Why do some digital stations appear to have a small 4x3 in the center of the screen, and a lot of wasted black space all around?
A true HD signal (not just "digitized" 4x3 over sat or cable) is designed and broadcast for a 16x9 area on your screen. So when you view the 16x9 broadcast on the 4x3 set, it takes up a band across the screen. The TV isn't adding bars at the top or bottom of this, there's simply no info there from the broadcast.
A fair number of HD signals (I use free OTA with an antenna) are, at this time, simply upconverting a lot of traditional 4x3 programming. What this means is that you'll also see black bars at the left and right of the 4x3 programming, being broadcast in the 16x9 mode. When these stations are broadcasting true HD, you'll see the black bars at left and right of the 16x9 field dissappear.
Why the KD-36 is better than the KD-34...
Sony offers 2 sets that, from cabnet design to guts inside, are pretty much the same TV. The only difference is that the 36" model is 4x3, while the 34" model is 16x9.
Ok, but why should I get the 4x3 set? It's not widescreen and I was told to get widescreen...
- The 4x3 set is 400 US cheaper because 4x3 sets have less s+x appeal
- 16x9 broadcasts are only 1 inch less wide than the true 16x9 set... a very marginal dif.
- traditional 4x3 broadcasts are huge on the 4x3 set, and very small on the 16x9 set
- The 4x3 set offers more practical zooming fuctions for digital 4x3 or 16x9 images for a truely huge picture.
Some other items of interest...
Noticed some complaining of green globs in the upper portions of the TV. I will note that when I got the TV home, it did pass by one of my speakers, even though the speaker is a good distance away from it now, it did cause some discoloration at the top. Recycling power caused it to go away and I've never seen it again. I think passing this TV by any magnetic field during installation, moving, etc. (even if you didn't know you did). causes some sort of shift. Again, after recycling the power (which degauses the screen) I've never seen the issue again.
My last TV, a Panasonic GAOO, was very easy to affect with magnetic fields such as speakers. If I passed a speaker by the screen, it would take hours for the discoloration to go away. And typically that discoloration was green in tone. With the Sony though, all it took was recycling power, which certainly seems better to me.
If this issue keeps reappearing, check for anything too near the TV, such as unshielded front speakers, using an unshielded center channel, putting a HT receiver or powerbock under the TV's stand. If it keeps resappearing and you've eliminated all factors, then the TV may be faulty.
I've noticed that Sony's lower-end version of this TV... think it's called the 410 (silver cabnet, not gray) has a slightly brighter overall picture with SD than mine. However, it's HD signal processing is not as sharp or bright (my TV does have super fine pitch tube). It's not a huge brightness thing, just very minor. I think a set either has to be calibrated more towards HD or more towards SD. However, with OTA HD broadcasts of 4x3 SD material (still with me?
then my set is superior.