Standard vs. Widescreen


I just started looking for a big screen TV and noticed that everything is now widescreen instead of the old "square" screen. My concern is that most TV programs are not shown in widescreen format. I saw one Widescreen TV at the store showing ESPN and the image was streached and it looked horrible. Is there a way to make the regular channels look normal on a widescreen?

yes, what you saw was expanded 4 x3 which people use to eliminate the gray side bars...All widescreens let you watch "normal" tv in its regular format

edgar v
actually, most new widescreens offer a few different screen modes:

1)STANDARD (the picture is the regular 4:3 aspect ratio (square), and there are black or gray vertical bars on either side. This isn't a good mode, because i've heard that there is a possibility of the lines burning in on RPTV's. and what's the point of having a widescreen if you can't use the whole screen?)

2)FULL (this is the "stretch" mode that you saw. the 4:3 image is literally stretched horizontally to fit the 16:9 widescreen, and usually looks horrible)

3)ZOOM (the image is zoomed in, so you see the central part of the image fit perfectly into the widescreen, but the outer parts of the picture are cut. If your watching CNN or ESPN2, e.g., you can't see the scrolling on the bottom of the screen. But the image isn't stretched, either.)

4) WIDE ZOOM (this is the best mode, and the only reason I went with the widecreen. what this does is zoom in a little on the center of the image, and then exponentially stretchs the outside of the picture to fill the screen (that is, the image is stretched less three inches from the end than it is two inches, and so on). since 99.99% of all "action" occurs close to the center of the screen, the stretching of the outside is not noticed. You really can't see the stretching effect unless you watch scrolling letters at the bottom of the screen, when they get to the end, you can see some movement.)

the bottom line is, you should get a widescreen, because that's the wave of the future (some tv shows, like ER, already shoot in widescreen). The WIDEZOOM mode is perfect. (at least on my Sony 46"). you won't notice a difference.


There are a few good reasons to purchase a "wide-screen" television. But, for the purpose of this post, I'll interchage "wide-screen" and "HDTV" how I see fit as the primary reason for the development of "wide screen" formats, is the introduction of "HDTV".

ONE: You'll want a "wide screen" for viewing Wide Screen DVD's. The fact that 65% of current DVD movies are found in Widescreen format, there develops a higher demand for Widescreen TV's. This doesn't mean, as has always been the case, that you can't continue to view your widscreen DVD's on your normal, or standard 4 x 3 television. But you'll gain so much more real estate by going Widescreen in this situation. You'll reduce the risk of looking at the "black bars" when watching 16 x 9 pictures. (But, while this is not always the case, you will often see various screen formats as well that will cause varying degrees of black bars. It comes with the territory.)

TWO: HDTV Decoders & HDTV programming. Once you go HDTV, you'll never go back. Truer words were never spoken. However, rememeber...just because you purchased an HDTV-Widescreen Monster, doesn't mean you're going to get home and be watching HDTV programming as soon as you plug it into the wall! It don't work that way. YOu'll need several things: You'll need, obviously, the HDTV. You'll need a decoder; either in the form of a built-in decoder manufactured with the TV, or of the OTA, Cable, or Satellite variety's. You'll need CONTENT! This means that you'll need to be tuned into an actual HD Broadcast. These are view and far between at the moment. HBO-HD, Showtime-HD, Discovery HD, ESPN-HD are some examples of content providers. YOu'll need to be viewing an HDTV program in order to be watching HDTV. So, you can see that, out of the box, a Widescreen is just that...wider!

THREE: You'll want a good Progressive Scan DVD player, some GOOD cabling, perhaps a Digital Filter, and some patience until HDTV programming becomes more available.

If you combine all of these together, you'll find that the purchase of "Widescreen" HDTV, will be enjoyable. Without any ONE of those elements listed, you'll be thouroughly unpleased. YOu'll be limited, to say the least. You'll, in the worst case scenerio, watching a non-pulldown 3x4 program with "side-bars". (Which is something you'll be dealing with for the most part anyway. Especially if you've done things right and used the newer componet cables.)

Tough decision, I know...but, if you can make the commitment to do it right, and you've got the programming and/or love your DVD's. This is the way to go.

Jump to: Home Audio Forum | Home Video Forum | Home Theater Forum | Car Audio Forum