Widescreen facts please read (information for those considering one)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by John-Miles, Jul 3, 2002.

  1. John-Miles

    John-Miles Screenwriter

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    ok I finally got off my lazy butt and crunched some numbers properly, I only did the calculations with respec to a 36" 4:3 ratio tv and 34" 16x9 tv.

    Basically I wanted to know which tv actually gives you the most viewing area, so i calculated the differences in viewing area and multiplied it by the percentage of time spent watching different formats.

    the shocking (at least to me) results were that comparing the two tv's you maximize your viewing area with a widescreen tv if and only if you spend 91.76% of your time watching widescren programing

    that is because in 4:3 mode the 36" tv has a whopping 68.7% more viewing area than the 34" tv thats approximately 622.25 square inches and 368.84 square inches of viewing area respectively

    in 16x9 mode the results favor the widescreen tv, but only by a small margin there being a 6.17% area difference or 493.63 square inches and 464.94 square inches.

    while at first glance this all seems hard to believe it is quite correct, since a diagonal measurement on two tv's whith different aspect ratios is inheriently misleading, the size difference is much more than 2"

    I hope these numbers help some people out there as i knwo this can be a very misleading topic (I dont know how many stores i ahve gone into where they tried to convince me that the widescreen is bigger and has more area....) the truth is in the numbers folks, I hope this helps.
     
  2. JodyB

    JodyB Auditioning

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    Why would anyone who owns a widescreen use 4 x 3 anyway? True you need a bigger widescreen than a 4 x 3, but I think most of us watch widescreen DVDs more than 9% of the time.
     
  3. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

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  4. John-Miles

    John-Miles Screenwriter

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    Jody, I think you misread my post, you would need to be watching dvd's and other widescreen formats over 91% of the time to make it worthwhile (ie maximizing the ammount of viewing area)

    I suppose I can only speak for myself, but IMHO stretch modes are just as bad if not worse than pan and scan, quite frankly it should be outlawed.

    for myself and i believe many other people out tv's are not just for dvd's but also for regular programming, video gaming and such.

    again i just posted this because i thought people might like to be more aware.

    Peter thanks for the link, the last time i used that page the calculations were off, but they seem to have been fixed.
     
  5. Michael Lomker

    Michael Lomker Stunt Coordinator

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    The website link was interesting. I don't buy your 91% figure, though. You're making that argument strictly on a percentage basis. 34" direct-view sets also cost $1k more than your typical 36" HDTV. Clearly, no one buys a 34" direct-view strictly based on the numbers.

    I receive a lot more enjoyment watching 16:9 programming in full screen than I do letterboxed on a 4:3 set. It's difficult to quantify something like "satisfaction."
     
  6. Dan Belina

    Dan Belina Agent

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    Yep...I took this into consideration when buying my TV. I watch DVD's, but not anywhere close to those percentages.

    Maybe 30% of the time I watch DVD's...the rest is cable programming or the occasional video game.

    I hated the way cable programming looked in stretch mode, so went with a 4:3 TV instead.
     
  7. Michael TLV

    Michael TLV THX Video Instructor/Calibrator

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    Greetings

    You could always get a 4:3 that does 16:9 squeeze so you have the functional equivalent of a 33" 16:9 image. And in Canada, there is little to no difference in price between a 34" 16:9 set and a 36" 4:3 HD set. Both can be found for $3000 at retail.

    One minor note ...

    A number of 34" 16:9 sized tubes suffer from non-linear geometry problems that cannot be fixed. Images on the left side of the screen are inherently wider than on the right side.

    Regards
     
  8. jeff lam

    jeff lam Screenwriter

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    If you have space issues (like me), where I can only fit up to 36" wide set in my space, the coice is simple. a 34" 16x9 set vs. a 32" 4x3. To maximize the viewing area I have to go with the 16x9. For my standards I watch about a DVD/day but watch about 2-3hours of 4x3 material but the quality I need for DVD far outweighs the quality requirements for my 4x3 material. Who cares if the evening news is stretched. All in all, DVD movies should be bigger than normal TV dang-it!!! That's just my POV.
     
  9. Damon B

    Damon B Auditioning

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    Your comparison is unfair. You should factor in price. Currently on Best Buy's website, you can purchase either a 48" 16:9 JVC HDTV or a 36" 4:3 Sony Wega HDTV for the same price. Punching a 48" 16:9 vs a 36" 4:3 into that website will show you the TRUE light of comparing. I realize that price may not be an issue, but if it is (and price usually is important), then going with a larger 16:9 RPTV is a better value.
     
  10. John-Miles

    John-Miles Screenwriter

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    Michael I get what your saying, but the numbers are somethign that matters to me, given the choice between a 34" widescreen and a 36" 4:3 tv i would perfer to get the one that has the larger viewing area for most of my viewing, thats why i provided those numbers for people who think the same way as me. for me a widescreen would only be worth it if all i did was watch dvd's or other widescreen programming 91% of the time.

