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Interesting TV experience last night
Old 12-29-2008, 10:17 PM   #1
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Interesting TV experience last night

Okay, I don't watch much TV, but last night I was watching Nature on our local PBS station. After a bit, I noticed that the picture looked wrong. I couldn't decide what, just wrong. Then, the credits came on and I realized that I was missing part of the image on both sides. The show ended, and the picture looked good again, until Prime Suspect came on with the same distortion.

I don't have HD, and because of the hills here you have to have cable or something. I have directv. So, I called them and after phone tree hell, spoke to a human who blamed the local station for sending the wrong feed?

This morning, I called the PBS local station to see what was going on. Turns out that PBS sends the local station several feeds for each show. In my case, the regular feed had some problems, and so to put out a picture, the local station had just put the HD feed out as the regular broadcast. And, that was why the image was off.

However, the person at the PBS station advised that there was pressure from PBS nationally to put out the HD feed all the time, and anyway things would get upset in Feb. when they stopped analog broadcasts.

There have been lots of comments about this change, and that if you have cable, or sat. you have nothing to do. However, it seems to me that if all they put out is letter box, I am either going to be missing the sides, or stuck with that black stripe on the top and bottom.

Verizon just finished putting the fiber optic lines in, so I may be going that route.
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Old 12-29-2008, 11:24 PM   #2
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I don't know about HD or not, but for the last several months I, too, have noticed shows and movies where a good 10-20% of the image is missing on either side. This is a new thing. There's not a 'black stripe' option in these cases (which would be OK w/me).

We have a private dish satellite Non-HD subscription in Europe (SKY).
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Old 12-30-2008, 09:10 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveL View Post
Okay, I don't watch much TV, but last night I was watching Nature on our local PBS station. After a bit, I noticed that the picture looked wrong. I couldn't decide what, just wrong. Then, the credits came on and I realized that I was missing part of the image on both sides. The show ended, and the picture looked good again, until Prime Suspect came on with the same distortion.

I don't have HD, and because of the hills here you have to have cable or something. I have directv. So, I called them and after phone tree hell, spoke to a human who blamed the local station for sending the wrong feed?

This morning, I called the PBS local station to see what was going on. Turns out that PBS sends the local station several feeds for each show. In my case, the regular feed had some problems, and so to put out a picture, the local station had just put the HD feed out as the regular broadcast. And, that was why the image was off.

However, the person at the PBS station advised that there was pressure from PBS nationally to put out the HD feed all the time, and anyway things would get upset in Feb. when they stopped analog broadcasts.

There have been lots of comments about this change, and that if you have cable, or sat. you have nothing to do. However, it seems to me that if all they put out is letter box, I am either going to be missing the sides, or stuck with that black stripe on the top and bottom.

Verizon just finished putting the fiber optic lines in, so I may be going that route.
I'm not an expert on this but I had the same problem a few years ago and discovered that the problem was my own doing. Apparently I hit a button on the remote that changed the "aspect" of the screen. It might depend on the age of your TV as to whether or not you have this feature. Read your owners manual. There are people on other threads that sound very knowledgable on TV's, cable and sat feeds, DVR's etc.
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Old 12-30-2008, 10:24 AM   #4
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My TV has a "format" button that switches between 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratio. There is also a zoom and expand setting that lets you watch 4:3 in 16:9 ratio.

Your show was probably broadcast in 16:9 so it got squished onto your TV. Sometimes you can get it to fit, and get the black bars on the top and bottom.
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Old 12-30-2008, 02:12 PM   #5
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My TV has a "format" button that switches between 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratio. There is also a zoom and expand setting that lets you watch 4:3 in 16:9 ratio.

Your show was probably broadcast in 16:9 so it got squished onto your TV. Sometimes you can get it to fit, and get the black bars on the top and bottom.
All three of our HD TV's have aspect ratio adjustments you make with the remote. Want to see a real mess is hit the dual screen or split screen button by mistake. DW did it and I walked by and saw the screen was only using 1/2 of the screen - the rest was blank. It was very watchable - if you like looking at 18 inches of your 36 inch screen. The TV was a tad new and it took me a few minutes to find the button to switch it back to "full screen". This stuff is getting too complicated - what happended to the old plain "on/off" switch.
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Old 12-30-2008, 02:18 PM   #6
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[quote=OAG;765684The TV was a tad new and it took me a few minutes to find the button to switch it back to "full screen". This stuff is getting too complicated - what happended to the old plain "on/off" switch.[/quote]

I like the button for adjusting screen sizes. Gets rid of the annoying creepy crawly message gizmo (i think they call it a chiron?) display on the bottom of the various news channels.

