TV aspect ratio
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    coaltrain's Avatar
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    TV aspect ratio

    I have some exposure with different aspect ratios dealing with my digital cameras. But I find myself kind of baffled with the newer flat screen TV's.

    I replaced our behemouth 32" CRT type TV with an LCD (LED?) flat screen TV. I hve found the native format for this TV's is 16:9 aspect ratio. The only problem is that my cable TV feed is at 4:3. So to try to get the picure to fill the screen I have to use the zoom feature in the TV. This is OK but doing this I loose a little bit of the top and bottom of the image. This is mostly noticable with a closeup of a person and the top of their head will ve cut off. Or text on the bottom of the screen won't all be visable.

    So why......are the TV's sold now have a different aspect ration than what is broadcast over the cable network? This makes no sense to me.
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    bakerg's Avatar
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    Are you sure you cannot adjust the ratio coming out of the cable box? I can with mine. Check your setup menu on your box.
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    coaltrain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bakerg View Post
    Are you sure you cannot adjust the ratio coming out of the cable box? I can with mine. Check your setup menu on your box.
    I have no cable box.
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    Quote Originally Posted by coaltrain View Post
    I have no cable box.


    If you have no cable box then you have an analog Cable TV system. You've connected a digital TV to that system. I'd contact you cable provider and see if they have a digital alternative to your current setup that doesn't break the bank.

    In most places it's pretty much impossible to get analog cable any more. Those systems are all being phased out.
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    I should also mention that you can set your TV to display in 4:3 aspect ratio. You'll get bars to fill in the screen on both sides but at least the image won't be distorted or chopped off.
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    What you receive over the traditional wire without a converter box is different from provider-to-provider and sometimes different within regions that a particular provider services.

    When everything was converted to pure digital transmission of all TV channels, the cable companies became the "conversion" point from that digital signal to an analog one. Many of them pare down the signal to that of 4:3 because that's predominantly the capability of the sets that are directly connected.

    If you want to take advantage of the aspect ratio of your set, you will need to feed it a signal that contains a picture in that format. You may be able to accomplish this with OTA (over the air) equipment and pick up signals yourself, or you may need a digital converter box from the cable company.

    About a year before the conversion (in mid-2008 ish), the cable companies joined together in a marketing scam letting everyone know that the changeover would not impact anyone, and that no additional equipment would be necessary because of the changeover. They claimed that they were our allies and would do all of the converting for us and continue to feed the signal directly into our televisions just like always. To a very small extent, this was true.

    Then, the TV manufacturers started to include QAM tuners in their televisions that were of excellent quality and could tune in all of the digital channels that were being broadcast right along-side the analog ones over that cable wire. Once the cable companies realized that consumers were able to get HD and widescreen channel formats without having to pay anything additional, they modified the channel lineups and moved ALL of the "better" channels to digital channels that could not be tuned by the sets directly and forced everyone to start renting their equipment to get these channels.
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    Quote Originally Posted by meburdick View Post
    About a year before the conversion (in mid-2008 ish), the cable companies joined together in a marketing scam letting everyone know that the changeover would not impact anyone, and that no additional equipment would be necessary because of the changeover. They claimed that they were our allies and would do all of the converting for us and continue to feed the signal directly into our televisions just like always. To a very small extent, this was true.

    Then, the TV manufacturers started to include QAM tuners in their televisions that were of excellent quality and could tune in all of the digital channels that were being broadcast right along-side the analog ones over that cable wire. Once the cable companies realized that consumers were able to get HD and widescreen channel formats without having to pay anything additional, they modified the channel lineups and moved ALL of the "better" channels to digital channels that could not be tuned by the sets directly and forced everyone to start renting their equipment to get these channels.
    That's a lotta tinfoil hat stuff there....
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimR View Post
    That's a lotta tinfoil hat stuff there....
    No. It's factual. That is exactly how it progressed. You can label it "conspiracy theory" stuff all you want, but it's real. It took some cable companies longer than others to make the final switches, but all systems out there now absolutely require consumers to have a box for the better quality channels. It was all done very much on purpose so that the cable providers wouldn't lose revenue.

    Comcast "gave away" converter boxes here a few years ago and then decided that they were going to add a service charge onto the bill last year for using what was essentially your own equipment to access the programming. It's quite the racket.
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    Quote Originally Posted by meburdick View Post
    No. It's factual. That is exactly how it progressed. You can label it "conspiracy theory" stuff all you want, but it's real. It took some cable companies longer than others to make the final switches, but all systems out there now absolutely require consumers to have a box for the better quality channels. It was all done very much on purpose so that the cable providers wouldn't lose revenue.

