Widescreen TV with HTPC TVout? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 2 Old 06-09-2001, 04:52 AM - Thread Starter
alf
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G'day, I'm running a HTPC with a GF2MX/Bt869 outputting to a standard TV. I'm thinking of purchasing a 16:9 widescreen TV (they've only become affordable to mere mortals in the last 6months here in Australia!) I mainly use the HTPC for watching DVD's (PowerDVD/WinDVD) and DivX's.

What is the best way of driving a 16:9 TV from a PC? SVideo from the TVout? or split the VGA into
Component/SCART/RGB (if the TV supports it!)? other methods?

If I stay with SVHS/SVideo what sort of issues do I have with the 4:3 signal from the PC/TVout? I assume I'll need to put the TV into some "4:3 letterbox/zoom" mode to make use of the extra realestate when watching letterboxed content. I don't mind doing this as long as the quality is okay, can anyone comment on this?

Are there better video cards for this instead of the nVidia/GF2? Do ATI do this better? I know the HW+ has widescreen support, but I want to throw the entire Windows desktop onto the screen, not just DVD/MPEG. Plus I've sold my HW+!

Apparently there's a new connexant TV chip coming out with widescreen support... should I wait!?

Two years of happy HTPC'ing and I want to take it to the next level. Thanks for any advice!
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post #2 of 2 Old 06-10-2001, 12:51 AM
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I'm not sure what the video standards are down under, but do not connect your HTPC to your HD-ready TV using S-video! RGB is the preferred method on this side of the planet, using a male VGA to male VGA cable or a VGA to 5 BNC cable, depending on the connectors on the TV.

If you go with a widescreen set, then for 4:3 content you either have to letterbox, cut off part of the picture, or distort the picture by stretching it horizontally. Side letterboxing runs the risk of 4:3 burn in. Cutting off the top and bottom of the picture is what a lot of folks do, but you could cut off sports scores in the process. I could be wrong, but I don't think there is a nonlinear horizontal stretch yet for PC's, but you can do a linear one, so that Ally McBeal will look like Roseanne. dScaler, YXY, Powerstrip, your DVD player program, DVD Genie, and your TV all give you some bits of control over the aspect ratio. There is no problem using a HTPC with widescreen sets.

The other option you can consider is a 4:3 set with a selectable 16:9 squeeze. It squeezes down its raster vertically and becomes a widescreen set whenever you want, just with wide letterbox bars. This is what I have, and so my 4:3 480i NTSC TV is upscaled to full screen 1800x1200i, with no need to distort or to risk 4:3 burn in. There is some risk of widescreen burn-in, but since there are so many different widescreen aspect ratios, the chance that a sharply defined burn line will develop is reduced.

The ATI Radeon LE does a really nice job of scaling to high resolutions, and it's cheap, $80 USD. Also, ATI Player in conjunction with an ATI card does a great job of DVD playback and with minimal horsepower required from your PC, since it uses hardware DVD acceleration on the card. Other cards can do a nice job too, especially if you stick to an even resolution like 2X the DVD resolution (i.e., 1440x960i, at least for us region 1 folk.)

Anyway, the right choice of a monitor for your HTPC can make all the difference, so take your time and do your research. Look into CRT front projectors too. You may find that a cost effective way to go widescreen at this time in Australia, and they are a perfect match for HTPC's.


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