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Cable box stretches SD content?

mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
Just curious if this is normal. I recently got an HD box (to take advantage of our HD TV, now that they don't charge extra for it) and it's fantastic...except that on all SD channels it stretches the picture to the 16:9 stream. Why the fuck would they have it do this, is it normal, and does anybody have a cable box that allows them to stop this affront to God and nature?

Any ideas on a solution?

It'd be nice if my TV could fix the issue, but it can't...when it sees an HDMI signal, it assumes the aspect ratio is correct and doesn't allow you to change it to 4:3 (on Composite, on the other hand, it does).

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    ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    What cable box and TV do you have? Maybe there is something buried in the instruction manual we can find.

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    mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    What cable box and TV do you have? Maybe there is something buried in the instruction manual we can find.

    Olevia 237-T12. I don't think there will be anything there (I've looked).

    Cable box is from Bresnan, it's a...TDC778X?

    Don't know the make.

    I've already searched through the menus and what not. At this point I'm more just curious if this is the norm or not, or if my box just sucks.

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    SideshowxelaSideshowxela Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    It's usually something you can change in the settings. I know with my cable box, you have to turn the power off, then you can go in the menu and change the options around. I think it's under something like "480i upconvert:" and the options are like "Stretch", and "480p". I assume right now you're on Stretch, so just try out the other options and see what it gives you. That is, if getting to your menu is the same.

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    mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    It's usually something you can change in the settings. I know with my cable box, you have to turn the power off, then you can go in the menu and change the options around. I think it's under something like "480i upconvert:" and the options are like "Stretch", and "480p". I assume right now you're on Stretch, so just try out the other options and see what it gives you. That is, if getting to your menu is the same.

    Yeah, because the first thing I'd think about is some secret menu that can only be accessed when the power is off. :P

    That's what I needed, thanks! Poking through it seems like it's just a matter of enabling the 480p mode. By default, the box is set up to only output 1080i. Alternately, you can set it to auto-pillarbox (for 480i/480p content) but that's a pain when you run into SD content that's letterboxed (makes it so you can't just do the 16:9 cropping with my TV).

    I'll have to fuck around with the settings a bit to get it where I want it, but at least now I know it's possible. I was going to fall back to using the composite output (and programming a button on my Harmony remote to switch from composite to HDMI depending if I'm on an SD or HD channel) but that was adding just a smidge too much complexity for the wife.

    EDIT: I figure just using 480p mode, and then having my TV set to pillarbox 480p content by default, is the most intuitive way to go. Then if she sees letterboxing as well (the old "postage stamp" picture) she can just know to switch to the 16:9 zoom. This gets it down to one button to fuck with. Part of the problem is my TV, which has the least intuitive names for these zoom/aspect-ratio settings...pillarboxing is called "Aspect" and 16:9 zoom (on 4:3 SD content) is called "Zoom 2." Real descriptive, fucktards.

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    ElJeffeElJeffe Roaming the streets, waving his mod gun around.Moderator, ClubPA Mod Emeritus
    edited November 2008
    I actually prefer the postage stamp to zooming in on a letterboxed+pillarboxed image. When you zoom in, it generally looks like someone smeared Vaseline all over the picture and then swallowed it and then vomited it back up again and also punched you in the head so you can't focus properly. Shitty, tiny pictures weren't made to be seen in 1080p glory.

    And speaking of shitty cable boxes, my old one was like your in that the aspect ratio and resolution settings were on a secret menu. And also the box was stupid and couldn't properly perform the HDCP handshake over HDMI unless it was set to an HD resolution. And the box, of course, defaulted to 480i.

    So what happened was, you'd turn on the box, you'd get a half second of the service menu, then the screen would go black. During that half second, you had to memorize the layout of the menu so you could navigate, blind, to the proper setting and change the resolution. And also, it reset the settings when the unit was unplugged, so every time we had a power outage or needed to shuffle electronics we got to do the Retarded Monkey Cable Box Tango again.

    ElJeffe on
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    mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    I actually prefer the postage stamp to zooming in on a letterboxed+pillarboxed image. When you zoom in, it generally looks like someone smeared Vaseline all over the picture and then swallowed it and then vomited it back up again and also punched you in the head so you can't focus properly. Shitty, tiny pictures weren't made to be seen in 1080p glory.

    It's a tough choice for me. It is true that letterboxed SD content, particularly low-bitrate content, looks like dogshit when blown up to 37". I guess at the end of the day though the giant sea of black around the image just bugs me. Really, though, I'm almost at the point where I generally resort to other means for shows on channels that my cable company doesn't offer in HD. Whether it's a 720p/AC3 version played through my computer into the VGA/optical connection, or a 640x352 or so version with stereo MP3 sound played through my Xbox, either way it just looks a fuckload better on the large screen.

    Though now thankfully a majority of the shows we watch that aren't on HD channels for us are available on hulu anyway, so we just go that route (using VGA/optical) instead of the less savory methods. Sure their 480p streams aren't nearly as sexy as the 720p versions available elsewhere, but they're free (legally) and look just fine blown up as well.

    Thank god for wireless mice and/or Wii remotes.
    And speaking of shitty cable boxes, my old one was like your in that the aspect ratio and resolution settings were on a secret menu. And also the box was stupid and couldn't properly perform the HDCP handshake over HDMI unless it was set to an HD resolution. And the box, of course, defaulted to 480i.

    So what happened was, you'd turn on the box, you'd get a half second of the service menu, then the screen would go black. During that half second, you had to memorize the layout of the menu so you could navigate, blind, to the proper setting and change the resolution. And also, it reset the settings when the unit was unplugged, so every time we had a power outage or needed to shuffle electronics we got to do the Retarded Monkey Cable Box Tango again.

    What the fuck is with abusive cable boxes? I think honestly the lack of competition (generally you're stuck with whatever box your cable company offers) is a huge issue here, because I can't imagine that given a more competitive marketplace this is the best shit we could offer.

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    ElJeffeElJeffe Roaming the streets, waving his mod gun around.Moderator, ClubPA Mod Emeritus
    edited November 2008
    mcdermott wrote: »
    It's a tough choice for me. It is true that letterboxed SD content, particularly low-bitrate content, looks like dogshit when blown up to 37".

    Imagine it at 50". You can feel each blocky pixel hate-fucking your eyeball.
    What the fuck is with abusive cable boxes? I think honestly the lack of competition (generally you're stuck with whatever box your cable company offers) is a huge issue here, because I can't imagine that given a more competitive marketplace this is the best shit we could offer.

    There's a nominal amount of competition given the choice between cable and satellite, but most of the competition there happens in the realms of price and programming features. But yeah, I wish you could buy your own box.

    ElJeffe on
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    JragghenJragghen Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Since AT&T moved in with fiber optic, cable has been severely stepping up their Internet package bandwidth locally.

    But yeah, was going to suggest something in the box's settings.

    As for Postage Stamp vs pillarbox, I think it's more a matter of what sort of HDTV you have - my DLP looks great with pillarbox.

    Jragghen on
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