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Aspect Ratio

2009-03-31 16:44:42.921132+00 by ebradway 6 comments

You've all seen it - especially in bars and restaurants showing sporting events on plasma and LCD panels - mismatched aspect ratios between the signal and the display. It bothers the heck out of me... They always say TV makes you look fat, but this is ridiculous. I'd rather watch on an old black and white TV!

Last week I was staying at the Las Vegas Hilton for a conference. My room was equipped with a nice 42" flat screen TV. It did something even more annoying with the display - it progressively stretched the edges of the signal to fill the screen. So the center of the screen displayed the correct aspect ratio. But the display got worse and worse as you moved toward the edge of the screen. At first, I thought something was wrong with my eyes. But no, it was the TV creating the amusement park funny-mirror effect.

This trend seems almost universal. I just pulled up a clip on the CNN web site. The video aspect ratio is screwed up! It gets better when they use the split-screen effect... But come on! Do we really need to live in a world where all signals are stretched to 16:9 even when there is no physical reason not to?

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comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2009-03-31 17:14:56.631619+00 by: Dan Lyke

My wide-screen TV has something like 10 different stretching modes. Was there not a button to say "gimme the black bars at the sides"?

This reminds me of the "panorama" mode that I've seen on some cameras, even film cameras: They simply crop the top and the bottom of the image. Groan.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-03-31 18:04:08.592896+00 by: ebradway

So this leads to a gripe about hotel TVs. Many of the slightly-more-than-basic functions are controlled on the remote. But hotel TVs typically use one of those interactive host systems that uses a special remote - adding buttons for buying porn while eliminating the buttons for controlling the aspect ratio.

Hotel TV channel selection has also been dropping in quality lately. I've been finding in the "nicer" hotels like Hyatts and Hiltons that I get a choice of about 10 channels. In the mid-range hotels like Hampton Inn, I get about 30 channels including a couple movie channels. Ironically, the "nicer" hotels also charge for internet (I paid $13.99/day at the Las Vegas Hilton) while the mid- range provide it for free.

I haven't stayed at a lower-end hotel in a while. But the last time I stayed in a $25/night Patel-Motel, I got full-on digital cable. No chocolates on the pillow though...

#Comment Re: Aspect Ratios made: 2009-03-31 18:35:08.983054+00 by: jeff [edit history]

Outside of technical standards, I've often wondered the true significance of all of the aspect ratio permutations as they relate to the human viewing experience.

16:9 (video), 4:3 (video), 1024:768 (computer), 4:6 (photo), 5:7 (photo), 8:10 (photo), etc., etc., etc...

Here is an interesting reference.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-03-31 22:50:01.825353+00 by: meuon

Eric, the bad news is: the average consumer/user can't tell.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-03-31 22:58:37.443066+00 by: andylyke

Yeah - none of those aspect ratios even comes close to the golden ratio!!

Things just aren't what they were when Pericles was in charge :-)

#Comment Re: made: 2009-04-01 23:33:28.106799+00 by: petronius

When Pericles ran Athens they used REAL plasma...