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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm new in this HDTV world. I'm trying to decide what to buy. Could some kind soul please explain why I should spend an extra $500+ to buy a 16:9 set? I understand the value of seeing the whole movie rather than 2/3 of it, but what is the advantage of a 16:9 set over a large 4:3 set displaying a letterbox image? Tell me why I should spend the extra bucks for 16:9. 16:9 looks cool, but what else will it do for me besides eliminate black bars above and below my movies? Thanks.
 

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Do you own DVD movies? If so, going to an HDTV-ready set (the new Toshibas have really come down in price and now the Mitsubishis are dropping, too), and getting a progressive-scan DVD player (I have the JVC model - less than $350 from ecost.com) will just blow you away!


480p looks amazing on a new 16:9 set that accepts input from progressive-scan DVD players. And, with many cities now doing HDTV broadcasts OTA, your choices of programming are increasing (CBS is doing HDTV for its new fall programming and ABC just announced a slew of movies to be shown hi-def over several upcoming weeks). DISH network offers Showtime and HBO (and a PPV channel0 in HD, too, and will offer CBS-HD to those who qualify.


Sooo...the premium for a 16:9 set is well worth it, imo.
 

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Not only will HDTV programming and most DVD's be able to display without the black bars on the top and bottom, but you are also getting alot more screen real estate for your extra $500. 16:9 sets are typically bigger than their 4:3 counterparts that have similar diagonal measurements. Just the cost of the extra materials has to add to the cost.


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Neely,

This is just one of those things were there are no right answers. It is an individual choice.

Widescreen sets are obviously better suited for widescreen material such as DVDs and HDTV. However, better suited is just a sizing term to me.

With the recent drop in prices in the low end widescreen sets, you can get a 40-55" set quite reasonably. On the other hand, most of the 4:3 sets have a "widescreen" mode now that lets you get full resolution in 16:9 mode and gets rid of some of the burn-in worries. So there are less and less "reasons" such as price and resolution and burn-in to get one type of set over the other.

The biggest factor to me is the amount of material I watch in either format. If a substantial amount (more than 60%) is one format, I would buy that format TV. However, some people believe that even if they watch more 4:3 material now, that will change in the future and they don't want to feel they wasted money now. Other people think that better material, such as DVDs and HDTV, are more important and therefore they would rather have a better suited screen for them than normal 4:3 material. In both of these cases, even though people are watching more 4:3 material they prefer a widescreen set.

Those are probably the main factors in making a decision, but everyone has specific needs and there may only be specific sets that suit them. Aspect ratio is only one factor in set shopping.

All that being said, I believe that if you are watching more than 60-70% 4:3 content and can get a good deal on a new 4:3 set with a good widescreen mode you won't be sorry any time soon. You probably have a good 3-5 years before widescreen TV content is the norm.

Well, enough blabbing...hope that helps.


-Gergg
 

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Actually, I think if your really not watching a lot of 16X9 source material, it does make sense to stick with 4:3 for a few more years. Most 16X9 sets that try to display 4:3 images distort and contort the picture just a bit too much for my taste. While some of the modes are better than others, they all noticeably make the image fatter. Some give you the option of blowing up the image at the expense of cutting off parts of the picture, which is not a very palatable option either.


However, if you at all think your viewing will soon be including a good deal of 16X9 content then the wider sets immediately make the most sense. Let's face it, these sets will be the future, but it is going to be several years yet before most of what you see on TV is in 16X9. My set is a Toshiba 56H80 16X9, by the way. My viewing is mostly TV where I use the Widescreen One option. It is one of the better stretching modes, but it is still obviously stretching the picture. Good luck in your decision ... Waving! http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/eek.gif http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/eek.gif http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/eek.gif



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COBRA


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"On the other hand, most of the 4:3 sets have a "widescreen" mode now that lets you get full resolution in 16:9 mode and gets rid of some of the burn-in worries."


Actually, there is more risk of burn-in on a 4:3 set. Why? 4:3 sets do not offer a mode that allows you to vertically stretch 16:9 material to fill the screen (not sure why you'd want one anyway, but that's beside the point). All 16:9 sets that I'm aware of offer you several ways to stretch 4:3 material to fill the raster area of the CRTs.


Therefore, assuming you're willing to use one of the stretch modes, you can fill the screen with all material you watch. With a 4:3 set, you can't.


In my particular case, I watch HD and movies almost exclusively, with a little sports and news thrown in. If you watch only a few movies and mostly sports, then burn-in on a 4:3 set may not be a factor. However, an awful lot of 16:9 HD and SD material will be on the air this fall (almost all of CBS prime-time, about half of ABC prime-time, and about a third of FOX prime-time), and if you like watching network prime-time and movies, a 16:9 may be a better choice.


