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Hi guys,


After doing some research, I've decided to go ahead with the purchase of the XBR800. The only problem is that I am not sure which to get.


Can anyone give me a comparison or pros and cons of each? Anyone have a preference?


I was considering the 36XBR800 because of PS2 games I will play and watching a lot of tv shows, but I also like the WS format the 34 provides because I watch a lot of DVD movies. Thanks in advance for any feedback. :p
 

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Search for an older thread on this subject. One guy brought both models home and watched them side-by-side for the 30day return period. After only a few days he found that he was only using the 34XBR800 widescreen model and returned the old-fashioned 4:3 model. I'd recommend following his lead, you won't be sorry.
 

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Or.....


Get a 40XBR800 for a little more and get the best of both worlds.... a 16:9 image larger than the one on the excellent 34" and a 4:3 image for TV and games that is larger than any other CRT available today. Careful listening to the "4:3 is dead now" stuff....that time is coming, but if you need to live in both worlds and use games, the 40" XBR does get you both advantages.
 

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I personally have decided to get the 34" widescreen. In fact, one of my first decisions was to get a widescreen, before I even considered specific models and manufacturers.


One reason is that the set looks better to me. A 4:3 of that size would feel like a monster looming over me in my living room; a widescreen TV set just has the right fit and feel. I believe it's also lighter. And, although I do watch more TV than movies, my movie collection is small, and I expect to get more movies and spend more time watching them. Also, TV is gradually shifting over to widescreen shows already, and will only get moreso during the life of any TV I buy.


Some say that a 4:3 makes more sense if you mostly watch TV shows, because then a greater fraction of the material you watch will be the right size without black bars, image clipping, or distortion. But whatever you watch the most, that's what you'll get used to. Get used to superhuge TV shows, and movies will get small and wimpy-looking on a 4:3 set. I WANT my TV shows to be the smaller, or otherwise altered, image, and the movies to be the more special experience, what I see in full size and glory. Even setting aside the psychological part of that, which I know isn't the same for all people, 4:3 tends to be lower quality source data than widescreen programming, so a 4:3 set blows up the low quality sources complete with artifacts, while it's the higher quality material that suffers one kind of aspect-ratio conversion or another.


To prove or disprove my gut feelings about this, I visited the local stores and tinkered with the widescreen sets' display modes for 4:3 to make sure I could always find one that I thought worked well enough. And there always is at least one mode that displays 4:3 just fine, without appreciable sacrifice. I also watched my own 4:3 analog TV at home for a while with fabric over calculated parts of the screen to simluate the "zoom" mode, the one I suspected I'd use the most. Some technically 4:3 shows even seem composed in such a manner that they work BETTER on a widescreen set in zoom mode; the spacing and distribution of important picture elements seems better balanced at the top of the screen, with the lower portions of it housing largely superfluous image content.


Some have reported that the the 34's picture quality is better than that of the 36, at least for movies, as well as slightly wider. Even still better than the 36 in "enhanced 16:9" mode (which only scans the middle of the screen as if it were a 16:9 set).


And if the aspect-ratio question doesn't decide anything for you, consider the only other major technical difference: Sony for some reason saw fit to bestow an anti-glare coating on the 34 but not the 36. That's another thing in the 34's favor to me, since glare is something I care about a lot. I there's anyone who DISlikes such a coating, I've never heard of him/her.
 

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The point about movies being smaller on a 4:3 screen is true. It can be underwhelming to queue up a widescreen DVD after watching NFL Season Ticket all day. My solution is to move my chair closer when I watch a movie.


Consider that a 34" widescreen gives you a 28" diagonal 4:3 image. $2500 is a lot to pay for a 28" TV.


Ask yourself how much you watch DVDs, how many shows you watch are available in HDTV, and whether you're willing to spend the $800 or so and put up the aerial antenna to get local HDTV and the pitiful satellite offerings. Yeah, it looks fabulous, but there ain't much of it. And there's no HDTV TiVo or DishPVR yet available.


The KV-34XBR800 sure looks fantastic in a small room, though...


