UK Vs USA on the WS Vs P&S situation, WS wins hands down in the UK!

Johnny G

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I run a company which deals with DVDs mainly to the UK public so I can comment on the situation with authority.

My customers aren't HT enthusiasts, they're just general DVD buyers but with multi region players.

Anyway, I can tell you that when there are both versions available (as there have been a lot recently such as Ocean's 11, Spy Game, A.I. etc), the WS outsells the P&S by at least 20 to 1.

The main reason, I think, why Brit Joe 6 pack chooses WS, isn't because they're better educated on OAR, but because we've had WS TVs for years and anyone serious enough to buy a DVD player, also bought a nice new TV to go with it, especially those that opt for Reg 1 as they need NTSC compatibility.

You'd be hard pushed to go & find a 4:3 TV, most new TV sales have been for WS sets since the end of the last century.
 

PhilipG

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Johnny G (hey, nice initial
) is absolutely right. 4:3 pan/scam will never be a serious threat over here. Remember the UK is the only place in the world with a 16x9 Angel season 2 boxset (which, by the way, looks fantastic in widescreen). 4:3 TVs are pretty much gone.
I'm only slightly worried about 1.77:1 pan/scam versions of scope material (which we get on TV a lot).
As for Sleeping Beauty, Disney is a little crazy, didn't you hear? And most of us in-the-know will get the R1 version anyway - it's no big deal.
 

Dan Brecher

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I don't consider it a matter fo them being better educated really. Fact is, 16:9 tabletop sets (21", 28", 32"...etc) are popular here and across Europe. They are seen as the thing to have, and they are now incredibly cheap to purchase.

Mr and Mrs Smith go down to Comet, they'll be told digital tv is the way of the future in the UK, they'll buy into that, and they'll accept that a 16:9 set is the way to go given that a good percentage of digital tv transmission here are either true anamorphic, or scaled anrmoprhic broadcasts. Many people will still think their 16:9 TVs get rid of the "black bars," which just isnt the case. They may hit the evil zoom button.

There is still fear of black bars even with the mass of widescreen sets on the market here. There's fear from the consumer and even TV channels, this is why BBC and Channel 4 are still too gutless to show anything above 1.85:1 in it's proper ratio primetime,. They insist on cropping it down to 1.78:1. Channel 4 even crop Smallville back to full frame now, it was 1.78:1 and you can see by watching the terrestrial trasmitions it is still this ratio but they have phased our the bars.

I envy the US more for their larger rear projection HDTV sets which will never see the light of day here.

Dan
 

Greg O' Connel

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My question is this: Why don't manufacturers make the smaller, more affordable 16:9 sets available in the US? The first time I saw a widescreen TV set of any size in a store was in London, and I was suprised to see them in all sizes, not just the 50" or 60", $2500 monsters that were being advertised in the US. That was over 2 years ago, and the choices American consumers have in WS TVs doesn't seem to have improved any.
One more important question: Since the UK uses the metric system, why are television screen sizes still measured in inches?
 

Michael St. Clair

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How do they broadcast 'Citizen Kane' or 'The Wizard of Oz', (or for that matter, old Monty Python, Benny Hill...) or other native 4:3 material in the UK?

And how do people typically watch it on a 16:9 set?
 

PhilipG

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How do they broadcast 'Citizen Kane' or 'The Wizard of Oz', (or for that matter, old Monty Python, Benny Hill...) or other native 4:3 material in the UK?
All fully 4:3 material is transmitted as such. I don't know of any widescreen pan/scanning except in some documentaries/news reports where archival footage is shown alongside the regular anamorphic w/s material. Sometimes 4:3 footage is windowboxed instead.
 

Dan Brecher

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Michael, on 16:9 TVs most people let the TV stretch 4:3 material to fill the screen. This is further back up to the fact people still dont want bars of any kind where possible, even if it means distrorting the 4:3 image somewhat.

BBC windowbox some stuff some times. I have seen Rugrats windowboxed for instance.

Dan
 

andrew markworthy

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A lot of WS sets automatically stretch 4:3 programmes unless you manually correct it (I know mine does). I imagine that J6P doesn't notice this.

The metric system has never really taken hold of the Brit imagination (except in scientific measurements, because:

(a) it's French

(b) it isn't based on anything intuitively obvious (the metric system is based on a measure of the Earth's circumferance, and they got *that* wrong), whereas the Imperial system has some intuitive logic - a foot is roughly the length of an average foot, etc.

(c) simple force of habit means we think of things in Imperial units. Even kids (who are taught the metric system as the sole unit of measurement in schools) tend to use Imperial as well.

(d) it's French
 

Iain Jackson

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a foot is roughly the length of an average foot, etc.
Wow, a lot of people must have really big feet!

I have to say I hate imperial (although I still tend to think in miles rather than kilometres). The relationship between the different units doesn't follow any pattern, whereas the metric system is all in powers of ten.
And so that I'm staying on topic, I usually stretch a 4:3 image on my widescreen tv to fill the entire screen - it has an adjustment feature so the stretch is less noticeable. I probably wouldn't stretch any films whose OAR were 4:3, but otherwise I'd rather get rid of the bars down the sides - bars across the top and bottom are fine, but bars on the side are a lot uglier...
 

