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Are 21:9 aspect ratio TVs the movie lover's dream?

Home theater projector manufacturers, as well as the screen makers, have been touting the benefits of ultra-widescreen formats for years. These generally fall under the heading of cinemascope, and usually conform to the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. In projectors, additional lenses (with powered sleds to move the lens into place when needed) and screen masking systems are required to make the changes in aspect ratio.

Now a few TV companies are jumping into that format with 21:9 aspect ratio LCD TVs. The 21:9 format is a good compromise to fit most of the theatrical widescreen formats. These TVs should be fantastic for watching wide Blu-ray movies (by eliminating the black bars on top and bottom), but what about 16:9 high definition sources? Do you want your black bars on the top and bottom or on the sides?

At the JVC booth we found the Cinema Xinema3D (pictured above), a 50-inch, 2560 x 1080 TV passive 3D TV with built-in Wi-Fi. There was little else in the way of information about this TV, other than the suggestion that larger models are also on the table.

The Vizio Cinemawide LCD HDTV also has a resolution of 2560 x 1080. This syle will be coming out in 50- and 58-inch sizes.  The 50-inch will use a 240 Hz panel while the 58 uses a 120 Hz panel. A 71-inch model is also in the works.  These TVs will use the passive 3D system with polarized glasses. One interesting side benefit of the ultra-wide TVs like this Vizio, is they have enough real estate allow you to navigate online apps while maintaining a full 16:9 image on the screen.

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Philips Funai brought out its Cinema 21:9 TV, which is already on the market overseas. This 58-inch model wears the same resolution badge as the others, does 3D in the passive style and includes IPTV functions.

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Today most 16:9 HDTVs 42-inches and up have a resolution of 1920 x 1080 (a few 720p models are still on the market). The expanded horizontal resolution adds a lot of pixels, but the vertical resolution remains the same as other HDTVS. Because these TVs use the passive (also called pattern retarder) method of creating 3D, they’ll suffer the same loss in vertical resolution in 3D mode.

For film purists, the ultra-wide TVs should be a welcome treat. But for most average HDTV buyers, these sets create a problem. What to do with all that extra space when watching regular HDTV? It becomes a question of viewing habits, or which evil you hate most. I won’t pass judgment until I try one out for myself. The Philips model has received good reviews in the UK. Personally, I think a 50-inch ultra-wide is too small. It looks like a 32-inch TV that’s been stretched. But a 58-inch or even better, a 71-inch—that’s something I could live with.

Tags : 21:93dtvces 2011editorialjvcphilipsultra-widescreenvizio

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Discussion:    Add a Comment | Comments 1-3 of 3 | Latest Comment

January 12, 2011 7:19 PM

Since most letter-boxed cinemascope/2.35:1 aspect ratio movies on Blu-Ray have a resolution of 1080p which include the horizontal black bars, wouldn't that make the actual vertical resolution of the film's visual space much less than 1080p and subsequently making the expanded-to-2560x1080 resolution just an up-conversion of said less than 1080p resolution?

January 13, 2011 3:16 PM

PK, that sounds about right. Since the source material is not 2560 x 1080, the TV will just be doing a whole lot of scaling.

View unverified member's comment - posted by JB

Discussion:    Add a Comment | Comments 1-3 of 3 | Latest Comment

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