DW frequently screws up the picture, when she is fully stumped, she calls me for the solution. As in HELP!!!!
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Old 12-30-2008, 02:31 PM   #7
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A friend who uses rabbit ears recently installed the converter box ($16 on sale after the $40 coupon). He said the image is noticeably better already.
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Old 12-31-2008, 10:06 AM   #8
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My old analog TV (37") doesn't have any aspect adjustments. And, the converter box won't work with the sat. since they have their own box to decompress and decode their signal.

As a member of the frugal club, I've been putting off getting a new set. I guess we will have to see what Feb. brings......
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Old 12-31-2008, 12:20 PM   #9
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My old analog TV (37") doesn't have any aspect adjustments. And, the converter box won't work with the sat. since they have their own box to decompress and decode their signal.

As a member of the frugal club, I've been putting off getting a new set. I guess we will have to see what Feb. brings......
If you are on satellite, what is the significance of February to you? It is only the Over-The-Air (regular old antenna) broadcasts that change that day.

-ERD50
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Old 12-31-2008, 01:36 PM   #10
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Excuse to buy a new TV?
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Old 12-31-2008, 02:42 PM   #11
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The confusion will be enhanced. A lot of programming that is sent via the HD format is still the old standard. Old movies, commercials etc made with the standard format yet sent on a HD channel will look crappy.

Just because the info button shows HD does not mean it is in fact HD format. Add to that 720p, 1080i, 1080p, the poor viewer won't know what think. Most new TVs will decode all formats.

Recently visiting DW's daughter, she complained of crappy looking HD programs. I looked at the Comcast receiver's output her TV, I found that the highly competent moron from Comcast, connected the RF output of the Comcast decoder to the RF input of her TV.

Talk about signal degradation due to mutiple conversions. She in fact had an HDMI cable (She got ripped off on that in terms of price) which the Comcast dude refused to hook up. He did connect the Y/Pb/Pr cables, but did not select that as video input.

So, I disconnected the RF feed, connected Comcast's decoder to her TV via HDMI, set input selector on TV HDMI. She nearly fainted looking at the great picture. Which by the way is still crappy compared to direct reception of an HD channel. Nevertheless she does not know any better, and is happy with the current state of video quality.

The old geezer (me) can still solve puzzles
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Old 12-31-2008, 03:57 PM   #12
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Can anyone comment on the relative quality of HD signals via:

A) Over-The-Air (OTA) antenna (we can get all the CHicago stations with our attic TV).

B) Cable, I understand they are required to 'pass through' the local stations in HD, and with a modern TV you can get those w/o their converter box.

from wiki:

QAM tuner - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Quote:
QAM-based HD programming of local stations is sometimes available to analog cable subscribers, without paying the additional fees for a digital cable box. The availability of QAM HD programming is rarely described or publicized in cable company product literature. If cable providers provide rebroadcasts of locally aired programming, they must also carry rebroadcasts of high-definition digital locally aired programming, in an unencrypted form, that does not require the customer to use leased equipment, per FCC Sec. 76.630 and CFR Title 47, 76.901(a). These usually include the local affiliates for CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, and FOX, and the cable providers comply by rebroadcasting them over QAM channels. The law does not require the cable provider to advertise their availability, and the cable customer service representatives are known to unequivocally (and incorrectly) insist to customers that a converter box is mandatory to view any HD channels.
C) Satellite?

Follow up Q on "B" - the in-laws get Comcast cable in their retirement condo. The family gave them a Vizio LCD-TV last year, and it gets all the local stations in HD (2.1, 5.1, 7.1, 11.1 etc). Info button shows them getting 780p or 1080i and the pic looks very, very good. But, a Samsung LN-T2342H they bought earlier for the other room doesn't get any of those stations. I get conflicting info on the web - some people say they get them, but that might vary with the cable provider?

And - how do you know if your cable service is analog or digital? Are they talking about providing digital content, or is the signal actually digitized in some way. The terminology gets confusing, while we pick up 'digital HD' OTA, that is an 'analog' signal coming down the antenna wire - that analog signal contains digitally encoded info for digital stations, and analog info for analog stations.

I'm going to write Samsung about the TV - some sites ref a QAM tuner, some don't - kinda fishy?


So yes, this gets complex!

-ERD50
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