OT Couple Dumb Questions on HDTV

BillyBoy wrote on 1/12/2005, 8:36 AM
OK, last night saw my first in home HDTV. Looks, sounds great... yadda, yadda, yadda But...being a newbie at this, I'm wondering a couple things.

First, I'm getting it off WOW (Wide Open West) cable, anybody else?

Reason I ask is I'm a little confused over if its how they feed it down their cable or if its how its broadcast. For example the NBCHD channel while HD is mostly 4/3 and not wide format, with some exceptions like the Tonight Show. CBS seems all over the map, while ABC seems to broadcast everything from their local news to Opera and Nightline in wide format. Is this due to the networks themselves, the cable company messing with the feed or the local affiliates feeding the cable company?


FrigidNDEditing wrote on 1/12/2005, 8:41 AM
As far as I know, all HD is in 16:9.

rivalfilms wrote on 1/12/2005, 8:45 AM
The networks are responsible for all HD content. According to Post, CBS is by far the leader in primetime HD programming. We get HDTV on DirecTV and everything is widescreen and beautiful.
DavidMcKnight wrote on 1/12/2005, 8:46 AM

I'm on Time Warner cable and I've seen the same types of results. I think it is whatever the networks have available to broadcast. I'll see one network show in full HD, 16:9, etc and it looks great. And then, 30 mins later, the next show will be 4:3. In Fox's case they'll put up vertical bars with their logo on each side of the 4:3 content, as if to say "we own the full 16:9 space but the programming is only 4:3"...
FrigidNDEditing wrote on 1/12/2005, 8:51 AM
They could sell advertising in that space and make some major money until the shows are produced in 16:9.

rique wrote on 1/12/2005, 9:06 AM
They could sell advertising in that space and make some major money until the shows are produced in 16:9.

Please! Don't give them any ideas!

Chienworks wrote on 1/12/2005, 9:11 AM
Time to buy some opaque curtains to hang over the font of the TV set and close them over the sides when 4:3 is coming through.
BillyBoy wrote on 1/12/2005, 9:12 AM
Take 2, lets see if I can explain it better...

For example The Tonight Show fills the screen top to bottom, side to side, there are no borders anywhere. Great picture. A true HD wide screen image.

Other programming on HD channels is all over the map.

For example some commericals are obviously broadcast in wide screen, but they only fill a portion of the screen, there may be borders top, bottom, sometimes sides, but the portion of the screen not used is black as it should be.

However what is bugging me is some broadcasts on a HD channel are what can be best described as 4/3. What I mean is they fill the screen top to bottom, never any border at top or bottom and while the width seems wider then 4/3, there are vertical bars on either side. These vary in color depending on the broadcast, so it isn't the settings of the TV, rather what's being broadcast. On some channels these bars are lighter gray, others darker gray.

Others see this?
Coursedesign wrote on 1/12/2005, 11:40 AM
"However what is bugging me is some broadcasts on a HD channel are what can be best described as 4/3. What I mean is they fill the screen top to bottom, never any border at top or bottom and while the width seems wider then 4/3, there are vertical bars on either side. These vary in color depending on the broadcast, so it isn't the settings of the TV, rather what's being broadcast. On some channels these bars are lighter gray, others darker gray."

This sounds like 4:3 content broadcast as DTV (which can be also 4:3), not HDTV (which must be 16:9, but sometimes shows SD 16:9 letterboxed to 4:3 and broadcast in 16:9...).
Barry_Green wrote on 1/12/2005, 12:15 PM
Coursedesign is probably right. All HD broadcasts that conform to the ATSC specification must be 16:9. However, there are EDTV and SDTV digital broadcasts too, and those could be 4:3 or 16:9. And some content may be 4:3 SD-originated and up-rezzed to HD, which would mean "pillarbox" bars on the sides...
JJKizak wrote on 1/12/2005, 12:52 PM
Think of it this way: HD is always 16 x 9 unless they are cheating and showing digital 16 x 9 instead of HD. If it is 4 x 3 it is plain digital the quality of which can vary a whole bunch. (SD, ED). 4 X 3 is not HD.
Sometimes 4 x 3 is very good and very sharp, but it is not HD, it is digital. Sometimes a rebroadcast 4 x 3 (Cable picks a lot of them up locally) is terrible even though they transmit it digitally. Cable codes there stuff up with there own codes and you must use their tuner. Satellite codes their stuff up with their own codes and you must use their tuner. Over the Air is different and you must use an over the air tuner. Some over the air tuners will do satellite (maybe) and some will do cable (maybe), Usually when you watch an HD program the commercials will flag back to 4 x 3. Sometimes they do not and you get fat people. Some tuners have scaling problems with 4 x 3 and distort people a slight bit and make them look fat. Welcome to the show.
You must kind of go with the flow on what they are doing now for they know not what they do.


BillyBoy wrote on 1/12/2005, 12:54 PM
Very interesting comments. Thanks.

So even if my cable company is charging me a premium for the handful of HDTV channels they presently carry, some broadcasts while on a "HD" channel may be digital, but if not 16:9 they aren't HD because the "standards" say to be HD they need to be in the wider format which is what I thought. Silly me. I assume anything on the HD channels would be all 16:9.

