Help.... WS vs. 4:3

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by AllanY, Jan 29, 2003.

  1. AllanY

    AllanY Auditioning

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    I'm a newbie to setting up a home theater. I'm planning to buy a RPTV (around 50"). Btw, I'm located in Canada. I noticed all the shops are selling widescreen TV and HDTV now. The question is I'm not sure I should get a WS TV. I noticed the viewing screen will be smaller on a widescreen or stretched. Also, the salesman said in the future (in 5 yrs or so), many programming will be switch to HDTV format. Is that true? Would it be silly to get 4:3 HDTV now??? I'm very confused...

    Any comments/help are appreciated!!!

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Jan Strnad

    Jan Strnad Screenwriter

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    Allan,

    Widescreen is the shape of TV's future, 4:3 is the shape of TV's past. Unfortunately, we're in the transitional period where most of what is broadcast is still 4:3.

    If you like modern (post-1950) movies on DVD, you'll love widescreen as it minimizes the black bars or eliminates them completely. Yes, 4:3 TV is smaller, with bars on the sides, or you need to stretch it.

    Some companies have excellent stretch modes (Toshiba) and some have lousy stretch modes (Mitsubishi) but most have stretch modes that are at least "good." Stretch modes will become less and less of an issue as more broadcasting goes widescreen.

    A widescreen set will give you more value as the years pass and more material is broadcast widescreen, whereas a 4:3 set will be less satisfying with each passing year.

    You may be able to get a 4:3 set with a larger screen than a comparably-priced widescreen set. In this case, widescreen material may be larger or as large as widescreen material on the smaller widescreen set, though with bars top and bottom. Some people prefer this alternative.

    Personally, it just seems "wrong" to me when my sitcoms are larger than my movies. I prefer the black bars to be as small as possible or gone completely on widescreen movies. Finally, I think the widescreen sets simply look better.

    So, I'm a widescreen advocate.

    (Of course, if your prime viewing is 1940s-and-before movies or classic TV, and you don't care so much about what is broadcast in the future, you'll want a 4:3 screen.)

    Jan
     
  3. John-Miles

    John-Miles Screenwriter

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    Well it seem you beat me to this thread Jan [​IMG]

    Funny how every time this topic comes up there is Jan and I standing on our soap boxes advocating WS or 4:3.

    Well here is my stance. right now if you watch a mix of programming your best bet is a 4:3 HDTV. If however you are buying the tv to watch movies on, then yes I agree with jan you should get a WS.

    But here is the kicker, many people like myself use their tv's to enjoy Television programming, MOvies and video games. and for me all three are equally important. Right now some shows are WS some are not, a few video games are WS MOST are not. Almost all movies are WS (well all recent ones at least.) So based on that criteria you know you will ahve to live with bars of some sort if you watch a mix of programming, unless you are willing to stretch a movie or program.

    So really its a nice toss up, but the thing that decided it for me was the simple cost factor. generally speaking whatever you pay for WS tv you can spend the same and get a 4:3 tv that will deliver approximately (5% or so) the same size WS picture, but will give you alot more (50% or more) screen area for unstretched 4:3 programming.

    So for me it came down to this i had 3000 canadian to spend and i wanted a Direct view set, so i could get a 36" 4:3 or a 34" WS. either way I would NOT stretch any of the material to be displayed, so black bars are a fact of life with either choice. so i could get a tv that had the novelty of beign WS but gave em a smaller 4:3 picture, or i could get an "outdated" 4:3 tv which gave em the same size picture for movies and gave me a whole lot more for everythign else. Seemed liek a no brainer to me.

    Of course if i could ahve gotten a 38" direct view for the same price as a 36" 4:3 or if the 34" WS had cost the same as a 32" 4:3 then i would ahve bought a WS tv.

    My point is iw atch everything, and i want to stretch nothing. so black bars are a fact of life. givent hat i want to get the most for my money, and right now WS are priced too high for the screen size.
     
  4. AllanY

    AllanY Auditioning

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    Thanks guys for the input.. very insightful!! [​IMG]

    actually, my family watch 70% TV via cableTV and 20% movies on VCD, DVD & VHS, 10% using it for video games (PS2). I guess I'm leaning toward 4:3 HDTV... hmm..
     
