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Old 10-29-2006, 09:17 AM   #61  
My plasma is High Def.
 

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Default Grey Bars on new HD Plasma-- any more ideas?

Hello, I've read your links, but still have questions...

I just got my first HD Plasma and hooked it up to my SD cable service and you know the rest... my wife wants it out of the house because of the ugly grey bars. We watch alot of 4:3 programming which will not be available in HD.

I agree- the grey bars are ugly, and we both refuse to stretch the 4:3 image into 16:9 - that's even worse, visually. The very best image is 4:3, by far and the built-in Zoom features cut off too much on the top and bottom, plus the huge resolution drop is a deal-killer for us.

I thought the distracting Grey Color (the TV set is Black) )was inserted by the Cable company because when I demo-ed a whole showroom of TV's fed by my same local cable service, they ALL displayed the same Grey bars in 4:3 mode. That was my assumption, until I read your docs which say grey bars are inserted by the manufacturers. I did recall seeing a different showroom without grey bars-- their in-house feed was from Satellite.

Bottom Line- If I am willing to risk burn-in, what can I add between the cable box and Plasma to see 4:3 with hopefully Black bars in 16:9 mode? Or, have you ever heard of customers "tweaking" their sets to darken the grey bars to black in 4:3 mode?

Our eyes are aging and if these manufacturers would simply let the 4:3 image vary it's position from far left to far right like a slow-moving screen-saver, I think the burn-in issue would be resolved.

Without a solution, I'm probably going back to a CRT-- the largest I can find.

Thanks for your time!
Maks

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Old 10-29-2006, 11:12 AM   #62  
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I don't know of any such box. Some satellite receivers will merge 4:3 programming into a black frame, but I don't know of any cable boxes or other processors that do that.

I used to have a real objection to the gray bars like you and I made a black mask to place over the TV screen. Since then I've changed TVs and the mask went with the one I made it for and I've given up on the idea. What I do is use my SD CRT TV in my bedroom to watch SD satellite channels and the HD TVs for the HD programming and SD on my local channels which are all merged into either a black or colored frame by the stations. Rarely I will watch a SD cable show on the HDTVs because they are just too ugly looking.
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Old 10-29-2006, 11:25 AM   #63  
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Default Upconvert?

Thanks for your reply. I am wondering if I can send my SD cable signal into an upconverting Panasonic (or other) DVD Recorder w/ HDMI outputs and onto my hdmi-capable Plasma in 16:9 (hopefully sans Grey pillars). Watcha think?

I do know that my current older DVD Recorder will actually degrade the signal in direct relation to the DVD quality it is set at, so I am a bit leary about this expensive idea. I do like your idea of a mask.

On the other hand-- and here's a stupid question for ya--will I want an upconverting DVD player anyway to watch Standard DVDs in all it's non-stretched glory on my Plasma's in 16:9 mode? Let's figure this out and help these knucklehead manufacturers while we're at it.......

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Old 10-29-2006, 01:27 PM   #64  
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I don't know of any DVD players that use black pillarboxes either.
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Old 10-30-2006, 10:21 AM   #65  
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You probably won't find any--the manufacturers don't want to be sued when they ruin your expensive display. If you can't tolerate the grey bars or watching the picture stretched or zoomed, you probably shouldn't have bought a wide screen TV or gotten an LCD instead...

Our set has a mode that progressively stretches only the sides, leaving the center with normal proportions. We got used to using ours in stretch mode pretty quickly because, honestly, SD looks rotten on HD displays anyway, so we just don't care. We don't watch any SD with any concern for image quality.

If your set allows you to scroll the zoomed image, you can scroll it down to see the entire top of the frame. You lose even more off the bottom, but it looks a lot better than cutting off peoples' heads
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Old 10-31-2006, 06:10 AM   #66  
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Default what happens when lawyers design TV sets

Thanks for your reply. Cutting off the bottom of a shot is indeed better than the top and this set does allow it, but again its implementation has let us down- and that's putting it mildly. Your set's variable stretch solution sounds like being a little queasy all the time, but at least you like it as an alternative.

By over-doing it and only offering a one-size-fits all preset, the edge-to-edge SD picture on my set looks horrible expanded to that degree no matter what part of the image is cropped off. I am not too concerned about HD programming since I don't watch sports. If one of my dramas is presented in widescreen, I won't complain. For the past 8 years. I have been watching a 27 inch Sony CRT, so the 40 inch diagonal I get with 4:3 SD on this 50 inch Samsung Plasma is a reasonable compromise. But you are right-it doesn't look all that great, which is why I reject the preset ZOOM modes.

The clear answer is to allow the end-user to decide if they want to look at a crappy 4:3 picture forever (grey pillar boxes) or a gorgeous, black edged display for a shorter period of time. Yes, I can sign a waiver and eat popcorn and handle the remote all at the time. Is this foolishness what happens when lawyers design TV sets?

Question: How many years of use with black edges would I get before observing this dreaded burn-in on 16:9 that everyone is so worried about?

Why don't they just let me move the 4:3 display around to minimize it? Or simply "dodge"the centered 4:3 section of the set at night while I'm sleeping?

You suggested an LCD and if those sets--- what do they use to fill-in their 4:3 display?
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Old 10-31-2006, 12:28 PM   #67  
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Depending on your viewing habits/picture settings, you might notice a difference in brightness between the two areas of the screen after only a few months. It really isn't "burn-in", it's just that the phospors are continuously aging and getting slightly dimmer with age. If part of the screen is routinely black, those phosphors won't age and dim as much. Then when you watch a widescreen image, you may notice that the sides are slightly brighter than the middle, with a hard demarcation at the pillar points.

LCD's don't age (except for the backlight, which covers the whole screen), so there is no reason they couldn't use black pillars.
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Old 11-02-2006, 08:11 AM   #68  
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Default Hd Dvd????

