Carlson

    Barry Carlson Auditioning

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    I recently added HDTV to my Comcast Cable subscription for $5.00 more per month. With that, I now get 3 HDTV channels: KNBC, KGO, & KQED [I'm also getting Showtime and HBO for free until they figure out how to turn it off. The installer acknowledged this and said "Enjoy it while you can."] For some reason, only the KQED HD feed is portrayed in a widescreen 16:9 ratio on my Sony KV-32HV600 [I have to say that HBO/Showtime were also displayed correctly], which is "HD ready." The other two channels appear scrunched with 4 black bars surrounding the picture.

    Comcast claims that there's nothing either they can do at their end, or that I can do with the settings of the TV or the cable box to fix the problem. They claim that its up to the broadcasters to show it in the correct aspect ratio.

    Does anyone know whether this is true or not? If not, which do I need to adjust: my tv or the cable box?

    Thanks for any help,
    Barry
     
  2. Matt Weldy

    Matt Weldy Second Unit

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    There may be something you can do about but I didnt. Hbo is the worst station sports shows and boxing always has the side letter boxed. I have just accepted it.
     
  3. Darrel McBane

    Darrel McBane Second Unit

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    Comcast is probably right. I used a OTA HD receiver for a short time. In the Seattle are there are quite a few stations that broadcast in HD. Although Comcast hasn't started to send them down the line yet. But, not all broadcasting is done in 16x9. You could e-mail and ask the station why they aren't displaying HD in 16x9?

    What area of the country do you live?
     
  4. Barry Carlson

    Barry Carlson Auditioning

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    Thanks for the information, Darrel. I live in the SF Bay Area. Comcast just recently -- within the last 2 weeks -- upgraded the lines to handle HD; the installer mentioned that I was one of the first to get HD as he had had only one training class so far on how to install the boxes.

    I told him I didn't mind being a Guinea Pig!
     
  5. JamesHl

    JamesHl Supporting Actor

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    This happens with the regular channels I try to watch through component in, but ones that are actually HD seem to come through correctly.
     
  6. Cary P

    Cary P Stunt Coordinator

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    Barry,

    I also have the Sony KV-32HV600 and have noticed this window-box effect when regular 4:3 programming is transmitted over HD channels.

    If you tune into KNBC or KGO when they are actually broadcasting some HD content, you should see the regular 16:9 aspect ratio.

    I believe the Sony's (and perhaps all 4:3 HDTV's) are designed to automatically lock into 16:9 squeeze mode when fed 1080i content. So even though the broadcasters might only be sending regular 4:3 SD programming over their HD channel most of the time, the Sony will lock into 16:9 mode because the HD cable box is sending the output to your set in 1080i mode. Hope this makes sense.

    If your set-top box has adjustable picture output modes, you might try switching your cable box to output 480p, and then set the Sony to zoom mode when regular SD content is being broadcast over HD channels. That's what I've finally figured out will work with my Samsung SIR160 HD DirectV receiver in order to avoid this window-box effect.

    Only problem is, the switch on the Samsung is on the back of the box (DOH!), so it is a major PITA when one is channel surfing. On the other hand, COX cable in Las Vegas supplies a HD cable box with NO selectable output modes, so there is no work-around when watching SD content over a HD channel.

    If anyone else has a better solution to this problem, please chime in.

    Cary
     
  7. Stephen Tu

    Stephen Tu Screenwriter

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    What Cary said is the problem. Watching 4:3 upconverted to 1080i, forcing TV into 16:9 squeeze mode. The easiest workaround is to run an S-video or composite 480i connector to another input, to use when those stations aren't broadcasting true HD.
     
  8. Rob_V

    Rob_V Agent

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    Yeah, I get *almost* the same problem here in Canada with my Rogers HD cable.

    My set is 16x9 and locks into 16x9 mode when being fed 1080i content from the cable box, so I can't zoom when it's SD content and I get black bars on the left and right.

    Unfortunately, the HD channels will not display at less than 1080i, and the cable box does not have a switch for the output, so my solution is to switch to S-Video on my local ABC|NBC|CBS|Fox station rather than the HD channel. This works great for all prime-time programming, but outside of prime-time hours, when say, Fox Detroit is airing King of the Hill but Fox Buffalo is not, and I want to watch King of the Hill, I'm forced to watch it in 1080i, with the black bars at the sides.

    VERY irritating.

    My alternative is digital satellite, which, (the one provider I'm looking at) the box can switch between 720p and 1080i. Unfortunately though, my current set does not support 720p, so until I get a set that does, I'm stuck with this problem.
     
  9. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    The Toshiba H82 and HX82 series TV's allow you to use the Theater Wide 1,2,3 modes with 1080i content. This allows you to stretch and or zoom 1080i to handle the letterboxed or 4:3 content that is upconverted to HD on the HD stations. I never use these because each HD station has an analog counterpart on Comcast, except for PBSHD, which is always native HD, but they do work if you want to fill the screen. The true HD content always displays in Natural mode, which is 16:9.
     
  10. Tony Cicirello

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    Rob,

    How do you like the Rogers HD Cable overall?
     
  11. TrevorST

    TrevorST Stunt Coordinator

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    On the Motorola box that came from the cable co you can change the resolution for non HD programs. There is a setting that allows you to change the output from 1080i to 480i/480P when a non HD channel is selected. This will not help when an HD channel is broadcasting a 4:3 picture but it works great for all other channels. This is the main reason I switched from Sat to cable as my Panny 4:3 set locks into widescreen ona 1080I input. Now I can leave my setup on component and switch between HD and non-HD without changing settings.
     

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