Stupid people and HDTVs

I’m sure many of you have noticed the great, ironic unintended consequence of the proliferation of HDTVs. As people get them, the picture quality of their regular television viewing drops dramatically. Why? Because while HD for some reason has been packaged with a new widescreen aspect ratio, most television content is still in standard definition, and fullscreen. Thus, the monied dullards buying these new TVs set them to warp the old software, distorting it to an unwatchable state.

Naturally, a sane person should find images of people stretched and squashed much more offensive than the corrective black bars that would be on either side the picture. So I can’t imagine what the hell is going through so many of these people’s heads as they sit there happily watching their favorite programs on their expensive new TVs completely distorted. Almost everybody over 30 who I’ve seen with an HDTV (i.e., every HDTV setup I’ve ever seen except for mine) does this. And then everybody else gathers around grandpa’s TV like they don’t even notice. And they were watching football! It’s football - Thanksgiving football - I know there’s an HD feed for it! That’s what they used to advertise HDTVs for.

Perhaps smart people don’t let you into their house to watch TV.

I know I don’t and I’m WAY over 30.

Your beef would be with the HDTV makers who make the setup interface with the TV difficult to understand, wouldn’t it? Why would anyone pit people who are nice enough to let them watch their TV, even if it is configured wrong? Why not explain to them what is wrong, rather than calling them stupid?

May I, as an HDTV ignoramus, have some of my ignorance fought?

Is there some switch that lets you flip back and forth to accomodate whatever type of broadcast you are watching?

And what percentage of TV is HD? I thought we were supposed to be fully converted by 2006.

My HDTV has just such a button. If I’m watching a standard broadcast, I can choose to either watch it with black panels on the side, stretch it to fit the 16:9 screen, or zoom to fill the screen.

I usually choose to stretch it. I don’t have to, but I prefer it.

I don’t have significant experience of HDTV, and i don’t own one myself. But the people i know who do have it seem to have no trouble going back and forth as appropriate.

The last two summers, i’ve stayed in a friend’s place in New York for a couple of weeks. They have a widescreen plasma HDTV, and it’s controlled by a Logitech Harmony remote. Changing between proper widescreen and regular 4:3 viewing on the remote is very simple—just a matter of pushing a button.

Also, here is a recent SDMB discussion on the general topic of HDTVs.

I have been going thru these same issues of aspect ratio myself. On top of that regular tv is broadcast in very low quality which my lcd hdtv makes abundantly clear.

My hdtv has several choices for aspect ratio including 4:3 (regular) 16:9 (widescreen) and several zoom levels. I can set it to auto and then it changes aspect ratio automatically to best deal with the picture. If it makes a mistake I can switch manually to the aspect ratio I want. There is a button on the remote that switches this directly so I do not have to go in the menu.

One thing I have been noticing is that some high def channels put their logo just outside of the picture. The forces black bars to come up to accomodate this and it is not possible to get to a full 16:9 picture. So it is not just owners of a new technology that are “stupid.”

Yes, but most widescreen compatible sources can be set to work in conjunction with HDTVs to automatically output in whatever aspect ratio (and resolution) the material is supposed to be in. Bad sources make you do it manually through the TV (like the Wii).

You are confusing high-definition television (HDTV) with digital television (DTV) All new tuners were supposed to be DTV-compatible last spring, but even that has not happened.

That never happens. Bugs end up outside of the picture as a convenience, when the DTV broadcast is still in standard definition and 4:3. Or even in HD and 4:3, like the past Sunday’s “King of the Hill”. In those cases, the bars come courtesy the broadcaster, rather than the set itself, and so the network can give us an unobstructed picture while still advertising their network.

The main problem is that the average person that can afford a nice HD set is beyond the age range of understanding the mechanics of HDTV, which are more complicated, arcane, and still different from set to set than previous generations of televisions.

The other problem is that a standard def broadcast - which is all most people can get unless they’ve specifically subscribed to an expensive HD package - looks like complete balls at ANY of the settings.

But yeah, this past Christmas, you should have seen the way my relatives, who were proudly showing off their new HDTV (hooked up with composite cables, at that :smack: ), reacted when I showed them how to tune in to the actual HD broadcasts on their cable package. :eek: :eek: :eek:

Aw man, looks like I’m late (FTR, that thread’s not on the general topic of HDTVs, it’s on this topic in particular).

Ah, that’s where my confusion was. Thanks to you – and everyone else – for the 411.

VC03, you voiced what I feared, in that getting an HDTV might actually be worse than not getting one.

Mine goes back and forth automatically.

Why did you buy an HD TV? Clearly image quality does not matter to you if you tolerate gross distortions of the image.

Can you override it?

Am I missing something? When we got an HDTV, I was surprised by the amount of programming broadcast in HD. I was expecting much less. Maybe I got lucky with what I tend to watch.

possibly the only person you know who has an HDTV and no cable or other paid packages.

A few quibbles.

Not all HDTVs are complicated to set up. I recently bought a Sony Bravia and had no difficulty doing what I needed to do to get it working. Maybe I’m just less technically challenged than the average 53 year old. :cool:

Standard definition broadcasts look better on my HDTV than on any of my other sets.

My HD package costs me $15 per month.

Wow, are those fighting words. I am honoured to even be allowed to participate with younger and therefore more knowledgable geeks. The only problem is my kids (18 and 21 years old) keep coming to me to fix their computers when they don’t work any more, and they can’t seem to get the hang of a universal remote. On the other hand they do have social lives.