    Damon, i think you are forgettign that you are comparing a direct view crt to a RPTV for the price of a 36" xbr you could get a much bigger RPTV
     
  11. Dave K

    Dave K Extra

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    I see your point, but I don't buy that this is a valid comparison either. You are comparing screen area (or diagonal measurments) on sets with two different aspect ratios, so you are really comparing apples and oranges. Of course a 16:9 TV will lose out every time, because the screen is really tiny with 4:3 material.

    I don't think anyone realistically chooses a TV based on screen area. Have you ever walked into a store and said, "Gee, that 533 sq. in. Toshiba looks better than that 492 sq. in. Sony?" I think not. When you think about it, most people choose it based on HEIGHT or WIDTH, even if they are not aware of it. You pick a "size" that looks good to you for the material and space considerations you are interested in. This "size" is typically one dimension or another, given the shape of the screen.

    So, try running the numbers against a measurement that's a constant: screen height or width; i.e., for a given height, calc the screen area for both aspect ratios and then compare. I think you'll get much different results.


    A 36" 4:3 TV will be about the same height as about a 50" 16:9 TV (I didn't do the math) with 4:3 material. You can buy a 36" 4:3 Sony XBR or a 47" 16:9 Toshiba/Panny for nearly the same price. Why anyone would buy a 4:3 TV anymore, other than physical space considerations or for simply disliking projection TVs, is beyond me. Oh, except perhaps for a 55"+ 4:3 that does vertical compression, that's the best of both worlds...
     
  12. Arthur S

    Arthur S Cinematographer

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    Dave

    >>I don't think realistically chooses a TV based on screen area.>You pick a "size" that looks good to you for the material and space considerations you are interested in.
     
  13. Dave K

    Dave K Extra

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    You missed my point. My point is that this percentage area is a totally meaningless yardstick. If you primarily watch 4:3 material, even to the point of watching more 16:9 than 4:3, you'll never justify a 16:9 set with this method of comparison. ...As evidenced in the original post.
    Does this actually make sense to you? That if you watch 50% or more widescreen material then you are still better off with a 4:3 TV? I'll answer that for you: NO!
    If you watched 50%/50%, then the measurement system should come out exactly even; i.e., you could pick 16:9 or 4:3 and be equally happy.
    The only way to do this is by selecting a measurement methodology that is consistent regardless of aspect ratios.
    >To me that is just another way of saying how much
    >screen area is will take to satisfy you
    I disagree. To me it says "how much screen HEIGHT will it take to satisfy you." Or, if you are space constrained, "how WIDE a TV will fit in my entertainment center and give me a picture that is TALL enough to see from across the room." This is why I specifically stated that most people choose based on height EVEN IF THEY ARE NOT AWARE OF IT. If you watch a lot of 4:3 on a 16:9 set, you are not going to like it much because the screen height is too small for most of your material. If you watch a lot of 16:9 on a 4:3 set, you're not going to like it much because, again, the screen height is too small.
    In your post you said you decided the RCA, with a 31" equivalent diagonal 4:3 screen, was too small based on your previous 35" model. What you really decided was that, based on your viewing habits, you were not willing to accept a screen that was SHORTER than the TV you had previously. You did not value screen area, you valued HEIGHT.
    So, if you disregard the aspect ratio, the only common factor is height. And if you still prefer the area yardstick and you run the numbers based on equal screen heights...I'll leave that up to you. [​IMG]
    Of course, it is a very common and age-old practice to adjust the yardstick to fit the desired outcome...
     
  14. Michael TLV

    Michael TLV THX Video Instructor/Calibrator

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    Greetings
    And in the end, you will buy it because it is either on sale ... or because you like the trim or colour. [​IMG]
    Regards
     
  15. Jan Strnad

    Jan Strnad Screenwriter

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    It doesn't matter how much you watch a given format. What matters is, what is your critical listening source?
    I mainly listen to NPR radio on my stereo, because it's on while I work at home. But when I want to listen to music, I want a good hi-fi stereo. And when I want to hear a 5.1 soundtrack on a movie, I want a good 5.1 receiver.
    So what should I get, a cheapie receiver that will do talk radio adequately, or a good 5.1 receiver for my most critical listening?
    When it comes to a TV, I want the best monitor for my most critical watching, which is DVDs of movies. I'll gladly accept a "lower-quality" picture for my non-critical viewing of, say, COPS or sitcoms, even if, in total, I watch more "crap" than quality DVDs of movies.
    J.
     
  16. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    What Jan said,

    I want the best presentation for dvd and HD, that means a 16/9 set Period.

    I don't watch that much regular tv anymore, but if I did I'd simply pick up a good cheap 27 inch analog set for it, and not waste a high quality monitor on sitcoms and reality show dreck.

    There are a few regular tv shows I still like to watch that aren't available in HD here in Fresburg yet. They get taped on SVHS and run on my bedroom KV25XBR.
     
  17. Michael St. Clair

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  18. BruceSpielbauer

    BruceSpielbauer Second Unit

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    I watched this thread with interest, waiting for someone to point out the obvious flaw in logic which led to the (rather humorous) "91%" figure.

    Jan finally spotted it, and stated it quite clearly. Thanks.

