Widescreen = Terrible TV?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Matthew_Judd, Feb 22, 2002.

  1. Matthew_Judd

    Matthew_Judd Extra

    Jul 14, 2001
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    I am just beginning to enter the HT market. I was at a friends house the other night and asked to watch his Sony HDTV. I watched the TV for a few minutes and eventually asked why the image looked absolutely God-awful terrible. I was told that it was because we were watching a widescreen TV.

    In order to avoid having a "burn-in" affect from watching TV all the time (since only the middle of the screen would be used, with black bars on the sides) they had set the TV to, I dunno, MORPH the image to fit the whole screen. It looked like something out of one of those mirrors in an amusement park.

    So anyway, my question is this. Those of you who have widescreen HDTV's, is it worth it?

    Should I instead be looking into purchasing an HDTV that is NOT widescreen?

    Are there any Widescreen HDTV's that don't suffer from this "burn-in" problem?

    Well, any info on this would be very welcome. I want a widescreen TV for movies and HD but not if I have to give up broadcast TV!
  2. Allan Jayne

    Allan Jayne Cinematographer

    Nov 1, 1998
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    All plasma and CRT TV sets are vulnerable to the burn in problem. If you keep teh contrast under a half for direct view and under a third for RPTV and FPTV you should not have problems with burn in.
    If you do not buy a wide screen TV, you will have the same burn in problem with the black bars on top and bottom of a 4:3 TV.
    Video hints:
  3. Jeff D.

    Jeff D. Supporting Actor

    Jul 10, 1999
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    To display a 4:3 image correctly on a 16:9 set, the 4:3 image is placed in the middle of the screen, with black (or gray) bars flanking the sides. This is the only way to preserve the OAR on a widescreen set.

    Now, HDTV is (by definition) 16:9, so no worries when you're watching HD. Also, the majority of movies on DVD (current movies, at least) are also widescreen, once again negating any worries about having to watch 4:3 material.

    The main problem arises with network television, which is usually 4:3. It is true that if you watch 4:3 on a 16:9 set for a prolonged period of time, those black or gray bars will burn in - and they will be visible no matter what you watch and the only repair option is to replace the CRTs (a procedure which will not be covered under warranty, incidentally).

    The easy solution is to use the TVs "stretch" modes to fill the screen. All the manufacturers have different types of "stretch" modes, and some are better than others. I can't speak for the Sony's, since I'm not familiar with them, but I do know that Toshiba has a very nice stretch mode. Their 'TheaterWide1' fills the screen by zooming in a small amount. Then, it stretches only the extreme right and left sides of the image out, to fill the screen properly. About 85-90% of the main image area is properly proportioned. Only the edges are distorted and this is usually only noticeable with horizontal pans. Also, the small amount of image you lose from the zoom can be seen by using their scroll feature (ie. to see a scoreboard or the like).

    It comes down to personal taste. If the majority of your viewing is widescreen (ie. HD or anamorphic DVD), you owe it to yourself to get a 16:9 set. Find one with good stretch modes for the odd 4:3 viewing. If your viewing is primarily 4:3, consider a 4:3 set with a vertical squeeze function to allow you to take advantage of the added resolution of anamorphic DVDs.

  4. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

    Apr 15, 1999
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    Different people have different reactions to the stretch modes. I don't find the variable stretch mode on my Sony to be objectionable for watching 4/3 tv on a casual basis, such as watching the morning news.
    For more critical stuff like CSI or ER, I use the straight zoom, which in the case of 4/3 cuts a bit off top and bottom but has no geometric distortion. Most current dramas and such are composed such that they look good this way, and some like ER and Enterprise are actually broadcast in letterbox, which makes zoom the best mode anyway.
    All my locals will be broadcasting digitally by the end of the year, and most of the shows I like will be in 16/9 HD.
    If your highest priority is 4/3 ntsc tv viewing, a 4/3 HD-ready set is the best choice.
    If your highest priority is dvd and HD, a 16/9 set is, imho, the way to go.
  5. Doug Pyle

    Doug Pyle Second Unit

    Nov 13, 1998
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    Middle of the Pacific
    Real Name:
    I don't want to stretch, crop, zoom or alter anything. It all bothers me. I find it odd that others think there are okay ways to alter the image - but then a few think I'm overly fussy. At least I'm consistent about OAR.

    Well, apart from simply owning 2 good TVs, one in 4:3 and the other widescreen, is there a direct or projected view widescreen solution out there to handle the various aspect ratios without the burn problem? What engineering would it require that is not normally in use now?

    I'm looking for a smaller, direct view widescreen for a particular room - about a 36" direct view. Any suggestions? I've considered a Sony (model ???) but I read a board dedicated to it that lists too many tweaking idiosyncracies, that it seems wise to wait a year for Sony to work out some bugs in the next model.
  6. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

    Feb 27, 2000
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    Actually, it's theoretically always wrong to alter the image, it's just that many of us don't care that much about it when watching something essentially disposable like the news or most tv series. It's just something you watch because it's there, so who cares if you stretch the image in order to preserve the set in good condition for the stuff you really care about?

    I'd never stretch or distort the image when watching a movie that was in 1.37:1, just as I'd never willingly buy a pan&scanned movie these days.

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