By the way - it's a misconception that a 16:9 set costs way over what a 4:3 does. If you're comparing set widths, not diagonal measurements, the premium is about 10-20% in RPTVs, although a good deal more in direct-views, owing to the difficulty of making a 16:9 piece of glass.


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Plan for the future, it will be here tomorrow!


With 16x9 sets you have the same head height or vertical height in both 4x3 material and 16x9 material. With a 4x3 set the vertical height can change dramatically between a 16x9 image and a 4x3 image. I had a 36†4x3 for 3 weeks. The first time I played a DVD on it, my wife said, “the pictures too small, but I guess I can get used to it.†I now have a 38â€16x9 set. Although the 4x3 image is now the same as a smaller 32â€, the 16x9 image is now bigger. You could say they have the same size image, but that the 16x9 just has more info on the sides. Its like in the theater, all the shows have the same height, some are just wider. This seems more natural to me when you change between the two images. This of course is MHO.
 

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I actually bought a 4:3 Mitsubishi HDTV. I had that TV in my home for 2 months. After researching and comparing HDTV images on 4:3 sets and 16:9 sets. Comparing enhanced for 16X9 DVD's on 16:9 tv's and 4:3 tv's. Graciously, my salesperson allowed me to upgrade to a 16:9 set. After owning this set since March of this year, I have no doughts that I made the right decision.

Do you want to maximize DVD's and HDTV, or do you want a bigger NTSC image.

At first I thought I'd hate the compromise of gray bars or wide images. After a month of viewing, I was completely use to the vertical stretch.
 

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I haven't made the plunge yet - still deciding. And I've got lots of experience with thinking about 4:3 vs 16:9 and changing my mind. But I think I'm pretty much decided now on 16:9. The reason? Well, for one thing the new Toshibas are making 16:9 much more affordable. But I think the thing that really changed my mind was this post by fludolph .


It's a little hard to explain, but when you flip between 16:9 and 4:3 modes on a 4:3 set, the picture gets "bigger and smaller", with 16:9 being "smaller". Flipping between the two modes on a 16:9 set, however, give the impression of "narrower and wider". This is because most shots are framed with a constant height in mind - for example a head shot, or a head-and-shoulders shot. So, I think you feel like you're loosing more when you watch a 16:9 picture on a 4:3 TV than you would watching a 4:3 picture on a 16:9 TV.


Not only this, but 4:3 material is usually NTSC, which doesn't look as good on a large display. On a 4:3 set, you get the larger image with the poorer quality source, while on a 16:9 set you get the larger image with the better quality source.


These two factors have tilted me in favour of the 16:9 sets, and my plan now is to audition the Toshiba 57HX81 when it comes out and then make my decision.
 

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These are basically the same arguments I knew people would make. However, I must disagree with the fact that there are no 16:9 stretch modes for 4:3 sets. By default, if you tell and HDTV STB or a DVD player you have a 16:9 set and send it to a 4:3 set without going into "widescreen" mode, the image is that of a stretched (vertically) picture. In other words, people look a little tall and thin, but you see the whole picture. I actually prefer this in some scenarios as I think it looks more like a movie theater. People on the big screen often look a little stretched to me, but not bad. It is much easier for me to watch this stretch mode than when people are short and fat when using a stretch mode on a 16:9 set. Also, with the DTC-100, you can crop the edges of a 16:9 display which is great for 4:3 material being broadcast with black bars on the sides (burn in and smaller picture size on a 16:9 set). And most movies and shows shot in 16:9 have a safe area on either side so when you use the crop option you do not lose anything important (no arguments about cinematic purity, please).

I also think that DKeller is unaware that the "widescreen" mode on the new 4:3 sets prevents burn in because you are squeezing the picture and thereby not displaying the black bars to burn in. If you are watching alot of 4:3 material and thinking about getting a widescreen set, my biggest concern would be burn-in. The only way to prevent it is to use a stretch mode alot and from my experience that would be nasty. But, as with all things subjective, you have to see for yourself. I could not get used to either chopping people's heads of or seeing people get short and fat and I had a big problem on fast moving action things making me dizzy when in stretch mode. But again, that is just me.

By the way, on average you can buy a 54" 4:3 set for about the same money as a 47" widescreen. The difference being that a 16:9 picture on the 54" 4:3 set is roughly 49" diagonally, while the 4:3 picture on the 16:9 set is roughly 41". So the 4:3 sets picture for the money is bigger no matter what mode you are in.