    Comcast "gave away" converter boxes here a few years ago and then decided that they were going to add a service charge onto the bill last year for using what was essentially your own equipment to access the programming. It's quite the racket.
    No, it isn't factual. It's paranoia.

    About a year before the conversion (in mid-2008 ish), the cable companies joined together in a marketing scam letting everyone know that the changeover would not impact anyone, and that no additional equipment would be necessary because of the changeover. They claimed that they were our allies and would do all of the converting for us and continue to feed the signal directly into our televisions just like always. To a very small extent, this was true.
    There was no "marketing scam" with this. The FCC was warning people that they needed to buy a digital converter box and reminding them that there were limited numbers of the $30 rebate coupons available on those boxes. The day those boxes became available people were running down to Best Buy and buying 4 or 5 of them at a time. Then they'd bring them home and connect them to their TV and connect their cable feed to the box. After 30 minutes of playing with them they'd call their cable company complaining that they didn't work.

    The cable companies, as well as the FCC. put out ads telling people (correctly) that the ATSC tuner boxes were only needed for OTA programming and that *IF* they had cable service, they didn't need the boxes because the cable companies were already doing the conversions.

    I'd challenge you to find one single ad from ANY cable company telling people that the changeover wouldn't affect anyone. That never happened. What they *DID* say was that the change-over to digital TV wouldn't affect THEIR cable customers that had analog TVs - and they were 100% right.

    Then, the TV manufacturers started to include QAM tuners in their televisions that were of excellent quality and could tune in all of the digital channels that were being broadcast right along-side the analog ones over that cable wire.
    Again, more nonsense. And you're mixing terms here that don't work together. Try as you might, you can't send digital channels on the same wire as analog channels. No cable company has even tried to do this. Perhaps you are confusing HD with SD?

    Once the cable companies realized that consumers were able to get HD and widescreen channel formats without having to pay anything additional, they modified the channel lineups and moved ALL of the "better" channels to digital channels that could not be tuned by the sets directly and forced everyone to start renting their equipment to get these channels.
    A "channel" has a specific meaning. Each and every channel is assigned to specific carrier frequencies - by the FCC for OTA broadcasts and by each cable company for their systems. Each channel can only contain "X" number of broadcasts. Typically that'd be "1" for analog channels, "2" for Digital HD broadcasts and "4" for digital SD broadcasts.

    Cable companies didn't put "better" channels on "digital channels". Digital channels created the ability to HAVE higher channels. If we were all still on analog cable system we would't have the ability to get 900+ channels. You can't shove that much data down an analog line. Most of the HD channels as well as "new" channels were put farther up in the channel count because they could do that without having to interrupt every single subscribers channel line up every time they added a broadcast.

    As a part of the original FCC mandated conversion to digital, the Cable companies were mandated to provide unencrypted digital channels (aka "Clear-QAM) for a 4-year period. (That only applied to cable carriers - it didn't apply to FIOS or Sat. systems). That mandate required that they provide digital versions of the basic broadcast channels, (i.e. ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, PBS) and local public-access channels. The mandate expired in 2013 and the FCC chose not to renew it. Most cable companies chose to start encrypting all their digital broadcasts and THAT is why your Clear-QAM tuner no longer works.

    So there was no great cable-TV conspiracy. All of that was known the day the Digital Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005 was passed into law.
    Last edited by JimR; 08-05-2015 at 07:33 PM.
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    The FCC never told "everyone" that they needed a box. They correctly stated that boxes would be necessary for those customers using antennas to receive their programming. As usual, the overly technical discussion presented to the public caused widespread confusion about what was really needed. The cable companies stepped in and ran ads as a group telling THEIR CUSTOMERS (because the ads were NOT run OTA) that 'everyone' would not be impacted.

    I have had a number of televisions with QAM tuners in them that can tune a digital station (101.6 as a generic example). I would suggest that YOU learn more about QAM, digital channels, and their ability to be sent down a standard cable wire: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QAM_%28television%29

    Everything that the digital converter boxes do is based on receiving a digital signal from the cable company over - guess what? - the standard cable wire. HD and widescreen format stations are not broadcast over the wire in an analog format. If they were, you'd have pixelation and similar issue with both the audio and video signals all the time.

    -I- call it all a scam because the cable companies came out and made a promise to the public and then broke that promise, installed fees, and hiked rates because too many consumers found ways to NOT have to pay the cable companies for things that they wanted.
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