Saturday, May 3, 2008

Stop the HD Stretch

After months of having people hit this page from searches for HD stretch I've decided to add this section. I wrote this for an update post, but that one never took hold with the search engines.

It seems that it is high in the results on Google when you search for... "HD stretch," go figure. Well, if you've reached this site looking for advice I apologize. You may feel heartened that I feel the same way about picture stretching that you probably do. Until the time that I take a deeper look into how to fix the issue, may I suggest the following:
  1. Try a more specific search, such as "brand [and model] hd stretch."
  2. Check your user manual or check if you lost your copy.
  3. Go to the AVS Forums and look around. If you need, ask about your problem there.
I'm sorry I can't be of more help. I hope you find a solution somewhere. If you do, post a comment telling others how. Maybe the next person to stumble by won't have to search as much.

And now, on to the original post...

I bought an HDTV last year. It was the largest entertainment purchase I've ever made. I had high hopes, and they've been met for the most part. HD content, DVDs, and even standard TV all look great. There is one caveat to HD, stretched content.

See, there are people who are willing to pay huge sums to get a better picture on their TV, yet they defy all logic and set the TV to stretch normal content. I was fine with this when I bought the TV, let those people watch 90% of the available content with atrocious distortion and horrible picture quality. I picked a TV that would show 4:3 content in its native aspect ratio, it displays black bars on either side but the actual content looks great.

Unfortunately, the predisposition to stretch content has wormed its way into the media. The more HD channels I watch the more apparent this is. Mostly commercials are stretched, but occasionally it's whole shows. This is unacceptable. Why pay to have HD content delivered only to get low definition content that is distorted to look worse than it originally did? Even when the upsampling is done well, stretching the content makes everything look odd.

What's the point anyway? Why would you sacrifice the image quality just to avoid some black bars? I suggest that these stations develop a tasteful graphic to show in the empty areas. I'd love to see some of them dedicate broadcasts to HD, instead of using the same stream downsampled for standard television. This way they could adjust their graphics, show station identification and show advertisements on the sides while keeping the content at its original quality. Advertisers should use this extra area to deliver more information so that they only have to make one version of the ad.

Happily, I'll never be on television. If I were, I'd hate to imagine myself stretched like that. At least my TV can display 16:9 content in 4:3 aspect, I once thought it was a useless feature


Steve Mount said...

I hate HD stretch. I cannot watch it. My TV does allow me to "unstretch", but it is a pain to have to activate, and I'd rather just move on to the next channel.

Anonymous said...
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Mark in VABeach said...

yeah, TV programmers are pretty idiotic to do this, making perfectly good shows unwatchable. Next channel!