Do all widescreen TVs squash the image?

alisandeDecember 2, 2007

A friend of mine got a new 42" widescreen LCD TV recently. He loves it! I saw it the other day, and I hated it! All the people looked squashed to me. The news anchors had unnaturally broad shoulders, and dancers had short legs.

I didn't want to hurt my friend's feelings or dampen his enthusiasm for his new toy, so I didn't mention this. But someone else commented on it. The TV owner didn't seem surprised. He said the screen had three modes, and he demonstrated them. One turned the picture into a square, leaving the sides of the screen blank. The second made everyone look normal, but it cut off the tops of their heads and also cut off part of any text running at the bottom of the screen. I believe the third mode was called Stretch. That's the one he uses all the time, the one that squashes everyone.

Is this what everyone experiences with widescreens? I have to say I was really unimpressed. Yet widescreens are about all you can find these days if you go shopping for a TV.


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Some people want the large picture, regarldess of the broadcast format.

I have a 133" projector, and always run it so the aspect ratio is, I don't like squashed or stretched.

So if you have a 16:9 screen yes, you'll have black bars on the sides of the picture when watching 4:3 content. Unless you stretch it.

If you have a 4:3 (old style) screen, then you'll have black bars (letterboxing) on top and below the picture when you watch 16:9 content.

There are choices in between, which can also change with additional equipment...but for "standard cases" as your friends, 16:9 and 4:3 will result in either a steretched picture or black bars on the screen.


    Bookmark   December 2, 2007 at 12:56PM
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As Monogo says, it depends entirely on how the picture settings are adjusted. As stated above, all widescreen units have one or more choices to stretch a 4:3 (square) picture so it fills the 16:9 (wide) screen so the sidebars are eliminated. It is NOT REQUIRED that 4:3 material be run in stretch mode. It is the viewer's choice how to set his screen. I personally do NOT like the stretch effect and always watch 4:3 material in proper ratio.

So the short answer to your question is ... NO.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2007 at 4:03PM
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You were watching standard definition TV on a Hi Definition set. If the source was widescreen HD, then you would have thought that the picture was stunning.

It is a frustrating time for TV's. The sets are capable of a better picture than is being broadcast - except for the shows in widescreen HD.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2007 at 1:22PM
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Eventually, I think some time in 2009, the broadcasting standards will change entirely to digital. Then all programs will look normal in 16:9 aspect ratio.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2007 at 5:33PM
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Not necessarily. Digital transmission and HD or widescreen aren't necessarily the same thing.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2007 at 2:04PM
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Thanks for the info, everyone!

    Bookmark   December 10, 2007 at 6:28PM
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Eventually, I think some time in 2009, the broadcasting standards will change entirely to digital. Then all programs will look normal in 16:9 aspect ratio.

nope, that won't change a thing UNLESS they also choose to reformat the show at the broadcast end. several local stations are full blown digital already and the network shows fill my screen in HD. but the local shows are still 4:3 formatted and look like crap stretched. i solve this by simply hitting the Aspect button on my remote to set the screen as needed for that show.

even onthe HD channels i get older shows have not been reformatted to fit properly. it can get aggravating, i may as well watch them on my old 27" TV because with some shows that is about all the picture you get anyway on a widescreen.

oh, and the date that analog stops is Feb 17th 2009. on that date ALL analog TV EXCEPT low power local and relay stations must change to digital. i work with 3 different local station owners that do not have to change due to their being low power TV. but pretty much all the big netwrok station affiliates will be required to change.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2007 at 10:11AM
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