HD Advisor 74 and Counting

Posted Fri Sep 10, 2010 at 11:30 AM PDT by

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Answers by Joshua Zyber

Philips Cinema 21:9 HDTV

Q: After multiple HD Advisor columns pertaining to the subject of Constant Image Height Projection, I'm now confused regarding the capabilities of this new Philips 21:9 TV that's being released in Europe. Specifically, does this TV somehow "un-squeeze" the image from a non-anamorphically enhanced scope Blu-ray disc, or does this TV simply proportionately zoom in on the image, thereby ever eliminating the need to 21:9 anamorphically enhanced discs? Also, what's the reason for not releasing it in the U.S.?

A: As you know, almost all HDTVs have a 16:9 (1.78:1) aspect ratio. This new Philips "Cinema 21:9" TV (available only in Europe) has a wider ratio and is intended for Constant Image Height display. (See my earlier tutorial on the subject.)

The DVD format uses a form of anamorphic enhancement to maximize the resolution of standard-def content for display on a 16:9 screen. All NTSC DVDs are encoded at a resolution of 720x480 pixels, whether the content is 4:3 in aspect ratio or wider. (PAL resolution is 720x576.) You'll note that 720 divided by 480 yields a mathematical sum of 1.5, which is neither the same as 4:3 (1.33:1) or 16:9 (1.78:1). That's because DVD uses non-square pixels. An anamorphically enhanced DVD is mastered in a "squeezed" format that will return to correct geometric proportion when "unsqueezed" (or horizontally stretched) by the 16:9 TV.

On the other hand, there is no anamorphic enhancement on Blu-ray. Blu-ray video is natively 16:9 in aspect ratio, with a resolution of 1920x1080 square pixels. Any movie content wider than 1.78:1 must be letterboxed within the 16:9 pixel grid. Anything narrower must be pillarboxed on the sides. The format has no squeezing or stretching.

The Philips Cinema 21:9 TV has a pixel resolution of 2560x1080. The set has two modes for watching the 1920x1080 content on a 16:9 Blu-ray disc. First, you can choose to zoom the picture, which will cut off the letterbox bars on a wide movie and upconvert the central portion of the image (approximately 1920x800 pixels) to fill the 2560x1080 screen. This is a proportional zoom, without any squeezing or stretching. If the Blu-ray content you're watching happens to be 16:9 in aspect ratio without letterboxing, you can also display that at its native 1920x1080 pixels, pillarboxed in the center of the 21:9 screen.

As for why this set is not available in the U.S., that's because Philips actually withdrew from the North American market a couple years ago, and sold its branding to Funai. Any TV, DVD player, or other gear you can buy here with the Philips label on it is really a Funai piece of equipment. The real, original Philips continues to develop and market its own products for the rest of the world, just not for us. Among the items we're denied is the Cinema 21:9 line.

Audio/Video Sync Issues

Q: I'm experiencing an apparently uncommon A/V sync issue with my home theater setup – the video arrives just AHEAD of the audio. I know most people have the reverse problem, where the audio arrives before the video. Now, those people have nothing to worry about because almost all A/V receivers come with an audio delay feature, but what do I do? There's no video delay capability on my receiver. I've researched online, asked people in stores, and not one person seems to have this issue or have any idea how to fix it. As for my equipment, I have a cable box and a Blu-ray player, both of which are fed through my Onkyo TX-SR705 receiver, via HDMI, to my Epson ProCinema 9500 UB projector. Both the BD player and cable box experience this sync problem, though it seems worse while watching cable.

A: As you note, most problems with a/v sync come down to a matter of the audio arriving ahead of the video. Any time a video signal needs to be deinterlaced, scaled, or otherwise processed (such as by adding "MotionFlow" frame interpolation), that video signal is delayed momentarily. Sometimes, that allows the audio to jump ahead of it, which causes visible sync issues. When this happens, most home theater receivers offer manual audio delay functions that you can use to re-sync the two streams.

Video arriving ahead of the audio is much less common. In fact, my first suggestion to you is to make sure that this is actually what's happening in your system. While bad sync can be very distracting, our human perception of which sense precedes the other is often easily confused. You'll have to pay very close attention to the content to be sure which is coming first. The 'Digital Video Essentials' calibration disc also has a test pattern to gauge a/v sync.

With that said, I found an FAQ thread on AVSForum where other users have reported a/v sync issues with the Onkyo TX-SR705 receiver. The first post in the thread states that, "Lip sync is a problem with all these new Onkyo receivers in this series, including the higher priced models." That would seem to validate your experience. The post also offers suggestions for settings that can minimize or correct the problem. Read through that, and hopefully it will offer you some relief. Good luck.

Homework Assignment: You Be the Advisor

The HD Advisor knows many things, but he doesn't know everything. Some questions are best answered with a consensus of opinions from our readers. If you can help to answer the following question, please post your response in our forum thread linked at the end of this article. Your advice and opinions matter too!

Shadow Artifacts on LCD TV Screen

Q: My 18-month old 47" Vizio TV had developed "shadows," for lack of a better term. The first started out as an extremely elongated triangle towards the right side of the screen about 4" long and less than an inch wide at it's widest. Then recently a slightly crooked line has formed about 3" to the left of the "triangle" all the way down the screen that is less than ½-inch wide. It appears like it is on the "outside" of the screen and therefore not a pixel problem. What could be causing it, and more importantly is this an issue that will cost as much to fix as replacing the TV?

Check back soon for another round of answers. Keep those questions coming.

Joshua Zyber's opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of this site, its owners or employees.

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