Good to know, but a few months, ouch. I think this tv is on from 7pm to 3am daily. I will try to put in on zoom mode in the wee hours when we're just leaving the beast on for company & sound.

Hey, I watched my first wide-screen DVD yesterday, a real Hollowood stinker called MI3. I konked halfway, but I'm told that it was just an act of self-preservation. Latex masks and microchips...yawn.

When I found that the 16x9 setting displayed a flattened DVD image, I used one of the zoom modes and the image filled the left/right edges of the screen leaving a sliver of letterbox on top and bottom. All that seemed like normal behavior and of course it seemed less sharp than the flattened 16:9 setting.

This got me interested in these new "Hi-Def" DVD players (and presumably more HD content later down the road).

Question: do you or anyone here know what an HD DVD would look like displayed using my TV's 16:9 mode? (rather than the less-sharp zoom mode, which clearly reduces picture quality at the expense of size)????? Is 16:9 what HD DVD is all about?

Thanks.
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Old 11-02-2006, 10:36 AM   #69  
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HD or hi def and aspect ratio are two totally differently things. HD is all about more pixels (more resolution) in the image. Most all DVDs currently out are widescreen with lower resolution than HD (typically 720 x 480 vs. 1920 x 1080 for HD).

Have no clue what you mean by a "flattened DVD image." Both the DVD player and the TV should be set for 16:9, or widescreen, whatever terminology the equipment may use. ANY use of zoom or stretch controls is going to distort the image and you shouldn't do that (well, some folks seem to like that stuff, I don't get it!).
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Old 11-02-2006, 10:41 AM   #70  
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All HD formats are inherently widescreen and have much higher resolution than conventional DVD. You don't have to worry about stretching or flattening. The "flattened" DVD's you were watching are referred to as "anamorphic" or "Enhanced for Widescreen TV's". They squeeze the widescreen image horizontally into the aspect ratio of a standard image, relying on the widescreen display to stretch them horizontally back to the original proportions.

They have less effective resolution than a conventional DVD because they are cramming more image into the same number of horizontal pixels, however, this is still the best method for displaying a widescreen movie in SD, as it doesn't crop the image, nor reduce the vertical resolution by shrinking the whole picture to fit.

True HD content will usually look dramatically better than SD, but there are a few caveats:

1) Films are not normally shot in a 16:9 aspect ratio, so you will most likely still have bars on the top and bottom unless you zoom in. This will reduce the resolution, but HD content will still look very good due to it's higher resolution in the first place.

2) The actual number of pixels on your display determines the ultimate resolution you see. The highest consumer HD resolution is 1920 x 1080 pixels, however if your display is only 1366 x 768 pixels, or 1280 x 720 pixels, the higher resolution image will be scaled down to fit your display's resolution.
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Old 11-02-2006, 10:47 AM   #71  
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For more info on DVD pictures see:
DVD Pictures
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Old 11-02-2006, 07:06 PM   #72  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paulc
HD or hi def and aspect ratio are two totally differently things. HD is all about more pixels (more resolution) in the image. Most all DVDs currently out are widescreen with lower resolution than HD (typically 720 x 480 vs. 1920 x 1080 for HD).

Have no clue what you mean by a "flattened DVD image." Both the DVD player and the TV should be set for 16:9, or widescreen, whatever terminology the equipment may use. ANY use of zoom or stretch controls is going to distort the image and you shouldn't do that (well, some folks seem to like that stuff, I don't get it!).
Thanks Paul, I'm learning with all the kind help here. Thank you all.

I have an ancient Sony DVD player and I've never explored the SETUP feature until now and lo + behold, there is indeed a 16:9 setting. No more "flattenned" movies watching on my plasma's 16:9 setting. No need to use zoom, either.

OK- so what I'm hearing is that there is significantly more resolution on HD DVDs, though nothing different in terms of aspect ratio. Thanks for links, too.

Any opinion on these "upconverting" DVD player/recorders? I gather they add resolution, but my gut tells me that 720x480 will never look better than true HD resolution.
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Old 11-03-2006, 01:37 PM   #73  
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Funny, now that I've had a HD set for 6 months, I'm actually appreciating the "widescreen" aspect as much as the additional resolution.

ESPECIALLY on DVDs. When I moved from SD to HD, I wanted the relative size of things to stay the same, so I matched the vertical height of my SD to my HD (32" SD to 40" HD). The first DVD I put in blew me away. The vertical height wasn't crushed near as much as the sides had "room" to expand/fill. Found a site that did calculations about sizing, accommodating both 4:3 and 16:9 displays, they said the DVD image was something like 80% bigger; my seat of the pants says that was quite true. So, HD aside, I think you'll like how your crappy old low resolution SD DVDs look like on a HD display!
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Old 11-03-2006, 10:29 PM   #74  
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Correct. Upconverting players don't "add resolution", they simulate higher resolution by adding pixels. It won't produce a sharper, more detailed picture like HD, but it will look smoother on conventional DVD, particularly on a large screen where the larger pixels of SD can become noticable.

Bear in mind that *all* HD displays upconvert SD in the same way as an upconverting DVD player, so in most cases, there is no benefit to an upconverting player.

Although HD doesn't provide any additional aspect ratios compared to widescreen DVD, it uses a fundamentally superior widescreen approach by encoding the widescreen image using all of the horizontal resolution that was intended for a widescreen image. Anamorphic widescreen DVD's squeeze the widescreen image into the resolution meant for a non-widescreen image.
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Old 12-02-2006, 10:12 PM   #75  
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First post for me, I'm a newbie, all I have to say about the bars and stretching is

I like Fat People!

Thanks!!

Great Thread!!

Dan

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