One of the key tensions in my relationship with Xy has to do with television. To put it bluntly, she’s for it and I’m against it. I long ago gave up the battle to keep television out of our home, but at least we don’t pay for cable or satellite. We get our TV off the air for free. We switched to digital when our old TV got flooded, and we’ve been enjoying high-definition broadcasts ever since.
I use the term “enjoying” advisedly. I’m just enough of a video geek to think the whole technical aspect of getting high definition signals off the air is cool. I can watch a crappy TV show and still marvel at the gorgeousity of the image.
I was mildly horrified when Xy got a portable TV for our kitchen, but that’s another battle I’ve given up on. Her little $16 set will be made obsolete by the impending digital transition. So as a token of my undying love for her and my boundless magnanimity, I decided to get her a portable digital TV for Xmas. Who else can condescend so nicely?
Only problem, as anyone who’s shopped for such a product knows: It’s slim pickings. Portable digital TVs? I could only find three on the market, and they all cost a lot more than $16.
Ultimately I sprang for the Coby TF-TV791 7″. It arrived a couple weeks ago, and since we don’t believe in delayed gratification, it’s been deployed on our kitchen counter ever since.
It works pretty well. The reception is a little funny, as we can get some stations better than with our main TV downstairs, but others are worse. Xy’s just impressed that it’s in color.
There is one major glaring problem.
I’m going to need an illustration to make this clear. Bear with me.
A tip of the hat to the talented Jon Rawlinson for sharing this high definition video frame under a Creative Commons Attribution license.
The top image shows a 16:9 high-definition video frame in its proper aspect ratio. This is how HD video should look on a widescreen TV.
The middle image shows how HD video looks on our Coby in 16:9 mode. Note the black bars on top and bottom. As a rule you shouldn’t see bars on top and bottom on a widescreen TV. Note also that the video image is scrunched down, vertically compressed.
The bottom image shows how HD video looks on our Coby in 4:3 mode. Note that the image is no longer scrunched. It is actually displaying in its proper aspect ratio, but it’s not filling the screen as it should. Something is way wrong here.
I’ve written a note to Coby about this:
I recently purchased your TF-TV791 as a Xmas gift for my wife.
It works well except for one technical issue which is frustrating me.
The set displays 4:3 standard definition video quite well. However, it has a problem with 16:9 high-definition video.
I am of course aware of how to switch back and forth between the 4:3 and 16:9 modes using the remote. The problem is that high-definition video is simply not displayed properly. There are black bars at the top and bottom of the screen when viewing a high-definition signal.
As a general rule, there should not be black bars on a widescreen TV when viewing widescreen video. I’ve been able to check the same broadcast on our larger Panasonic television and verify that the signal properly fills the screen without stretching.
Therefore I can only conclude the problem is with the TF-TV791 unit. Is there some way to correct this problem?
I wonder if they’ll get back to me.