Michael St. Clair

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I was just curious what people did with such images on your side of the pond. If your average (non home theater buff) user) is still typically watches 4:3 films (I'll leave television out of the argument) stretched to 16:9, and still doesn't like black bars on their 'scope films, then it confirms what some of us have been trying to tell other americans; that 16:9 screens won't turn the general population into OAR-lovers.
 

John J Nelson

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IMHO, the main factor driving widescreen TV sales in the UK is the wide availability of digital TV, which broadcasts in widescreen virtually all the time on the four main channels (Channel 5 is about 50/50).
The chances are that anyone watching a film broadcast on one of these channels is viewing a 16:9 anamorphic picture (the main channels do crop 2.35:1 down to 16:9 unfortunately
). However, some films are still shown in 4:3, and it would be fair to say that the majority of people would use the smart zoom mode to stretch the image to fill their screen.
I think that the broad uptake of widescreen/digital TV in the UK has got the public used to the whole concept of widescreen. Certainly widescreen DVDs appear to be accepted as standard in the UK, far more so than in the US. Electronics stores routinely push DVD as a 'widescreen' medium, and will be only too happy to sell you a lovely new WS TV to go with your player

-- J.
 

StephenA

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That's it, I'm moving to the UK. Since widescreen won big time there, I'll be happy to see less pan and scan DVDs. I'll just move to where my grandfather came from. I'll just have to buy a widescreen HDTV, and I'll be all set.
 

John J Nelson

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Cool! Move from New Hampshire USA to Hampshire UK, where I live

I should mention that we don't have HDTV in the UK. Digital TV uses the same PAL standard that has been used here since the late 1960's.
Widescreen transmissions carry a flag that causes the set-top decoder to switch the TV into 16:9 mode. I leave mine set to 4:3 all the time - it's cool when it automatically goes into wide mode, like watching the curtains pull back on a movie screen

-- J.
 

StephenA

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Ok, thanks for the TV info. My grandfather was from Barnsley, England. Don't know exactly where or anything, because he died in 1957, 22 years before I was born.
 

ChristopherM

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A lot of people I know watch 4:3 programmes stretched to 16:9 on their widescreen TVs. I think it looks horrible, but they think it looks better!

Example: Last Christmas, at my parents' house, my brother-in-law was watching a 1.85:1 non-anamorphic letterboxed documentary (on a Sky channel) stretched to a distorted 2.35:1 ratio (ie the black bars remained and people appeared short and fat).

I switched the TV to a non-anamorphic cropped letterbox mode to display the picture correctly on the widescreen TV and left the house to go for a walk with my neices.

When I returned, my sister was watching an anamorphic 1.85:1 transmission of "Jumanji" in the non-anamorphic cropped mode that I had left on the TV. The picture was therefore distorted (people were now tall & thin) and she was missing picture info at the top and bottom of the screen.

When I corrected the picture she told me "people don't notice things like that if they're enjoying the programme".

Just for the record, my sister is not a J6P, but a very capable amateur photographer who displays an excellent eye for colour balance when she prints her pictures. How someone like that can ignore poor composition and distortion is beyond me.

By the way, the flags that are supposed to reset widescreen TVs often seem to disappear when the signal is passed through VCRs and/or home cinema amps.
 

andrew markworthy

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Some people don't notice quite considerable distortions of picture. There's a long-winded explanation for this, but it comes down to a general phenomenon called perceptual constancy. E.g. if you see a coin, you perceive it as a circle even if you see it at an angle, when the shape it is making on your retina is an elipse. Similarly, when you see someone walk away from you, you don't perceive them as shrinking, even though the retinal image is decreasing the further away from you they are. Thus, the brain often automaticlly compensates for distortions to create a believable perception. Thus, Christopher, you sister is quite right in her statement.
 

Will_B

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My question is this: Why don't manufacturers make the smaller, more affordable 16:9 sets available in the US?
I saw that in the UK there was a 16:9 set from ...I want to say Sharp, but honestly I don't recall the company. Anyway, I noticed that it was very inexpensive, and it also was NTSC compatible! If it weren't for the shipping, I'd have bought it.

But I'm in the US, so I contact the U.S. half of the company, and say to them "come on, why don't you ship a load of those over here? That model is already NTSC compatible, there's no reason not to - they're so cheap, you'd undercut everybody else and sell a bunch of them!"

And they wrote back to say they (the American half of the company) had never heard of that set, and there were no plans to produce any 16:9 tvs this year at all.

They hadn't a clue about how popular 16:9 sets were in the UK. Not the faintest idea.

My guess is the manufacturers just want to sell really expensive sets to rich people for awhile, then when those suckers are done, they'll introduce the ones that are reasonably priced.
 

Glenn Overholt

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This is where the 'right foot doesn't know what the left foot is doing'!

I think Sharp is from Japan, and if you can dig up their main page and write them, I'd like to read that response.

Glenn
 

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