::
 

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I'll also add that people talk a lot about 4:3 NTSC source material looking really bad when blown up to 36" or 40". Keep in mind that this is very subjective. I've been watching plenty of NTSC (from my TiVo, no less) for over a month now, and it's fine, in my low-brow opinion. So I'd say, take the videophiles' advice into consideration, but definitely go to the store, stand in front of the set (as far away as your couch is), and try saying to yourself, "So?". Just try it.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by zmatrix
Can anyone give me a comparison or pros and cons of each? Anyone have a preference?
We ALL have a preference, just not the same one :)


I went with the 34XBR800.


o I watch a lot of DVD movies, and 16:9 is a plus for that


o Of the XBR models, it is the only one that would fit into my modified stereo cabinet (have 10 inches extra on each side, but only 2 inches on top). The cabinet is a nice piece of oak furniture I paid around $1000 for in 1985 and matches my oak floors and other furniture. Not a driver but a factor.


o I think 16:9 is the way most broadcasts will be in a few years


o My wife and I don't mind the look of stretched 4:3 using the FULL mode on things like CNN and football (others do not like it).


o Viewing distance is 7-8 ft and that seems pretty good for most material with the 34 (would not want to be much bigger for NTSC stuff with the attendant artifacts). Distance is just about right for DVD movies (480p) but could be closer for HD broadcasts (1080i).


Not verified myself, but others say that the excellent anti-reflection coating on the 34 does not exist on the 36 nor the 40. By the time I read this, I'd already bought my set and have not been back to look since. But in my relatively well illuminated living room (lots of windows and in sunny So Calif), reflections could be a killer -- but are not with this set. YMMV.


Phil
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Atomic Buffalo

Consider that a 34" widescreen gives you a 28" diagonal 4:3 image. $2500 is a lot to pay for a 28" TV.

But who really pays MSRP? (OK, I know that the actual price you'd pay is still high...)


Just to make sure the original inquirer knows: When people say that a 34" widescreen TV gives you a 28" 4:3 image, they're talking about the display mode that Sony calls Normal, which puts the complete picture in the middle of the screen and black bars at its sides. There are 3 others.


One that I think might be called Full or Fill (which can be two different display modes in another manufacturer's terminology) stretches the picture to fill the screen, leaving the top and bottom matched up so the whole picutre is shown. Some people say they don't mind the stretching, some say they do, and some say they did but got used to it.


Zoom mode keeps the shapes and proportions correct by zooming in on the picture, sort of like pan-&-scan movie format fills a 4:3 set by zooming in so the black letterbox bars are gone. The drawback here is that some of the image is cut out and not shown; in a P&S movie on a 4:3 set, you loose picture to the right and left, and in a widescreen TV showing 4:3 material in Zoom mode, you loose picture at the top and bottom. That's where my experiment covering parts of my screen at home with cloth came in. In Zoom mode, you can scroll up and down, choosing to cut off more from the top and see more of the bottom, or the other way around; you're not stuck in the middle of the screen. In fact, you can go almost to the top and bottom edges of the original image, so that the material you loose is almost entirely below or above. I've found that Zooming and scrolling up just short of the top (or covering the equivalent parts of my old analog 4:3 at home) works very well for many shows, especially if there are "tickers" running by on the bottom of the screen.


Then there's Wide Zoom, which cuts out less material than Zoom and fills the screen by doing some stretching, but not as much as the Fill/Full/Stretch mode. It's a compromise between the two methods. The distortion and the loss of parts of the image are still there, but they're both at low enough levels to have a good chance of not being noticed, or not being a problem. And, as with Zoom, you can scroll up and down. In fact, you can pretty much scroll up and down to the very top and bottom of the original image.


