MCE 2004 and Plasmas with Rectangular Pixels

Discussion in 'Windows Media Center' started by Cory, Oct 23, 2003.

  1. Cory

    Cory Guest


    I've got a question that could heavily impact on whether
    or not I would buy a MCE 2004 PC:

    The newest Panasonic plasma screens are widescreen 16:9
    aspect ratio, but their native resolution is 1024x768,
    which is a 4:3 ratio. How is this done? By making the
    pixels rectangular. Yep, non-square pixels.

    Some software applications (e.g. ZoomPlayer, Grand Theft
    Auto) understand that you can output 1024x768 but still
    have a need to modify the output for a widescreen
    display. They have settings to force the output to 16:9
    in order to get properly displayed images even if the
    resolution is 4:3.

    Regular Windows XP, unfortunately, does not have such a
    setting, so that means that your desktop (and Web broser,
    etc...) when output at the plasma's native res of
    1024x768 looks short and stretched.

    Does Windows XP MCE 2004 have a setting that allows you
    to specify that the resolution may be 1024x768 but that
    the output should be modified for a 16:9 plasma display
    with rectangular pixels? This would be particularly
    critical for viewing the desktop and any non-aware
    applications such as Word, or Internet Explorer.


    Cory, Oct 23, 2003
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  2. Cory

    aaronp Guest

    I have a 1024X748 Panasonic Plasma. I believe that most plasmas have
    rectangular pixels, especially the 1024X1024 (Hitachi and Sony I

    However, I think you're question really only applies to software
    applications which can increase the amount of "real estate" that it
    displays to the monitor in the horizontal direction. For instance,
    Grand Theft Auto could keep the correct aspect of the objects in the
    game and add more content left and right to maintain a 16X9 aspect
    ratio. Theoretically the windows desktop could do this too.

    However, television and DVDs cannot do this. If they're delivered
    over the cable lines or from the DVD player in 4X3 then the absolute
    best the computer can do is stretch (things look short and wide),
    zoom (lose top and bottom of picture), or in Panasonic's special mode
    (where the edges of the picture are stretched, but the center remains

    Since Media Center Edition is all about TV and DVD and Music (who
    cares what music looks like) then does it really matter?

    By the way, I keep it set on stretch in MCE.

    Posted via
    Everything about Windows XP Media Center Edition
    aaronp, Oct 23, 2003
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  3. Cory

    Cory Guest


    Thanks for the reply!

    I don't particularly care about music, TV and Video in
    this case because, as you said, there's no particular
    problem with having them stretched (or not, as the case
    may be).

    What I'm worried about is my desire to do some occasional
    Web surfing or e-mail reading on the plasma. I'm worried
    that on the Panasonic set I'll be forced to do the

    Hook the HTPC up via the VGA input and set the desktop
    resolution to 1280x720 (a 16:9 ratio) which will force
    the screen to scale, which usually results in fuzzy
    text. This is the recommendation I've seen made most

    I would much prefer to buy a Panny 42" HD plasma with a
    DVI input, which my research has shown will not support a
    resolution higher than the sets native resolution of
    1024x768, so I'd be stuck with a very weird looking
    Windows desktop -- unless the Windows desktop knew how to
    deal with the rectangular pixels. Which I'm hoping MCE

    The ideal with plasma is a 1:1 pixel matchup. Desktop to
    screen, perfectly matched. Unfortunately Windows XP
    doesn't understand that sometimes those pixels aren't
    square. I'm hoping Windows XP MCE does!

    Cory, Oct 23, 2003
  4. Yes, ideally you'd have a digital display with 1280x720
    or 1280x768 native resolution (and DVI) so that the
    display didn't introduce any artifacts. If the Panasonic
    does have a DVI, then it will most likely accept 1280x720
    as this is a common HDTV timing, even if it isn't the
    native resolution of the panel

    While the display can get away with distorting pictures
    and video from a DVD player, it is really apparent when
    you are trying to read text.
    If you are getting a Media Center Edition PC to use the
    remote control and distance UI, then your expierence is
    really not any different than it would be using your DVD
    player (and maybe better since the scaling will be less
    severe). If you want to use it primarily for computing
    and email, you might want to test how it looks by using a
    laptop or your old PC first.
    If it looks fuzzy at any resolution you try, then you
    know the panel is always scaling video.
    Jay kapur [MS], Oct 23, 2003
  5. Cory

    Tom Guest

    Seems like the interoperability between computers and
    televisions is a growing issue.

    Especially strange is the fact that many TV manufacturers
    are also PC or Monitor manufacturers, yet the
    compatability issues between STANDARDIZED TV, SDTV and
    HDTV resolutions and STANDARDIZED computer resolutions
    has not been adequately addressed.

    If it was, the folks who are trying to do this every day
    ( would not be pulling their hair out
    messing with Powerstrip, transcoders, ATI HDTV Dongles
    and the rest of this stuff.

    If a video card offers TV-Out, it ought to be as simple
    as connecting any conventional monitor. But it isn't.

    Part of the blame is with the video card guys, but the
    majority is due to the TV guys who use proprietary
    signaling and resolutions.

    But when the computer guys live in the same house as the
    TV guys (Toshiba, Sony for instance) there is no excuse
    for anything less than plug and play.
    Tom, Oct 24, 2003
  6. Cory

    Jose Guest


    Sounds like you haven't bought the TV. Have you
    considered the Samsung DLP line. They are not thin, but
    they are just as light and offer 1280x720 native through
    DVI. It's just like a PC monitor. A little more blurry
    close up but I can easily view all web pages 10 feet out.

    One tiny caveat, you have a choice of one setting which
    cuts a few pixels all around the edges but is perfectly
    clear (native), or a second setting which shows the
    entire picture but is a little blurry (interpolated).
    Dumb, but that's the way it is.

    Jose, Oct 24, 2003
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