  5. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    Don't feel bad, I also bought a 4:3 HDTV RPTV last month. And it's because I do watch a lot of TV programming. I have no illusions of using this 4:3 TV past 5 years as my primary TV.
     
  6. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    One other thing I feel that favors the 4x3 sets, especially for RPTVs, is the burn-in factor IF you will not stretch your 4x3 viewing on a 16x9 TV. Any burn-in from black bars on a 4x3 TV will mostly affect the portion of the screen that won't matter as much when everything goes widescreen. Also, since the large majority of your viewing will be 4x3 in the immediate future, there will be less viewing that involves black (or grey) bars ergo less burn-in risk for now.

    Another thing is that non-anamorphic letterboxed movies will look better on a 4x3 TV since extra processing will not be needed to avoid the window-boxed effect on 16x9 TVs. So if you have tons of those, then that's one more thing to consider.

    OTOH, anamorphic movies might look a little worse on a 4x3 TV since doing 16x9 squeeze probably complicates issues like convergence and geometry.

    FWIW, I almost bought a 50" 4x3 RPTV also, but changed my mind to go 16x9 because my priority is OAR widescreen movies, not 4x3 regular TV viewing. Also, I decided I could stick w/ the old 32" 4x3 for regular TV viewing, especially since poor quality sources blown up to 50" just won't look good anyway. I do own lots of non-anamorphic letterboxed movies, but I think I can live w/ that issue also.

    _Man_
     
  7. Michael Mathius

    Michael Mathius Supporting Actor

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    I remember this debate from three years ago when I was looking for my first rptv. At that time I choosed the 4:3 over the 16:9 and got a Sony Kp53hs10.

    Unfortunately, once you start spending time on this forum you get into the urge of watching more dvds and hdtv than regular tv. So a few months ago it took the dive and got a 16:9 Sony front projectors.

    I still watch my 4:3 set but since it got the fp it's been seeing less and less action.

    You must ask yourself how soon are you willing to upgrade that tv if you get a 4:3 now. Spending $1500 to $3000 now and in the near future is now all that appealing to many people.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Michael
     
  8. SteveK

    SteveK Supporting Actor

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    I think the best option is a 4:3 set with a 16:9 squeeze mode readily available. That's what I got with my Sony 32" Wega I bought about a year ago. You get true 4:3 without stretching, and you get the benefit of anamorphic DVDs by being able to "squeeze" the image to a true 16:9. I've automated the procedure by creating a macro on my remote control, so all it takes is pushing one button to go from the default 4:3 to the squeezed 16:9.

    Good luck!
    Steve K.
     
  9. Jan Strnad

    Jan Strnad Screenwriter

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    Yep, good arguments all, if black bars are of no consequence to you. After 1-1-06, with a 4:3 set, you'll be seeing lots of them...on broadcast TV, on widescreen DVD, on videogames as they, too, "go wide."

    Personally, the most important thing to me is the quality of presentation on DVD movies, most of which (for me) are widescreen. Black bars are distracting, enough that many people cut mattes to cover them up. (I've done this on my 35" 4:3 TV and it does make a difference, silly as it may sound.)

    I'll make all sorts of compromises when I watch broadcast TV...stretching, side bars...but DVD movies are the most critical watching I do, so I optimized my TV for them. Think about what's most important to you, not merely what you watch the most!

    Also, I find the basic screen shape of 16:9, being closer to the Golden Rectange, more pleasing, especially when it's off. I have a small living room and a 4:3 RPTV is just a lot uglier, IMHO, no offense intended to 4:3 RPTV owners.

    John-Miles: I'll let you start off the next widescreen vs. 4:3 debate! [​IMG]

    Jan
     
  10. TommyLov

    TommyLov Auditioning

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    I went through this same debate a year and half ago when I bought my first projection television. I ended up buying a 55" 4:3. And the reason was really pretty simple: I have grown up with black bars on movies, so the black bars on top and bottom are not distracting in the least and seem completely "natural". But black bars on the sides (or stretching 4:3 programming), well, that doesn't seem normal to me...
     
