Widescreen TVs - the state of things

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Greg Hux, Mar 5, 2002.

  1. Greg Hux

    Greg Hux Auditioning

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    I'm an Aussie thinking of upgrading to a widescreen TV and know that we tend to follow US trends (I lived in the US '89 to '91). Widescreen TV and digital TV is in its infancy here, so I was wondering what those trends have been over the last few years.

    Here's a few questions that come to mind:

    Are digital TV transmissions widespread?

    Are digital TV's available at a reasonable price or are 'set top' converters still the norm?

    Are the non-cable networks transmitting in High Definition digital, or just some of the time?

    Have widescreen TVs dropped dramatically in price over the last couple of years and is this trend continuing?

    What would you expect to pay for widescreen TVs (say 76cm (30") and up)?

    What about the popularity of Plasma and other technologies?

    What are the good brands and those to avoid?

    Thanks

    Greg
     
  2. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Welcome to HTF, Greg!
    I'm moving this to the Display Devices section, where I think you stand a better chance of getting the answers you're looking for.
    M.
     
  3. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    I'll take a shot at answering your questions:
    Are digital TV transmissions widespread?
    =======================================
    Most large cities already have digital transmission of the 3 major networks, but most cable systems don't carry HD. Since most people in large markets get their tv from cable, penetration in large markets still isn't very good. Many people are having to get an antenna to get HD broadcasts, which is a sorta foreign and mysterious concept to many.
    Smaller markets are all supposed to be up and running digital broadcasting by this May, but they can file for delays and probably will.
    ======================================
    Are digital TV's available at a reasonable price or are 'set top' converters still the norm?
    ======================================
    While sets capable of displaying HD are getting more and more common,
    TVs with built-in digital tuning capability are somewhat rare and are disproportionately more expensive than those that are "HD-Ready."
    STBs are still very much the norm. Large areas of the country don't have local digital broadcasts yet, nor are there many cable systems carrying HD cable channels like HBO or Showtime. In these areas the only HD channels available are off DirecTV (2 channels in HD) and Dishnetwork (2 channels + CBS if you can get a waiver from your local CBS affiliate station). Many people are buying widescreen HD capable sets only to watch progressive scan anamorphic dvd. For these folks, the extra cost of a set with digital tuning built in is not justified.
    ===================================
    Are the non-cable networks transmitting in High Definition digital, or just some of the time?
    ======================================
    CBS is broadcasting almost all primetime programming in HD, but not daytime programming. ABC broadcasts most sitcoms, dramas, and movies in HD during primetime, but not newsmagazine or "reality" shows. NBC only broadcasts one drama show a week in HD, plus The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, a latenight talk show shown every night. Fox isn't doing any true HD, just 480p in widescreen. With very few exceptions, HD is broadcast only in prime time and even then not all shows are in HD. PBS has some of the best HD programming available.
    ======================================
    Have widescreen TVs dropped dramatically in price over the last couple of years and is this trend continuing?
    ========================================
    Yes, but mostly in the case of largish rptvs. Sets around 50-57" have dropped from the $4k range to around $2500. One can get a 47" for $1995, and there are 42 and 43 inch models in the same price range. The few direct-view widescreen models haven't dropped in price the way the rptvs have.
    =====================================
    What would you expect to pay for widescreen TVs (say 76cm (30") and up)?
    What about the popularity of Plasma and other technologies?
    ======================================
    RCA markets a 38" direct view with built in DirecTV/terrestrial digital tuner for $2500, but it's had reliability issues.
    Direct View widescreen sets are actually sorta rare over here, but are available from about $2200 for a 30" Philips up to $3k or so for a 34" Sony and over $5k for a 38" Loewe. Most folks over here prefer the larger size and better screen size/price ratio of the larger rptv models.
    A 42" Plasma set runs upwards of $7k, about double what a good 65" crt based rptv costs. Plasma sets still aren't thought to do blacks very well, sell mainly to wealthy folks who aren't too concerned with the absolute best picture quality.
    There are a few LCD and DLP based rptv models available, but at very high prices compared to crt based models.
    Much more popular for Direct View is a large 4/3 (32-36") that will do a raster squeeze for 16/9 material. These are generally much cheaper, starting at about $1500.
    ======================================
    What are the good brands and those to avoid?
    =====================================
    Good: Sony, Toshiba, Mitsubishi, Hitachi.
    Not so highly regarded: Samsung, Daewoo, most other Korean or Chinese bargain brands, RCA (Thomson).
    Philips has a few fans, but they aren't really a big seller compared to Sony, Tosh, etc.
     
  4. Greg Hux

    Greg Hux Auditioning

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    Thanks Steve, thats really helpful. But at the risk of sounding stupid, can you clarify the following for me?

    DirectTV?

    rptv?

    Direct View?