If you own such a set, you might find yourself switching modes for different shows. Some people who don't like those banners and tickers at the bottom of the screen use Zoom on those channels and scroll up to get the "real" picture and eliminate the mess at the bottom. For live action shows like sitcoms, Zoom and Wide Zoom are likely to be the best. For cartoons and most video games, I'd use Fill, because the stretching wouldn't matter with things that don't look real anyway and it keeps all of the picture visible with no black bars......
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Delvo
Just to make sure the original inquirer knows: When people say that a 34" widescreen TV gives you a 28" 4:3 image
Also keep in mind that while the stretch modes do let you use more screen area for 4:3 material, the 36XBR800 will still have ~28% more screen area used than the 34XBR800 (vs. ~70% more when a stretch mode isn't used.)
 

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That may not be 28% more "useful" screen area, if its desirable to remove the ticker-tape noise at the bottom of many channels! The widescreen model with a stretch mode for 4:3 programs is the better way to go!
 

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I just picked up the 34" 16:9 and it'll be delivered tomorrow afternoon. The store actually had 34" and 36" 4:3 side by side. For normal TV viewing, for sure the 36" looks bigger and better. However, I already have a 57" 16:9 Sony bought last year and I've been using the stretch mode (makes everything a bit fatter and lose a bit of top and bottom) and we get used to it.


The 34" looks small and it'll be a perfect set for my room. It's hard to justify the adv. and disadv. of 16:9 vs 4:3 but if it's one set that you want to keep forever, you may as well pick up the 16:9.


That's just my opinion of course,


Simon
 

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Regarding the various stretching and cropping modes of widescreen TVs...


If you think your friends get irked when they come over and see letterboxing on your 4:3 set, wait until they come over and see heads cut off or shows with nothing but fat people on your 16:9. They'll never take your A/V advice seriously again. "You paid extra to make it look bad?"


I know you get used to it and it can even be a more enjoyable experience than stock 4:3, but you are talking about altered images, which is a strange place to be.


::
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Atomic Buffalo
If you think your friends get irked when they come over and see letterboxing on your 4:3 set, wait until they come over and see heads cut off or shows with nothing but fat people on your 16:9. They'll never take your A/V advice seriously again. "You paid extra to make it look bad?"
Well, true. But I didn't buy the set for my friends to watch nor to impress them. Mostly I stretch 4:3 material on my 16:9 set using Full mode (vs. Zoom or Wide Zoom) and I'm happy with that.


And If trying to impress folks, be assured I would tune in a 16:9 HD broadcast or load in a widescreen DVD. Most NTSC quality is not impressive, with or without the heads cropped!


Phil
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Atomic Buffalo
wait until they come over and see heads cut off or shows with nothing but fat people on your 16:9. They'll never take your A/V advice seriously again.
Well, ya, if you're stupid enough to use the wrong settings like that, you ARE asking for it...
 

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... and i decided to save some money and go for more "backwards compatibility" and get a 4:3 set, since i have analog cable and watch lots of 4:3 tv. so i got a Philips 32" (32PT8320), which has great PQ.


guess what? i'm returning it and getting a 34XBR800.


ok so this is not exactly fair, since my set was only 32" (not 36") and it was defective after all (controls are all messed up), but i also realized something. i used to be one of those "aspect ratio diplomats," so whenever DonBerg and drfrank started getting into (yet another) one of their squabbles, i took the middle road and said it was personal preference. that's still sort of true, but i personally have changed my mind. i used to lean towards 4:3, i was waiting for HD to become widespread, etc. etc. but my new stance:


4:3 is dead. long live 16:9.


why?


1.) i watch dvd, and it looked great on the Philips with the 16:9 squeeze, but it bothered me that i was not maximizing the picture area. the set also looks very bulky, very high and stodgy and not sleek like a widescreen, as Delvo pointed out. DVD is better on a 34" widescreen than a 36" standard, you get more picture area (for anamorphic at least) and it's more space efficient.


2.) yes i have analog cable now, but HDTV is around the corner, and in fact here in NYC i can get Time Warner DTV with a HDTV tuner at no extra charge. yes it's only for a few stations but it's the important ones (major networks, premium stations), and tons of prime time TV is already in HD. and i want to watch the Superbowl in HD this year!