  11. John-Miles

    John-Miles Screenwriter

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    Jan I do ahve to point out that when i watch movies, my room is dark enough that i cant even see my tv unless i really strain, all i can see is the picture, I cant see the black bars or the tv itself cause it all fades into the dark background

    so for me it makes no difference if my tv is widescreen or not when watching movies.

    But then ive always been obsessive about light control, when i was a kid id go to bed and put a pair of jeans on the floor by the door to block the little crack of light from the hall.....
     
  12. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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  13. John-Miles

    John-Miles Screenwriter

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    I dont know, maybe it is bad... but its not much darker than a movie theater, and i enjoy it [​IMG]

    but thnks for your concern Man see and who says the HTF isn't one big family [​IMG]
     
  14. Jan Strnad

    Jan Strnad Screenwriter

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    John,

    Man is right when he says that watching TV in a totally dark room is bad for your eyes. You're most likely to notice it as eye strain, though, and not some subtle degradation of your vision, so you be the judge.

    I have an $8 GE fluorescent fixture behind my set and find it easier to watch now, though I'd been watching TV in the dark for years. Could be a real effect, could be psychological, I don't know.

    The difference between watching TV in the dark and watching a movie is that the TV screen doesn't fill your field of vision. Unless you sit real close! [​IMG]

    Man: right-on about the date. Thanks for the correction. But, by April '05, all analog broadcasting is supposed to be simulcast digitally, which means it'll be possible to fill your wide screen by then. If you have a 4:3 screen, you'll have another year and a half to fill your screen with the analog picture before digital becomes mandatory. (That's how I read the regs...always open to correction!)

    Jan
     
  15. John-Miles

    John-Miles Screenwriter

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    Well that is a point well taken Man, Jan... hmm kinda rhymes. I guess i will have to be more careful until i can get some ambient lighting put in. on the upside for my eyes, its only when im watching movies tat i keep it completly dark, which is only one or two a week at most (gotta love school and work [​IMG]
     
  16. Michael St. Clair

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    Mattes can take care of black bars without the need to watch in a pitch-black room.
     
  17. Kevin. W

    Kevin. W Screenwriter

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    I just recently purchased a Panny 47 WS and honestly speaking I don't notice the black bars during movies and stretching of 4:3 material is irrelevant to me. If your spending $1500 to $3000 now, do you want to be spending the same amount 3-4yrs from now for that WS you should have bought in the first place?

    Kevin
     
  18. John-Miles

    John-Miles Screenwriter

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    But thats just it Kevin for many of us a WS is not the right choice, now or in 5 years. I personally would much rather have black bars than stretch my picture.

    and even if in 5 years everything is WS well im still not losing out because i ahve seeientially the same size WS picture as i would if i had spent the same money on a WS tv. and so what if those bars burn into the tv if all the material at that point is WS.

    It really only comes down to astetics, and As Jan has said many times in the past that is important to him. And other people get fixated on the black bars. personally neither of those arguments mean anything to ME, and I cant imagine that I am the only one.

    So it just seems a little unfair to say that you should ahve bought a WS. there really is no correct answer.
     
  19. Reginald Trent

    Reginald Trent Screenwriter

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    With all due respect, I believe it is more natural for black bars to appear on the top and bottom than on the sides. Therefore, in my opinion a 4:3 capable of 16:9 squeeze mode is more versatile than a WS reproducing 4:3 in stretch mode.

    BTW Widescreens are not immune from black bars. 2.35 and wider will produce horizontal bars on both 4:3 and WS sets.
     
  20. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    I recently bought my 4:3 HDTV because I have no illusions on keeping it for more than 5 years, and by then, I am hoping the prices for 16x9 RPTVs will drop even more as HDTV becomes more mainstream, and replacing it later will be a smaller expense than it would today.

    Personally, I would not stretch 4:3 content when viewed on a 16x9 set, I view in OAR because I don't enjoy watching distorted video presentation. And since we were basically all raised on seeing black bars on the top and bottom of the screen for 1.85 and 2.35 AR films, it's "normal" to me, and I dislike seeing side bars on 4:3 material on 16x9 even more.

    For now, there's still plenty of 4:3 material on TV for me not to regret the 4:3 HDTV RPTV purchase.
     

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