    My 16 X 9 65" Mits RPTV is MORE than adequate for displaying a great image when I am watching standard cable, satellite, and the ubiquitous dreck which passes for broadcast television. Of course, ANY set is more than adequate for this stuff. That stuff is television. I can watch it on my 27" in the bedroom, the kids' 21" and 19" tv sets, the 35" direct-view Mitsubishi in the upstairs playroom, or pick up a black and white portable for $59.99 at Walmart for that stuff, and I will typically be okay with it. On the 65" RPTV Mits, I occasionally actually watch some television in stretch modes, but that is not often. And, even without use of the stretch modes, I am guessing my image is approximately the same "square inches" (grin) as your image, if not more "square inches." (What was it about the argument over whether size does matter? Hmmm...)

    Then, five or six times a week, we want to watch a DVD. Or, we want to watch a film. A movie. A motion picture. Now, I want either an HDTV feed, via over the air, or satellite, or I want to pop in a DVD. This is different. This is not television. Now, I need to control the lighting, fire up the DTS, or at least 5.1, and lose myself in the director's work, without the smell of bad popcorn, without the gum-popping kid behind you. I want a progressive scan feed to the RPTV. Or, I want 1080i. I want a video display which is capable of producing the most demanding images, in an aspect ratio which the director intended. I don't want an epic film like Braveheart to seem intimate, and I don't want a claustrophobic film like Taxi Driver to seem "vast and expansive." I want my image to be close to the director's intent, so I can get lost in it. I don't want parts of the image cropped, so the artistic intent is changed, or (as in a few cases), the plot is even left garbled or altered. I want sound equipment which is CAPABLE of reproducing the most demanding sound design, even if it means 5.1 or 6.1, and DTS. If it demands rears, I want that. If it demands a subwoofer, I want that. On Citizen Kane, those rears will remain silent, and so will the subwoofer. Fine. However, when I pop in "Saving Private Ryan," I want the equipment to reproduce what Spielberg intended.

    The analogy regarding "talk radio" versus "a full musical composition" is quite accurate.

    That said, I have nothing against 4 X 3 televisions -- I have four of them. However, I would not think of watching an actual FILM on one, unless it was a 1:35:1 film -- and only then, on the 35" direct-view Mitsubishi. The other sets are televisions, for goodness sake. I mean, let's get realistic.

    Square inches, indeed.

    Grin.

    -Bruce
     
  19. John-Miles

    John-Miles Screenwriter

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    Bruce you make a very good point, i guess the biggest difference is what you buy your tv for. I am only speaking for myself here but if im going to spend 3000 dollars on a high quality tv then i would also like to get the biggest one i can (size isn't everything no, thats why im gettign a direct view instead of a a RPTV which would be cheaper and bigger) but since i am getting a direct view i could either get a 34" widescreen or a 36" 4:3 tv. so what exactly is the difference? they both cost the same, i would assume they both have comparable picture quality (althouygh i have heard things to suggest otherwise)

    so since I PERSONALLY (again only speaking for myself and i guess other people who think the same as me) the difference between the two is the size. no of course i could simply just look at which more i watch 51% of the time or more and take th eone that maximizes. or in my case i perfered to look at it fromt he point of view of which type of programming would cause me to get the most screen area most of the time. (thats where the 91% figure came from) more screen area equals a bigger picture. I would also like to note that screen height is the main variable as dave said, but either way you look at it it dosent matter, a higher tv will have more area, so there is not muchdifference in the way you look at it.

    I dont say this to offend anyone so I hope that hasent happened.

    but for me watching a dvd is not the only purpose of my tv, and i valuse playing games and watching drek like this hour has 22 minutes and the simpsons. but thats just me. so why by a 16x9 tv when it wil only be the bigger screen a small percentage of the time. a 4:3 tv will provide just as good a picture as the 16x9 so i just dont see the justification in getting a overall smaller tv for the same if not more money, the larger black bars are pretty much just an optical illusion making you think your getting less, but with most things when you knwo the difference its not a big deal.

    again i dont mean to upset anyone, i just cant avoid a good discussion
     
  20. ThomasL

    ThomasL Supporting Actor

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    John,

    I currently have a 27 inch Toshiba, and I've also concluded that if I were to upgrade to an HDTV-ready set, it makes more sense for me to buy a 32 inch 4:3 tv based on viewing habits and current prices. I have limited space for the tv - a hard limit of 36 inches width. This restricts me to 32 inch 4:3 sets and 30 inch 16x9 sets (possibly 34). When comparing 32 inch 4:3 vs. 30 inch 16x9, I'd choose the 32 inch everytime given our current viewing habits. As long as the 4:3 tv handles 480p and shows all the scan lines inside the 16x9 area (does the squeeze), then I wouldn't see the benefit of getting a 30 inch 16x9 set. But if I could get a 34 inch 16:9 HDTV-ready set for the same price as a 32 inch 4:3 equivalent and it fit into my space then I'd go with the 16x9 set given my room size, viewing distance, etc. It would mean having about the same size 4:3 set (28 inches) but I'd get about a 90 percent increase in viewing area for 16x9 dvds.

    cheers,


    --tom
     

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