Good fortune allowed me the opportunity to run out and purchase an affordable High Definition TV recently. This HDTV's only claim to fame is that the tuner is built in and it reads and delivers the 1080i resolution that defines “HD. ” Naturally, it's reverse compatible with the old 480p and 720p resolution standards but I didn't have to worry about that, right?
I'll refrain from specifying what I got in detail, only to tell you that it rocks! It's the smartest $750 you can spend in visual entertainment with a 30-inch diagonal and a perfectly flat Cathode Ray Tube that happens to be a pithy 16-inches deep. The manufacturer has labeled this a, “SlimFit” model and rightly so. (At 120 pounds, it's still a team lift, however. )
I get the thing upstairs, unpack it, go through the first time set up and auto program to my new TV's content. The happy surprise is that there are hidden channels your new HD tuner decodes for you! After almost cutting myself on razor-sharp pictures broadcast in proper 1080i HD resolution, I think, “now I'll have some REAL fun and see a DVD like I've never seen it before. ”
In went the goofy adventure of Captain Sparrow, “The Curse of The Black Pearl. ” The kid in me wanted to play with the new toy. . . I was totally silent as I watched the opening scenes in horror: Letter box's black-line haters haven't seen anything yet. All of our beloved DVD's are lacking 100% in the HD category; THEY DON'T MAKE HD DVD's! It is the next big sell!
Remember your record albums? Yeah. Remember buying them on tape? Uh-huh. Remember buying them AGAIN on CD. Yup. Remember seeing that movie you loved in the theater? Uh-huh. Remember buying the DVD version. Your next vivid memory will be cursing your DVD collection for looking awful on your next TV which may well be properly HD compatible meaning loaded with 1080i resolution that your DVD can't keep up with.
Briefly, here's the current method to watch that DVD on a proper HD TV. The TV probably has five settings: 16:9, Panorama, Zoom 1, Zoom 2 and 3:4 picture settings. The first is the HD standard, lovely; and the last is the standard that's phasing out. Everything in the middle is a fatherless child. Standard set shows on 16:9 look stretched left and right. Standard set shows on your 16:9 screen set to 3:4 get the black lines to the left and right. Your standard DVD in letterbox format gets black lines EVERYWHERE: Top, bottom, left and right. The picture is ridiculously small. But mighty sharp!
Your only option? Set the TV to display at Zoom 1 which takes the DVD's 720p and forces 1.5 pixels on your HDTV to try, fruitlessly, to display 1 pixel from the DVD. The result is a jittery, dancing image that will gray any video-phile's hair halfway into the first film. As holidays and birthdays arrive, take care not to build that glorious DVD collection you've always wanted. Change is coming, like it always does. You've been warned.
Bryan Applegate works for Dinarius, Inc. as a private tutor and content provider. As more technology enters his life, he is compelled to write.