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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello eveyone !


I am about to emmigrate to Atlanta from London, and so have been busy reading up as much as I can about TV's and other electrical appliances.


What I really require is some guidance out there to help me sift through all the crap and identify my real needs.


I am looking for a direct view TV between 32 and 36 inches. Up to now, I have always had a 4:3 set (27inch Sony). However, I plan to buy a DVD player very shortly and start a DVD collection and I was told by a HT buff that widescreen is the only way to go.


My concern is that I presume alot of US TV broadcasts are probably still in 4:3 (quite a few in the UK are going wide screen), and I am concerned about how these 16:9 TVs will display a 4:3 picture. When I was on vacation in the US a few months back, a very nice salesman spent some time showing me how widescreen TVs stretch pictures - both good and bad. He demonstrated this perfectly by showing me an expensive set that did it badly, and so people changed shape as they walked across the screen, whilst other another set with an apparent lower spec actually did the 'morphing' better. Major concern for me if I am going widescreen.


I have heard that progressive scan is the way to go and the DVD player I am looking at has that capability, along with component connections.


I know that HDTV is firmly on the agenda in the US - its nowhere in the UK - but again presume that little content is actually done this way. I know nothing much about which resolutions are the flavour of the month and which are not.


I do not want to spend a largish sum of money on a TV that will become outdated in 2-3 years. My budget is around the $2000-2300 level.


My viewing will be split something like 40% sports on digital cable, 20 % other stuff on digital cable and 40% DVD.


I am fussy in terms of quality, not sound quality but picture. I will not be using the TV for sound - will use HT for that.


Therefore, any ideas on brands, aspect ratio, possible models, where and how much ?


I appreciate this is a big question and a lengthy post, but any help whilst I am in the abyss that is relocation would be greatly appreciated.


Kind regards,


ash


Added ...... I am staying permanently !
 

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How long do you plan on staying?

While HDTV is on track, you may be better off buying a cheap 4:3 analog set and junking it in a few years. As long as the cable companies keep dragging their feet, analog sets are here to stay for a very long time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Something brought up by the first response .....


My wife and I are planning to stay permanently. She is an American citizen.


ash
 

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Better. Since you mention Digital Cable, I hope you are not thinking that Digital Cable equates with Digital TV (of which HDTV is a subset). It does not.


Digital Cable has it's bandwidth limitations and so far the cable companies (who operate with no competition in most cities) are choosing to use Digital Cable for more channels, Pay-per-View movies (you order a movie and they deliver it over the cable), and Internet service, not HDTV (which needs quite a bit of bandwidth just to carry one station).


Right now, pretty much the only Digital TV you can see is from over the air antennas or the tightly controlled DVB sats. There is a tiny amount of FTA DVB HDTV, but so tiny, I don't think it is worth buying the equipment.
 

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I just purchased a Toshiba 34HF81. This is a widescreen, flatscreen, CRT model. For 4:3 material I think the only way to watch it is letterboxed with gray bars on the sides. People just don't look right in the stretch modes, but the stretch modes are great for cartoons.


The Toshiba's internal line doubler is very good and does 3:2 pulldown so I have no immediate plans to get a progressive scan dvd player, but if you have to buy a DVD player anyway you might want to go progressive scan. DVDs look great on this set.


If you are doing 40% DVD watching then getting a widescreen set is a no-brainer. You will shoot yourself if you don't.


The Toshiba has good colors and a good picture overall, but it does not have an HDTV tuner built in. I got a "demo" model for $1900 that was a customer return just a few days earlier. Most stores sell them for $2500.


You can also check out the Philips model which costs a little more. The Sony is way out of wack at $4000, and I don't think the Panasonic as near as good a picture. The 38" RCA doesn't have a flat screen and the line doubler isn't near as good (so a progressive DVD is a must and regular TV isn't as sharp), but it does have tuners built in and the price is hard to fault.
 

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I'm happy with my new Toshiba 34HF81. I like to use the Cinemawide 1 mode for 4:3 programming-the 4:3 vertical-bar mode is annoying. I bought the set because the picture is good, the reviews are good, the price is right,I expect the amount of 16:9 programming to increase, and the set is the most compact 34 inch HDTV monitor I could find.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thankyou for your replys. They indicate that there is alot that I don't know, but really ought to before I spend any serious money on a set.


If I have digital cable (I understand this is just the method of signal delivery, nothing else) then what format is most of the programing going to be in ? Presumably it would be some kind of interlaced output ?


