Originally Posted by veedon
See, that's where we disagree. You say that nothing was "broken" or incorrect or less than ideal when a 16:9 program was letterboxed for display on a 4:3 screen. I say that things were in fact broken. That screen should have been 16:9.
The truth is that it is currently impossible for TV sets to correctly handle both aspect ratios (4:3 and 16:9). Clearly what is needed is a TV screen that has the ability to physically "morph" dynamically to change the aspect ratio of the screen (while making sure the area of the screen always remains large and easy to view) in response to the aspect ratio of the programming. Until that technology is developed, it makes sense to let the user control the settings to deal with the mismatch between program aspect ratio and screen aspect ratio in the way that the user deems best for himself.
The issue is that is already sort-of possible. My TV (And many others) have a "set by program" mode. It adjusts the screen to what the BROADCASTER flags the program as. For example, when I tune to WRAL2, This TV, it displays it 4:3, with pillar bars. The channel is flagged as 4:3 and thus always gas pillar bars. Everything I have ever seen on 5-2 is in aspect ratio - granted, it's chopped, but that is better than distorted.
When I tune to WFMY2, WeatherNation, which is flagged as 16:9. I don't have to do anything - the picture fills the screen, because it is supposed to. It's a widescreen SD picture. As I said before, WGHP 8-2 is the same way.
However, on WCWG-3, Estrella TV, the entire channel is sent by the station as 4:3. Some of the shows on there are supposed to be 4:3, and display properly. However, some of the shows are 16:9 but they appear "smushed" in the middle of the screen. If you change the aspect ratio to 16:9, it fixes it, but then everything else is screwed up.
There are plenty of Directv channels the same way - Baby First, BYU, and GodTV are displayed with a 16:9 SD picture and show as 16:9. Other channels, like Arirang, NewsMax, Univision-West, etc are "smushed" - a 16:9 image crammed into a 4:3 window.
WHY WHY WHY isn't it consistent? There's really no excuse for it not to be. If the local broadcasters would just do it right instead of giving attitude about it, there wouldn't be an issue. Directv's CSR's have no idea what you're talking about when you ask them, so it's just as hopeless. People are overcomplicating a simple thing.