For a while now, I’ve made a point of highlighting the advantages of 2.35:1 Constant Image Height display in my weekly HD Advisor column here at High-Def Digest. I project onto a 2.35:1 screen in my own home theater. While I’m happy as a projector user, I’ve also kept my eye on the Philips “Cinema 21:9” LCD TV. Now that the company has added 3-D capability to the set, that makes it (for me) by far the most appealing 3-D TV on the market. There’s just one small problem: It’s not sold in North America!
Several months back, I wrote up a post explaining my personal plans for upgrading to 3-D. Long story short: I’m interested, but I don’t expect to replace my projector right away. As such, a 3-D TV will be a secondary display in my home theater. I’ve also decided to hold out until I find a set that meets all of my needs, rather than jump into the 3-D pool too early just to say that I’ve done it. Now that it has 3-D, this Cinema 21:9 set is very appealing to me on a lot of levels. Too bad I’ll probably never get the chance to buy one.
The problem is that the Philips electronics sold here in North America aren’t really Philips products at all. 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 entire Cinema 21:9 line.
Mrs. Z will be glad to hear that it is extremely unlikely that I’d attempt to purchase a large piece of electronics like this from overseas and have it shipped to me here. I don’t want to think about how much that would cost, if it’s even possible at all. My best hope is that the Cinema 21:9 concept catches on enough overseas that some other manufacturer attempts to develop a similar product for sale here.
I don’t quite see the appeal of these tv’s. The content of a 2.35:1 Blu-ray has got less than 1080 horisontal lines, so you don’t lose anything when viewing it on a normal HD tv. The Philips model simply upscale the picture. The only benefit is that all the pixels of your screen is lit when watching 2.35:1 movies.
Seeing as about half of the movies out there are not 2.35:1, and almost no TV shows are, and console gaming is always 4:3 or 16:9, you will instead get vertical black bars on this set. And you will probably get it just as much as you would get horizontal bars on a normal set.
It’s definitely not an all purpose set, but I’d love one of these for dedicated movie watching!
The advantages are primarily aesthetic, not related to resolution. 2.35:1 movies are intended to be projected larger and wider than 1.85:1 movies. The current home video paradigm where letterboxing reduces the size of 2.35:1 movies to be smaller than 1.85:1 is the exact opposite of the artistic intent. It’s a compromise, and it’s a compromise that most people are willing to accept. It’s certainly a hell of a lot better than cropping. But it’s not necessarily the best way to present the movies either.
Constant Image Height is not going to be practical for everyone. If the majority of content you watch is HDTV or games, or other 16:9 material, a 2.35:1 screen is probably a waste. But it’s very appealing to those of us mostly concerned about movies.
I thought Visio had talked about one of these 2.35:1 sets as well…not sure what happened to it. Regardless, the Visio’s quality probably won’t be on par with the Phillips, should it ever be released…