3.) i have a PS2 and yeah i thought 4:3 was better. again, look to the future. the PS2 supports 16:9 mode and more and more games are being formatted for widescreen - for instance GTA3 Vice City.


again, these are just personal preferences, but i wanted to point out why i came around. just think of it this way, when picture quality really counts, 16:9 is what you want (DVD, HD), so you're making a relatively small sacrifice in viewable area where PQ is limited anyway (4:3 broadcasts). another way to look at it: imagine yourself in a year with one TV or the other... which would you hate more, asking yourself: gee should i have gotten a 16:9 so i can fully enjoy all my DVDs and HDTV now? or, gee should i have gotten a 4:3 so i could watch all these old standard broadcasts and VHS tapes in full frame? for me i'd hate the former, but maybe for you it's the latter... that's your call. hope this helps.
 

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Congratulations htsource, on your very wise decision to buy a widescreen 34" 16:9 HDTV instead of the 36" 4:3 set! You are obviously a wise and discerning individual, I salute you! And Dorkus - its good to see you came to your senses and took back that old fashioned 4:3 set to buy a modern 16:9 set! Welcome to the clan of proud WIDESCREEN owners! You should change your name since your intelligence has obviously increased significantly.
 

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don, you can count me as a widescreen proponent, but not one of your cronies. your patronizing comments almost compel me to side with drfrank. sometimes i really can't stand you aspect ratio mongers... :rolleyes:


zmatrix, i personally would suggest going widescreen, but not be swayed by the condescending and often misleading comments of people like DonBerg who think it is their business to judge others based on something so silly as their television preference. it's infantile beyond belief.
 

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Congratulating someone on their wisdom and intelligence is considered "patronizing" or "condescending" - I think you are confused! Even you realize now the advantages of widescreen sets, which I have posted many times to help educate newbies, to let them take advantage of the experience of someone who has been thru it already.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by DonBerg
"its good to see you came to your senses... "

"You should change your name since your intelligence has obviously increased significantly."

"Even you realize now..."
i don't think there's any confusion here on my part. if this were your 1st or 2nd post and you made a mistake in wording or tone, i would understand, but you seem to rather enjoy rubbing people the wrong way every chance you get.


and no matter how you cut it, choosing 16:9 over 4:3 is not any indicator of "wisdom" or "intelligence." educated decision making, perhaps, but wisdom, no. i only need quote you to prove to the contrary.


"educating newbies." whatever.
 

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Hey! You called me out by name! You didn't expect me to miss this one, did you? :)

Quote:
Originally posted by dorkus
1.) i watch dvd, and it looked great on the Philips with the 16:9 squeeze, but it bothered me that i was not maximizing the picture area. the set also looks very bulky, very high and stodgy and not sleek like a widescreen, as Delvo pointed out. DVD is better on a 34" widescreen than a 36" standard, you get more picture area (for anamorphic at least) and it's more space efficient.
I've always said that one of the reasons people like 16:9 sets over 4:3 sets is that they think the 16:9 set looks "cooler", but I'd point out that the "more picture area" isn't really a strong selling point, since you're only getting 5% more. As for space efficiecy, definitely valid. If you can't fit a higher TV, you should definitely go for the 16:9.

Quote:


2.) yes i have analog cable now, but HDTV is around the corner, and in fact here in NYC i can get Time Warner DTV with a HDTV tuner at no extra charge. yes it's only for a few stations but it's the important ones (major networks, premium stations), and tons of prime time TV is already in HD. and i want to watch the Superbowl in HD this year!
HDTV looks just as good (to me) on a 4:3 TV. If you can't stand the black bars, though, again, 16:9 is the way for you.

Quote:


3.) i have a PS2 and yeah i thought 4:3 was better. again, look to the future. the PS2 supports 16:9 mode and more and more games are being formatted for widescreen - for instance GTA3 Vice City.
Yes, but a 4:3 does just as good on the 16:9 games and way, way better on the (much) more common 4:3 games. So even in the future, you're covered with a 4:3 set. Unless, again, you really hate letterboxing.

Quote:


so i can fully enjoy all my DVDs and HDTV now?
Other than the black bars, what's to keep you from "fully enjoy[ing]" DVDs and HDTV on a 4:3 set?
 
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