Secondly, what format does a DVD put out, apart form being wide screen. If I Have a progressive scan DVD player - would this be 480p and if the DVD is not progressive scan, then what ?. Standard NTSC is 525I ?


Is there anyway I can get a grounding on all the different formats and resolutions I can expect to get from DVD, analogue/digital cable programming etc.


Finally, who are Sampo ? Never heard of them over here (in the UK). I see alot of questions about one of their models - the WH34D5 - although people seem to like its picture quality. Is this a TV worth considering ?


Thanks for all the help - I appreciate your patience.


Skirmy
 

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In the US we use an older standard called NTSC which was standardized in the 1930's. It is not quite as good as PAL. We have no widescreen analog in the US.


NTSC is interlaced and it is 4:3, just like your PC monitor. Google for NTSC and you will find out more than you want to know. In fact Google will be your best friend, although most websites will assume you know the basics, so I will briefly describe the basics here.


While television is somewhat regulated, it is not as tightly regulated as in the UK. The regulating agency is called the Federal Communications Commission and the FCC also regulates the cable, local telephone companies (to a certain extent, shared with State regulation) and the long distance telephone companies.


There is no BBC type tax here. Stations operate locally although there are large companies that own stations in many cities. Many are affiliated with a "teveision network" which pay the local stations to carry their programs. All the money to support the network, the show's production costs and the local stations comes from advertising sales, so you will notice right away many more advertisements than you are used to seeing. The advertising is run in an interruption type manner rather than just at the hour and half hour.


Here is a breakdown of TV stations operating in the US:

Current number of analog Licensed Stations as of June 30, 2001


UHF COMMERCIAL TV 734

VHF COMMERCIAL TV 570

UHF EDUCATIONAL TV 249

VHF EDUCATIONAL TV 125

_____________________________________________

TOTAL 1678


Now lets move on to Digital TV (also known as ATSC as opposed to NTSC), of which High Definition TV is a subset.


Here is a good page to start with:
http://www.digitaltelevision.com/pub...ch1.shtml#hdtv

Please note when reading this that there was a high expectation in 1999 that things were going to move along very quickly. They didn't. Also note that the writer is located in New York City. The WNET transmitter and tower were atop the World Trade Center.


And there is more here:
http://www.digitaltelevision.com/pub...book/toc.shtml


Here is a link to a very current story:
http://stacks.msnbc.com/news/752048.asp?cp1=1


We are still in transition. Here is a breakdown:

Current number of operational DTV stations as of April 22, 2002

(almost all of the above have DTV licenses, but most are unused)

297 in 104 local Markets

Nearly 82% of All U.S. Homes Within Reach of at Least One DTV Signal


Source: National Association of Broadcasters


So approximately 20% of the licensed stations are now broadcasting Analog and Digital signals simultaneously. FCC rules state that eventually they will all have to cease analog transmission once the transition is complete and turn in their analog license. No one is sure when that will be. There are FCC deadlines, but those deadlines have slipped with no repercussions.


Very little of the digital transmission is in HDTV. Over 90% is in 4:3, so on a widescreen there will more likely than not grey bars. You know what I am talking about if you have a widescreen analog in the UK. Only HDTV is transmitted widescreen.


This should get you started.
 

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Quote:
If I have digital cable (I understand this is just the method of signal delivery, nothing else) then what format is most of the programing going to be in ? Presumably it would be some kind of interlaced output ?


Secondly, what format does a DVD put out, apart form being wide screen. If I Have a progressive scan DVD player - would this be 480p and if the DVD is not progressive scan, then what ?. Standard NTSC is 525I ?
NTSC is 480i. Lower resolution than PAL, but less flicker. All cable broadcast is still in NTSC. Standard DVD players put out 480i, progressive DVD players put out 480p. HDTVs with internal doubler upconvert 480i to 480p or sometimes higher.


Most all programming is 4:3, a few shows are 4:3 letterboxed so with a widescreen set you can zoom in to fit the screen. This will be evolving towards 16:9, but it's going to take a few years.


HDTV broadcast is all widescreen 16:9 in 480p (FOX network), 720p (ABC), or 1080i (everybody else). This is available over the air in major cities and by satellite (DirectTV or Dish).
 

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Another note, since we're doing the primer thing, is that despite the fact that there are two HDTV (720p and 1080i) and one "EDTV" (480p, "Enhanced Definition TV") - also called by some "SDTV" or "standard definition" - digital signal types, any set-top box (the device to decode the digital signal) will accept all three types of signal and can be set to output the signal that your TV will require (usually 1080i/480p). :)


-Aaron
 
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