    Greg
     
  5. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    DirectTV- A US based Satellite system for TV broadcasts and cable TV.

    rptv- Rear Projection TV, most stand alone sets 40" and up are rear projection.

    Direct View- A standard tube television
     
  6. dcaconnolly

    dcaconnolly Extra

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    Greg,

    It's interesting that in the UK almost every set on sale is now widescreen, since the broadcasters started transmitting that a year or two ago. Here in HK we had a few widescreen sets on sale a few years ago but they have disappeared because we have no widescreen broadcasts. So now the options for widescreen are the plasmas, projectors or a big 4x3 set of 36" or more with black bars at top and bottom of the picture.

    So if the broadcasters plan widescreen in Oz (I don't think it's there yet) you can expect to see plenty of widescreen sets on sale. Otherwise, not.

    For myself I have the old Sony 32" widescreen direct view in the bedroom, and a Fujitsu plasma 42" in the lounge - which puts me in Steve's category of too much money and lousy pictures, I suppose. In the UK I have a widescreen Sony 28" Wega for digital terrestrial broadcasts which are great, but in HK the broadcasts in English drive us to DVD, which demands widescreen and surround sound.

    So it really depends on how hooked you are on DVD, but if you are then widescreen is a must, as is surround sound. It's not just me, this statement is spouse approved! (And the plasma made lounge space for another sofa - smart buy!)
     
  7. Andrew Beck

    Andrew Beck Stunt Coordinator

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    Also remeber that if most of your viewing will be done in 4:3, you can buy a larger 4:3 set that has the same size picture as a a 16:9 set. For example a 47" 4:3 RPTV is about the same price as a 43" 16:9 RPTV... the 47" TV's image when in 16:9 mode is the same as the 43" 16:9 TV. The only difference is the black bars, which dissapear when you turn out the lights. Plus if more of you viewing is 4:3, you get more screen with the larger 4:3 TV.
     
  8. Dylan Savage

    Dylan Savage Stunt Coordinator

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    I just thought I'd debunk the "4:3 is cheaper for a bigger screen" rumor thats been going around. I spent a few minutes and found some examples on yahoo shopping of models that are very closely related in features besides for being 16:9 or 4:3. Here's what I came up with.
    Mitsubishi 65" - 16:9 $3645 - 4:3 $3699
    Panasonic 51" 4:3 - $1471 Panasonic 47" 16:9 $1451
    RCA 61" 4:3/16:9 same price $2548
    Samsung 61" 4:3 $2449 16:9 $2479
    Sony 53" 4:3 - $2195 16:9 $2195
    Toshiba 61" 4:3 $2158 56" 16:9 $1949
    I think you can see that it's not a clear-cut issue, that some 4:3 models are slightly more expensive even for the same diagonal size screen, which means the 16:9 screen will seem ALOT larger for DVD's and HD material. Some 4:3 models are about the same price for a slightly larger screen, but in no cases were the 4:3 TV's cheaper for a larger screen.
    This being the home theater forum and not the broadcast NSTC forum, I'd think most readers priorities are in DVD's and HD material. Stop with the 4:3 propaganda, you're just confusing the issue!
     
  9. Andrew Beck

    Andrew Beck Stunt Coordinator

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    Toshiba 61" 4:3 $2158 56" 16:9 $1949
    Panasonic 51" 4:3 - $1471 Panasonic 47" 16:9 $1451
    These two TV's show my point... a 51" TV in 16:9 mode shows the same picture as the 47" 16:9. Same for the 61" vs. 56".
    Although it is nice to see the prices are getting better. I still contend that if you watch mostly TV, like most of do. a 4:3 set is better right now... now if you're watching mainly anamorphic DVD's by all means the a widescreen set is better. For myself though given the prices in the size I would purchase, 4:3 makes much more sense... because most of my TV is stuff in 4:3... food network, tlc, sports on espn and fox sports net.
     
  10. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    dcaconnoly,
    My comments on Plasma sets were probably a bit harsh. The ones I've actually seen in stores looked just fine to me.
    I made the mistake of repeating opinions I've read from others, mainly purists with "golden eyes".
    Plasma sets do have advantages--space saving, no color shift due to side by side placement of crts as in rptvs, no convergence issues, and that extreme "coolness" factor which is not to be laughed at. For folks with space limitations and generous budgets, they make perfect sense.
    They've dropped in price by half in recent years, and picture quality is improving with each new generation.
     
  11. Mike I

    Mike I Supporting Actor

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    How can you say 4.3 is better living in a city like dallas with so much 16.9 HD available...In a few years that is primarly all you will see is 16.9 whether is is HD or 480p...Virtually all shows produced in the last few years have been shoot 16.9 and framed for 4.3...
     
