How do you watch hd tv?

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Mike Coady, Sep 25, 2003.

  1. Mike Coady

    Mike Coady Agent

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    I bought a Zenith 420 and this being all new to me, the different viewing options are kind of confusing. If you have selected 1080i or 480p signal format and you try to change the aspect ratio and it won't let you, does this mean this is the correct display you should be watching that particular show in? Or does it mean it just won't let you change it and means nothing?

    If you are in 1080i, have bars on the side, and can't change the aspect ratio, does that mean you need to change to 480p it being a more preferable option to watch your show?

    Is there a general rule of thumb when to watch in 1080i and when to watch in 480p?


    When you can choose between wide, normal, and zoom what do most people use?


    I'm not too crazy about watching any shows with bars on the side or letterboxed because of possible burn-in, do most people feel this way? Or is this a preferred way many choose to watch their shows.

    Sorry for all the dumb questions (and I may have asked the same thing twice), but I'm trying to figure all of this out.

    Mike
     
  2. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Mike, I don’t know your equipment, but I have some comments and these apply to TV viewing, not DVDs.

    Many HDTVs lock into a display that cannot be changed when viewing a digital station. It appears as though yours is one. This is a function of your set, not the Zenith receiver (my Sony works the same way).

    If you are watching a program with side bars from a 1080i telecast, what you are seeing is exactly what is being telecast. The station is putting that 4:3 picture in a 16:9 frame and sending it out as a whole (the side bars are included in the picture being transmitted.) Often you see this in sports events when the picture cuts to an overhead shot from the blimp, for example. The on field cameras are showing a 16:9 HD picture and the one in the blimp is a 4:3 SD one. You will also see this when watching a show in HD, such as NYPD Blue when there is a commercial. The show itself is in 16:9, but the commercials are often in 4:3. In fact the opening credits in NYPD Blue are in 4:3 and it switches to 16:9 as soon as the credits are over (this is because the credits were shot before the show was in HD).

    When watching a 4:3 show in 1080i you have the exact same problem all the time. One option is switch to the same show on a non-HD channel and then you can stretch or zoom as much as you want. For example all of the networks will have the same show on both their standard and HD channels and you can just switch. This is what my wife often does with Letterman when we are going to sleep—watch the analog station and stretch or zoom.

    Another option is to tune in 480p and do what you want (although this does not work for me as my set still locks in 16:9 full). What I do in this case (if I want to change anything) is switch to 480i and zoom.

    But in practice I don’t really do these things, preferring to watch the shows without altering the picture. About all I stretch or zoom is some talking head shows or going to sleep.

    If you have not done so already, you might like to calibrate your set, using a disk like Video Essentials or AVIA. This will result in a picture that will not be as susceptible to burn-in as the settings used in showrooms. I watch a lot of classic movies (4:3) and have suffered no burn-in yet. Another thing that will help if it is available as an option, is to use gray bars (this for SD pictures) when possible. The gray will help even wear on all parts of your screen.

    Hope that this helps.
     
  3. Don_Berg

    Don_Berg Supporting Actor

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    All HDTV sets "lock" aspect ratio for HD programs (720p or 1080i format). Since HD channels always must broadcast the standard 16:9 frame, non-HD channels are window-boxed by many stations with the side black bars. I watch it that way, I don't change the format since stretching it won't work right for that anyway. Some STBs have a zoom mode that may be useful for that, but I don't mind the side bars - you can always switch to the analog channel if you don't like it that way, its not in HD anyway.
     
  4. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    Actually, it's primarily HDTV that are 16x9 in aspect ratio that lock down the input.

    Some 4:3 HDTVs allow you to choose to watch it in 4:3 or 16x9 mode for 1080i input. Mine does. So, if I wanted to, I could watch a HDTV show "vertically unsquashed" and then people would appear taller and skinnier, not unlike watching a 16x9 encoded DVD on a 4:3 TV set without the downconversion setting turned on.
     
  5. Mike Coady

    Mike Coady Agent

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    Thanks guys! I guess I forgot to mention I'm using a Toshiba 57HX81.

    I was trying to determine if everytime I was in 1080i signal format on my 420 and my aspect ratio was locked out, then it was indeed true HD. It sounds like that answer is yes.

    When I do have the option in 1080i to adjust ratio to Normal, Wide, or Zoom what is this telling me about the signal the station is sending?

    Sometimes the aspect ratio is locked in 480p mode and sometimes I have the option of Normal, Squeezed or Cropped, what is this telling me about the signal the station is sending?

    I had no idea watching in HD was this confusing. I assumed if you had a HDTV, and a HD Tuner everything you watched would be in 1080i filling the screen in it's natural aspect ratio.

    Mike
     
  6. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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  7. Mike Coady

    Mike Coady Agent

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    One last question, so do most of you leave your stb setting on 1080i and when not in true HD rely on the various aspect ratios to watch your shows? Or do you constantly switch back and forth between 1080i and 480p so you have more or better aspect ratio choices?
     
  8. Don_Berg

    Don_Berg Supporting Actor

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    I just leave it in 1080i mode always and watch any non-HD programs as the station formats it, usually as a window-box 4:3 within the 16:9 display. I use a widescreen Toshiba HDTV set. If I really need to adjust the aspect ratio for a non-HD show, I switch to the analog channel.
     
  9. Thomas Willard

    Thomas Willard Stunt Coordinator

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    I also have the Zenith HDV420. My experience is similar to what you have already read, that when the station is broadcasting in HD, your aspect button is locked out. I have two local stations that are broadcasting in digital, but merely simulcasting SD. With these stations I can use the aspect button and either go with standard aspect ratio, zoom or stretch. When watching a SD wide screen show, such as West Wing, I use the zoom setting and the picture fills the screen.

    I am feeding my tuner to a Panasonic front projector and find that the SD pictures are not really that bad, even on a large 68 inch wide screen. But HD is much better.

    One thing I have found is that when watching an SD signal is 4:3 mode, the picture does not seem 4:3 but rather almost square.

    I just keep my tuner output in 1080i. I feed the projector with component video cables and do not use the other types of outputs.

    I think the Zenith is a great OTA unit. Hope this helps.
     
  10. Mike Coady

    Mike Coady Agent

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    I will just leave my 420 on 1080i and watch it however it is presented. Thanks!
     
  11. Don_Berg

    Don_Berg Supporting Actor

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    West Wing is now in full HD for the new season!
     

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