Just some more fodder for the cannons...
 

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Quote:
I also think that DKeller is unaware that the "widescreen" mode on the new 4:3 sets prevents burn in because you are squeezing the picture and thereby not displaying the black bars to burn in.
No, that would be true if the 4:3 RPTV's used my patented Abdulian Lens (tm) to squeeze to 16:9, but they don't. Only the middle part of the CRT's is used to project the squeezed picture, so the phosphors get burned in the middle but not at top and bottom, whether you are in a 16:9 squeeze mode or the mode where the letterbox bars are explicitly scanned. 4:3 RPTV's are still unlikely to develop 16:9 burn lines at this time, as there is not that much 16:9 content to watch. 4:3 and 16:9 sets are equally likely to suffer 2.35:1 burn in.



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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
OK, I just got back from shopping after reading everyone's posts and here's what I learned:


Best Buy

1) I was told Enhanced Definition and High Defintion are the same thing, but some manufacturers use different terms.

2) An HDTV monitor displaying an analog Time-Warner cable channel is High Defintion, but an HDTV monitor displaying a digital Time-Warner cable channel is really, really high definition.

3) If I buy an HDTV and hook it to my $79 DirecTV receiver then I will also receive the top-end 1080i high defintion picture. I was assured I would be "totally knocked out" by this combination because DirecTV is all digital which is real high defintion.


Circuit City

1) All the HDTV sets in Circuit City display a 1080i image from a high-dfintion CD. Note: it is high defintion CD, not a high defintion DVD. When I said I was unaware of either a HD-CD or HD-DVD, I was assured it was HD-CD. Assuming my knowledgeable sales associate was correct, I was not all that impressed with the picture from the HD-CD player. It was better than my 36" standard TV, but not $3500 better. It made me wonder what all the fuss about HDTV is about until I found...

2) A 47" 16:9 HDTV Panasonic set ($1999) running off a progressive scan JVC DVD player ($249) with Toy Story 2. The picture was way better than any of the sets using the HD-CD player.


Other things I learned:

1) NOW! Audio (an independent retailer most likely to recognize an 1080i HD source if it bit him) was closed for an employee picnic which means I never got to show my wife what a real HDTV at 1080i looks like unless I don't know squat and the kid at Best Buy was right about the digital Time-Warner cable signal being real 1080i HD, which leaves me wondering why the Toy Story DVD looked better than everything else unless Circuit City has acquired a HD DVD player with a HD copy of Toy Story.

2) A 55" 16:9 displays a widescreen image that's the same size as 61" 4:3 display.

3) That I'm not going to buy anything unless it is a 16:9. I can't explain it, but they just look better.

4) It's incredible how poor the images were on some of the $4000 HD sets. I saw one that looked worse than the $49 black & white portable set in my camper. How they sell them is a mystery to me.

5) It is impossible to find a HDTV monitor displaying a HD source in Greensboro, NC which makes it very hard to convince my wife to spend $3500+ on a new TV.


Can anyone tell where I can buy a HD-CD player like the one they use at Circuit City?


Thanks





[This message has been edited by Neely (edited 08-12-2001).]
 

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"However, I must disagree with the fact that there are no 16:9 stretch modes for 4:3 sets. By default, if you tell and HDTV STB or a DVD player you have a 16:9 set and send it to a 4:3 set without going into "widescreen" mode, the image is that of a stretched (vertically) picture."


Correct; However, if you read my reply carefully, we're talking televisions here, not outboard processing. It's a given that you can do all sorts of outboard stretches, zooms and distortions, but it is a workaround, and most STBs and DVD players bury this choice several menu layers deep, so it's a little bit of a kludge. You can, of course, program a third party remote to do this, and I'd think most of us on this board that are into Home Theater would consider a programmable remote a necessity.


There is, however, a problem with doing this on some sets - specifically the Sony XBR 4:3. This set "auto-detects" whether a 16:9 source is being displayed, and automatically "squishes" the raster to provide maximum resolution on 1080i and DVD sources. You can't turn this "feature" off on the XBR400s (not sure about the 450's - haven't had the opportunity to play with one yet) so on this set, you really can't display all material full-screen.


I would also disagree with Abdul on how unlikely 16:9 burn on a 4:3 set is - it depends on what you watch, as my original reply stated. In my particular case (and I'll bet many others on this forum), 16:9 material is the majority aspect ratio - by about 80% to 20%. Long-term, this would be a bad thing on a 4:3 set.