  12. Andrew Beck

    Andrew Beck Stunt Coordinator

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    Really, for some reason I don't see FoodTV, ESPN, Fox Sports Net, K-Star (shows the local mavericks games) MTV2, Comedy Central, and the Cartoon Network, being in widescreen anytime soon. The Digital cable here doesn't have the bandwith to transmit many channels in HD, and we all know about DirecTV and DISH's bandwith problems,
    The only things that are going to be totally widescreen in the next few years are the networks, and sports on the networks. Neither of which makes up a good percentage of what I watch.
    For some people widescreen might be the way to go. But for me 95% of what I watch is in 4:3 and will remain that way for quite some time. Now if I was a big fan of network sitcoms, only watched CBS, FOX, and ABC sports on the weekends (that's the only time they show it), and watched only anamorphic DVD's; widescreen would be perfect. However I don't, and I don't want to stretch things, can you imagine watching Dr. Strangelove or A Clockwork Orange stretched? If a 47" 4:3 TV and a 43" 16:9 TV are the same price then obviously for me the 47" TV would make more sense, because it's picture in 16:9 mode is the same size as the 43" picture; but the 16:9 TV in 4:3 mode has a picture much smaller than the 47" TV. Of course th 47" TV has black bars when in 16:9 mode and i guess some people don't like those; but to me bars are irrelevant and it's all about picture size.
     
  13. Arthur S

    Arthur S Cinematographer

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    Andrew
    I'm with you on this one. It's going to take years before the majority of feeds are HD. In the mean time the $2,500 Hitachi 53UDX10B 4:3 exelled in pictue qualiy with standard definition material. The only 16:9 RPTV that could match the picture quality with standard definition material is the $3,500 Pioneer 533. Easy choice for me.
     
  14. Rod Melotte

    Rod Melotte Stunt Coordinator

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    WOW - I'm in Andrew's and Arthers corner on this one. I'm glad this way of thinking is not me alone.
     
  15. Victor Y

    Victor Y Agent

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    You really don't need the widescreen TV if only 5-10% of what you watch is DVD, HD programs. You probably don't need to spend the extra money & time to buy and figure out all the digital TV equipments. I go with widescreen because the WS DVD and HDTV is so unreal.
     
  16. Bruce White

    Bruce White Stunt Coordinator

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    Regarding the 4:3 vs 16:9.

    I've been under the impression that viewing with black bars was bad for the TV--that it would cause burn-in, a bad thing.

    I don't yet own a RPTV, but hope to be purchasing one within a few months.

    From reading this forum and other home theater related forums, I've been under the distinct impression that if you have a 4:3 RPTV, you don't want to watch 16:9 images a lot with black bars on top and bottom because you'll get burn-in.

    On the other hand, if you have a 16:9 RPTV, you don't want to watch 4:3 material a lot with black bars on the sides because that will cause burn-in.

    Most of the looking I've done so far in my search for a RPTV has been of the 16:9 HD variety. Are there 4:3 RPTVs that are also HD ready?

    Just my $.02 worth.

    Bruce
     
  17. Andrew Beck

    Andrew Beck Stunt Coordinator

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    Yes, there are 4:3 TV's that are HD-ready. Most also have what is called a 16:9 mode that compresses all the scan lines into the widescreen picture so that you don't use any scanlines creating black bars. If you use this mode you aren't subject to burn in (on a RPTV) because you are still using all of the CRT. To my knowledge most 16:9 TV's do not offer a compressed mode for watchin 4:3 which means they are subject to burn in when watching 4:3 material (unless you stretch it).
     
  18. Roy H

    Roy H Stunt Coordinator

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    Bruce and Andrew, you both made some excellent points. I also chose 4:3, and more than 95% of my TV viewing is of 4:3 broadcasts. Why? Because the (truth) is more than 95% of broadcasts are still 4:3 and will be for quite some time! Why? Because (hundreds and hundreds) of millions of (paying) costumers still have 4:3 ratio TV's in their home! As far as DVD viewing goes, I have the Tosh SD-3750 DVD player which has (as many may know here) one of the best ZOOM features on the market due to the Zoran Vaddis V chip. If I am watching a 16:9 ratio DVD for example, with just one click of the zoom button guess what? No black bars top or bottom and I still have an excellent, (full 50 inch screen) (NOT STRETCHED LOOKING) picture on my Tosh 50A61 RPTV.

    Just my .02 cents worth.

    Roy.
     
  19. Rod Melotte

    Rod Melotte Stunt Coordinator

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    I would think that unless you play widescreem 50% of the time burning would not be a problem. For someone in the 5-15% range and unless your brightness is all the way up it would/SHOULD not be a problem. I HOPE!!
     
  20. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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    Lets not forget video games. Something about playing xbox and PS2 in 16x9 gives me extremely pleasure. [​IMG]
     

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