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Thread: question for flatscreen TV owners

  1. #1
    Senior Member Wesley's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003

    question for flatscreen TV owners

    what is the percentage of programming that fills entire screen? I'm getting the impression that a lot of DVDs and TV programs are shown with blackout areas on the sides or top and bottom of the picture. I have a satellite dish (dish network). Does anyone have any experience with that service? It would be a pisser to spend all that money and have most of the programs, especially sports, not fill the whole screen.

  2. #2
    Senior Member smokey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Massachusetts, USA
    I have Comcast and get about 12 genuine HD stations, mostly in prime time viewing. A lot of sporting events are broadcast in HD. However most shows are still broadcast in the regular 4:3 format....ergo the black spaces on the sides of the 16:9 screen. It does kind of suck that most programs are not in HD. I've found myself watching some real stupid shows simply because they are broadcast in the 16:9 HD format. Supposedly many more HD programs will be available "in the future"......whenever that is.

  3. #3
    Hi Wesley,

    I have Hi-Def Comcast cable (only $5 more a month for Hi-Def) and can receive the major networks (ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox) in Hi-Def unlike Dishnet and Direct TV. Dishnet and Direct TV should be offering these networks (your "locals") in Hi-Def sometime soon. I believe I only get the CBS affiliate local news in "true" Hi-Def 1080i, the full 16:9 aspect ratio. The other 3 are still in the squarish 4:3 aspect ratio with the black or grey areas on the sides.

    For special events, especially sporting events like some football, some hockey, some baseball, some golf and most if not all NASCAR (NASCAR looks great in Hi-Def true 1080i 16:9, especially the nighttime races) on my local channels are in the full screen 1080i. Without these ocassional "special events" on the local affiliates you don't get very much full screen programming.

    It will certainly change as time goes by with more full screen programming. The only saving grace now is that the price of LCD, plasma and projector TV sets are coming down in price pretty fast. But for now if you want a 32 inch TV (measured diagonally) you need to buy a 37 inch (or thereabouts) since the vast majority of programming is still in 4:3.

    I think I get about 35 channels that are always in Hi-Def and only 6 or 7 (I get a 9 HBO channel package so some of these are in full screen but not Hi-Def) of these are always in 1080i, the full 16:9 aspect ratio that fills up the whole screen. TNT-HD, ESPN-HD, HBO-HD, National Geographic HD, INHD 1 & 2 and now MTV-HD. All of the other ones are in the smaller mailbox type 16:9 aspect ratio but most are in the regular 4:3 aspect ratio with the blackout areas only on the sides of the screen. Fox uses grey instead of black on the sides...... I guess to blend in better for those with sliver or grey widescreen LCD or Plasma sets. And some of the full screen 1080i shows on the TNT network look a bit "stretched" because they've formatted a 4:3 recorded TV show into a 16:9.

    I have a 32" widescreen LCD that is actually only 29 inches when measured diagonally in 4:3 aspect ratio.

    So it really depends on what "package" you subscribe to and until satellite starts beaming your local major networks in full screen 1080i you're gonna be even more limited.

    If I had to guess I would say that only 5-10 percent (probably closer to 5) is in the full screen 1080i Hi-Def all the time. I'm mixing Hi-Def and regular wide screen in my estimation so it's really a difficult question to answer.

    DVDs should tell you on the package what aspect ratio it's recorded in. And if you can afford to buy ($500-$1,000) a Hi-Def HD-DVD or Blu-Ray DVD player (two different Hi-Def formats to further confuse the subject) it will/should tell you on the package. Most if not all of the newer movies will be in full screen (1080i if it's in Hi-Def) since that's how they're shown in the theaters. But the Hi-Def DVDs cost about 25% more. Like $20-$22 for a single movie. I imagine they cost more to rent too.

    You're probably more confused now than before I decided to try and answer your question!

    Hopefully someone else will correct any mistakes that I may have made. It's a confusing subject to say the least but 16:9 is "the wave of the future".

    Good luck.
    "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle." - Philo of Alexandria

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