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Upconvert and Widescreen explaination

Forums - General Chat - Upconvert and Widescreen explaination 


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Thanks a load Chris! I'm thinking I will have to hold out until I can afford an LCD HD 60inch TV Happy
Thanks Chris, I learned a couple of things from that which I was a bit unclear on too! Happy
Where to begin...

'Up-converting' or 'up-scaling' players take a standard definition 480i/576i line image and interpolate it up to 720p/1080i/1080p, depending on the model. Whether you notice a difference depends largely on the quality of the scaler in your TV, but generally I always trust dedicated hardware more than something built into a TV.

Obviously up-converted DVD will never look as good as high-def, because the extra resolution just isn't there to begin with. However, many players do a good job of up-scaling to provide a very pleasing image from normal viewing distances. If you sit on top of the TV you will notice the flaws, but from around ten feet away some up-converted transfers can look almost as good as their high-def counterparts. Obviously high-def stands up to scrutiny at much closer viewing distances.

Widescreen TVs have a ratio of 16:9, which is approximately 1.78:1. Anything wider than that will have 'black bars' (letterboxing), so pretty much every film you own. 4:3 (1.33:1) images will have 'black bars' at the sides (pillarboxing). You can get rid of the black by using the zoom controls on your TV, but that will severely distort the image and is not recommended.

Okay, so this is where it gets a bit confusing. There are some circumstances where you won't see 'black bars' for all movies wider than 1.78:1. For example, say your HD TV only has a resolution of 1366x768 it will support 720p, which is 1280x720. High-def (both BD and HD) movies are generally encoded at 1080p, which is 1920x1080. In order to fit your 720p compatible display the image will need to be scaled and this introduces overscan that hides picture information. So, the majority of 1.85:1 movies will not have 'black bars', but you'll be missing some information on all four sides.

However, if you have a 1080 line compatible set (which have resolutions of 1920x1080) you can usually engage some sort of 1:1 pixel mapping function that will show you the whole of the 1080 line image, 'black bars' and all. This is the preferred method of displaying images, because there's no scaling. Whether the set is 1080i or 1080p compatible should be irrelevant.

If by 'the advantage of 16:9' you mean anamorphic enhancement, it's basically a method used to allow standard definition DVDs to use all available lines of resolution. Explaining it here would take too long, but I've written a number of articles on the subjects of widescreen and the like for this site.

So, in short, it depends on what TV and player you decide to get. It's also worth mentioning that standard TV will overscan by quite some way, so you'll often see that logos are cut off and other bits of info are missing. If you have a 1080 line TV and feed it with a 1080 line source you can get rid of the overscan, but that's not very common at the moment (at least not in the UK).
Upconvert and Widescreen explaination
OK, in the process of upgrading my hometheater equipment in the next few months. I had some questions that I figured someone around here would know.

These new players that are billed as "upconvert", are they worth a purchase? I don't want to go with either new technology until the dust settles on the war. But, I am in the process of upgrading to an HD television set, so I want to take advantage of that without going with either new format. These upconvert players seem to fit that bill, but do they really upconvert enough to make you see a difference?

Last question, the widescreen TV's. Excuse my ignorance on this, but I want to be sure I understand something about them. How does the ratio work when you purchase widescreen movies and view them on a widescreen TV set? Do you get the bars like you do on a normal TV, also, what is the advantage of 16x9 on a widescreen TV?