What am a little worried about are those pillarbox bars causing burn in on my plasma. Can they? I already set up the monitor which has seperate circuity to make them as dark as possible.
JJKizak wrote on 1/12/2005, 3:33 PM
There was a lot of talk going around that the plasma's were sensitive to the edges of 4 x 3's if you left a picture on it for a couple of hours. Not so with the LCD's or tubes. Also be carefull of the warrantees which some of them state that you must have 27 pixels burned out of the screen before they will cover the warrantee. They were also saying that plasma's have a life expectancy of about 5 years. Of course this is unsubstantiated so don't plan to shorten your life span.

epirb wrote on 1/12/2005, 3:41 PM
Plasma & LCD TV's are not suceptable to burn in like a CRT.
Keep in mind and maybe I missed this in the other posts, but the HD channels broadcast their signal in which ever format they choose be it 1080i, 720p etc.this doesnt affect the size as far as 16x9 goes.
But, not every show is in HDTV, so for example if thier local news or a sitcom, (you'll notice the same with comercials) is not HD but your watching on the HD channel of that station you will see the "pillar bars"(black or grey bars on the side). Mainly because your cable box is still sending out the signal as a 1080i signal, so the Monitor is going to keep the screen format @16x9.
Many cable boxes, such as the Pace , motorola, and the newer scientific Atlanta boxes have a function similar to what the TV's have . That is the format changes such as stretch, expand,zoom.The cable box remote will do the same thing, reason being, many TV's or monitors lock out or will not allow a format change when recieving a 1080i signal.
you can then select that setting to "expand" the image to fill the screen if you want. The non HD programs will appear much softer, some people say its blurry, its basicly because the box is trying to upconvert/line doulbe that non HD image.

Some times the picture variation is just sloppy output from the staion itself.
For instance, the Fox Channel which is not HD, just widescreen EDTV in my area is all over the board. The overscan changes all the time, sometimes the Fox Bug or Logo is burried at the bottom of the screen. My CBS station broadcasts their News in HDTV , but they have slight pillar bars, while CSI and other programs are full 16x9.
Coursedesign wrote on 1/12/2005, 4:07 PM
Modern plasmas are rated at 60,000 hours.

If you spend the American average of 40 hours per week in front of the boob tube (boob screen?, perhaps spleen screen for those who are angry about the programming :O), with a 2-week vacation each year, your screen will last 30 years.
epirb wrote on 1/12/2005, 4:11 PM
Yup and plasmas actually have a slight increase in brightness and contrast in the first 10,000 hrs where as LCD's losse a little from new.
One side note , they are NOT waterproof, one of my customers ran his 50- foot yacht aground, and the boat sunk in 8 foot of water. When it was hauled out the plasma screen had sand Inside it! looked like one of those scenes you made with sand in a bottle.

Also I should add that while Plasmas dont really suffer from burn in " per se " the Phosphors are suceptible to some image retention mainly in the 50 - 100 hrs, it sounds like you my have cal'd the screen so I should need to tell you that the contrast should not be set any higher than 50%, and just to be safe limit the pillar bar viewing to as little as possible.
Didnt you say you bought a Panasonic?
panasonic monitors often have a feature with a white bar that moves accros the screen and can get rid of any signs of image retention. You usually have to access it via some remote button seqeunces if I remember correctly.
BillyBoy wrote on 1/12/2005, 4:46 PM
Yes, I got a Panasonic. The reason I asked about the burn-in is the manual that came with it has options for a screen saver like you mention which they refer to as something to use to prevent "after-image", and another feature to adjust the brightness of what they call side bars.

Funny you should mention the contrast setting. Out of the box, fresh from the factory is was set at 90%. I'm going to do the setup tonight. Just eye balling it I got the contrast at about 55% or so. The cable guy wasn't in the house more than five minutes and I was on the phone, so I saw he was playing with some of the extensive menu selections, so luckly there is a "restore" button, so I'll go back to square one.
epirb wrote on 1/12/2005, 4:55 PM
I use my Avia disc every week, but I also have a "not as extensive, disc called home theater essentials. since it might be a one time thing for you, if you would like I could loan it to you. If you want , email me a epirb at comcast dot net .
BillyBoy wrote on 1/12/2005, 5:14 PM
Thanks for the offer. I already have Avia. I was playing the audio set -up part earlier to see what they cover, always skipped over it before and they really have a good collection of test tones.

My poor dog... I happened to hit the one where they rotate the bass through all the speakers and it goes from about 1000 Hz down to 20 and repeats several times so the dog takes off to probably hide under one of the beds upstairs. They say set to run it at 85 dB, so I did. Good thing I went up to see if the dog was alright. The family room is a little right and below when the master bath is and the mirror in there is about 10 feet wide. It was virbrating pretty good. So I run downstairs to turn the volume down. Most exercise I had in a year.
PhilinCT wrote on 1/12/2005, 6:48 PM
FOX was not even thinking about HD when the other Networks were already experimenting. Most of thier HD sports is bought from CBS.