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Hi All,

Here is my take on the subject. HDTV is ether 1080i or 720p in 16x9 aspect ratio. I do not consider 4x3 HD aspect ratio monitor as true HDTV. I know a lot of you will disagree. Face the facts TRUE HDTVs ARE 16X9 ASPECT RATIO.


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Bruce.in.Cary
 

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I like what Sean had to say. Sean, your argument/reasoning really has me reconsidering my position. I had originally commented to the initial poster that if most of his viewing was going to be 4:3 material then it really wouldn't make a lot of sense to purchase a 16X9 set and wind up stretching that image all the time.


However, Sean's reasoning seems to be the better argument for all viewer's to opt for the 16X9 sets. So long as the particular set offers a decent stretch mode that doesn't distort too badly, this is the way to go! http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/eek.gif http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/eek.gif http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/eek.gif


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COBRA


. . . Unleash the Hounds of Hell . . .


[This message has been edited by Dark Cobra (edited 08-12-2001).]
 

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Because the standard makers were too wimpy to make it 2.35.


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For A to Z on this issue, do a search on the subject; we exhausted it several times this past year http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/wink.gif


Just a couple things to consider: RPTVs are like FPTVs with fixed screens (a simplification, but it will do). A 4:3 CRT is at the heart of both screen shapes. The 16:9 RPTV has CRTs that are pre-squeezed to that shape; some 4:3 RPTVs have selectable squeeze CRTs that give you a choice of using either compressed raster (like the 16:9 sets are) or the full 4:3 raster. Both sets can experience burn-in under certain (mainly abusive) conditions. Expect to pay a bit more, on average, for a pre-squeezed set of the same projected image size vs. a select-squeeze 4:3 set (although the price difference is narrowing). There may a very slight advantage in spot beam optimization favoring 16:9 sets with HD material; in practice, you're not likely to see this. If you view a lot of 4:3 material, and can readily change your viewing distance (to move up closer for wide screen material) a 4:3 set may be a good choice. If you plan on watching mostly 16:9 material, a wide screen probably is better.

A FPTV may be the best of both worlds!

John in VA


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DKeller,

The way I mentioned to stretch a 16:9 picture on a 4:3 set does not involve any "outboard processing". Any DVD player, computer, or STB that allows proper output to a 16:9 set will do this. All I am suggesting is setting the devices for widescreen output. If the picture is not "squeezed" in the set after that, the picture will look taller and thinner.

Neely, without going over everything you "learned", please look up some of these issues throughout the forum, as it seems much of what you were told was not exactly correct (OK, flat out wrong for the most part). It seems like you know some of those things were wrong, but it is hard to tell from your post. Just remember that something "upscaled" to an HDTV resolution or just an Enhanced TV resolution will not look like an HDTV picture. Garbage In, Garbage Out is the rule with DTVs. The worse the original picture looks the worse it will look when the resolution is doubled or tripled. Just remember you are seeing all the noise and problems in the picture doubled or tripled also.

Also, as for the sets that do the "squeeze", this is what I meant when I said they would not get burn in. They are actually squeezing the entire picture, not drawing lines for letterboxing. And DKeller is right, many sets will limit your options on what you can and can't squeeze. As I mentioned, you have to be very careful about the specific set you buy and the "widescreen options" that it offers.

Good luck.


-Gergg
 

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"DKeller,

The way I mentioned to stretch a 16:9 picture on a 4:3 set does not involve any "outboard processing". Any DVD player, computer, or STB that allows proper output to a 16:9 set will do this. All I am suggesting is setting the devices for widescreen output. If the picture is not "squeezed" in the set after that, the picture will look taller and thinner."



Using the STB, DVD or HTPC to change aspect ratios is outboard processing. Letting the set do it is inboard processing. Sorry for the terminology - I spend too much time on the Video Processors forum.


Neely:


Not just some, all of what you were told at Best Buy and Circuit City was baloney. I didn't realize you were from the area - NOW! Audio Video is the place you want to go if you want to see HD done correctly, and get correct advice on what you can view and from what sources. The Raleigh stores even calibrate their floor models, which is an extreme rarity in retail.


Now carries higher-end stuff - Mitsubishi and Pioneer primarily. You will have to deal with Best Buy if you want a Toshiba locally, just take the knowledge you gain from your visit to Now and ignore what you're told in BB. Either that, or ask for advice on this forum and be deluged with makes, models, and price ranges. I personally think the last option is the best, but I'm biased. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif You can never have too much information, as long as it's correct information....


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ABC = Another Boring Channel. Watch CBS on Monday Nights!
 
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