Sight And Sounds

980 David Road, Suite G

Burlingame, CA 94010








Sight And Sounds Newsletter

August, 2008

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Signals to Be Transitioned in February

Though cable and satellite are considered by the FCC as “closed systems” and will continue to provide standard definition programming, it is unlikely they will offer much support for those who continue to watch programs with their standard definition TVs.

Most HD programming is in a widescreen format, otherwise known as the 16:9 aspect ratio. This means that for every inch of picture height, there is just over double that in width. In other words 16:9 is like a rectangle while standard definition is more like a square, with its box-like 4:3 format.

When broadcasters are spending millions on upgrading their infrastructure to HDTV, do you think they plan to provide two aspect-ratio versions of their broadcasts, one for HD and one for standard definition? The answer is definitely “no.” In fact, most networks are already shooting in the 16:9 format, and the results are very unappealing image modifications that affect standard-definition sets.

Since the 16:9 image is wider than 4:3, the standard-definition signal is either cut off on the left and right sides (cropping), or the signal is “morphed” by squeezing in the left and right sides to make it all fit within the 4:3 box-shaped screen, making images look tall and skinny. Another adaptation is “letterboxing,” where a black band is added to the top and bottom of the screen, shrinking the image overall by about 20 percent.

It is very vague how cable and satellite providers will set their standards for modifying the 16:9 images to 4:3 formatted screens, since there is little regulation from the FCC, dictating standards for HD signal aspect ratios when broadcasted through cable and satellite providers. Chances are, the modifications to the video image are not going to be universally accepted or appreciated by the public at-large. The cable and satellite companies are looking forward to a future all-HD channel lineup, since incoming signals will not have to be modified at all and simply output to the TV.

Having spent an evening at my parent’s home, I saw for myself the affects of “cropping,” and it was extremely annoying. An actor was clearly pointing at something supposed to be within the field of view, but it was not visible, simply because the image width had been "cropped" to fit the screen. I don’t think many of our clients will be satisfied with any one of the resulting image modifications when broadcasters choose to crop, morph, or letterbox HD aspect ratio images to fit the old 4:3 aspect ratio of standard-definition TV sets. We suggest getting with the HDTV future now to appreciate all HDTV has to offer.


How Do I Upgrade to HD?

1) Select The Proper Size TV

We often make free site visits to discuss how large or small you want to go in various rooms. The idea is to match the right product for your needs, and usually size is the first concern.

2) Select The Right Location

You may already have a Cat-5 outlet in the room, and that is convenient to the distribution of HDTV signals. Since we carry small HDTV distribution "Baluns" that allow for HDTV to be transmitted over small Cat-5 wires, placing a TV near an available telephone or network jack is probably the simplest solution. Cat-5 wire is common to many homes, and even if your home does not have Cat-5, it is easy to run because it is so small and pliable.

3) Choose Your Provider

Every provider has it's pros and cons. While reviewing your home, we can look at what provider may offer the best solution for your needs. Cable TV, DirecTv, and Dish all compete with one another, and since these three offer services like HD video recording of shows, pause for live TV, and on-demand programming. Since you may want a certain product that best fits your needs, it is important to understand who offers what, along with the requirements needed to get the most from the service.

4) Consider Control

Since HDTV video signals can be distributed from one main location, we can place all of your electronics in a closet or "head end." A typical location would be the AV cabinet in your family room; other common spots are closets and utility rooms. Placing the HDTV sources remotely keeps the rooms free from electronic clutter. A quality control system like AMX or Control4 allows you to select and operate your HD signal from anywhere in the home. The idea is to focus on a clean install that is also easy-to-use.

5) Move Forward

We make written proposals, providing accurate pricing with itemized product and labor costs. Once we get a fix on the best match of products and labor for your budget, we email the proposal to you. with your approval, we move forward to scheduling. It's an easy process. At that time we can coordinate with your selected provider to ensure the transition process is as painless as possible.


Customers who have made the upgrade to HDTV are always amazed at the picture quality. Many of our customers already have HD sets in most rooms, but for those who have the straggling set or two should really consider “biting the bullet” now, since the February transition date is quickly approaching.


We look forward to hearing from you. Here is our contact info:



System Ideas...

This is an example of a wall mounted flat-panel display with a distinctively clean install look.







Clearly, this is a much better solution than a converter box and ugly cables.


This is an example of a Cat-5 HDTV Video Balun (approximately 3" wide).

About the size of a pack of cigarettes, this can easily be placed behind the HDTV.


This HDTV Matrix Switch allows us to place several HDTV sources in one "head end" and distribute the signals over Cat-5 to various locations house -wide.

These switchers are available for under $1K and free your rooms from the look of ugly electronics, since all of your HDTV satellite or cable boxes reside in one centralized location.


A quality control system completes the job.

You can access HDTV sources and control them, such as playing your own unique recorded shows from any room. Since the HDTV signals are distributed, we give them names, such as "Mom's Sat" or "Kids Sat." Recorded shows and parental settings are now made available house-wide.


This is a great example of a well-organized rack.

This system distributes 2 satellite receivers ("Dad" and "Oliver") to 4 rooms, along with a DVD player and X-Box, all distributed over Cat-5. The system works great. This is in my own home, and I use it regularly every day in various rooms.