When not hunting for HDTV and 4K Ultra TV news, HD Guru is often busy addressing emails from our beloved readers, many of whom have issues, concerns and questions with their old, new or pending TV purchases.

Understanding our answers to some of these questions could be of service to others facing the same or similar dilemmas, we’ve decided to collect and publish some of them along with our answers for all to see.

Many times our answers are on the money, but other times there are additional solutions and answers to some issues, so we welcome all with any insights to submit their ideas in the comments section below.

Additionally, if you are facing any questions you would like help with, please leave them in a comment or send it to HD Guru link at the bottom of this story and we’ll see what we can do to get a response.

Unless specifically requested, we will keep all readers’ names anonymous.

Read some of our reader’s questions after the jump:

HD Guru’s email:

The Case of the Faulty HDMI Cable

“O great Guru,

Running HDMI cable from computer to receiver. I only need 8 feet of cable but bought a 15 foot cable, so there were several feet left over, and cable not in straight line. I’m not getting a picture. Could this be because some of cable is twisted up in pile?  Any thoughts appreciated.”


HD GURU’s Reply:


This issue could be happening for a number of reasons. I’ll try to trouble shoot some of the most common ones:

1)     Try connecting the PC directly to the TV’s HDMI input without going through the receiver. If you have an older model receiver, you might not have the proper content protection system (HDCP 2.2) for near 4K Ultra HD signals, and this would block the picture while still letting sound through.

2)     Did you get a bad cable? I find HDMI cables often vary in build quality and quality control and fail either on delivery or sometimes shortly thereafter. In my experience, longer ones seem to have the most problems. Test the cable by plugging it into another device (a PlayStation, Blu-ray player, cable box etc.) and see if it will work. If you still don’t get a picture, then the chances are you got a bad cable. See if you can have it replaced or buy another one. If you get a picture, there may be a handshake issue between your laptop and the AV receiver. (This happens more often than it should).

3)     It’s never a good idea to let the cable get twisted. This can cause the connector to misalign or the internal cable to break. When getting HDMI cables, I always try to get the type with plastic insulation and not braiding. I’ve had more trouble with braided cables.

4)     Make sure your connections to the receiver are properly lining up with the source input switch. If you are getting sound and no picture, try unplugging and replugging the HDMI cable a few times and wait a few seconds each time. Some receivers and TVs take a little while to make the HDMI handshake.

5)     Try connecting the PC to a different HDMI input on the receiver. That contact might be faulty on the receiver’s HDMI board.

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“u were right!  How can this be?  It was a bad cable!”


Frustrated By Black Bars at the Top and Bottom of Movie Frames

HD Guru…I have a Panasonic 2015 55-inch TV and my local stations are 16:9, but when I stream a movie, the aspect ratio is set to “full” and I’d like to try the “just and zoom” to see if I can get the black bars top and bottom removed so the picture fills the screen. Sometimes a movie is full screen but mostly it is in what they call “letterbox” mode. No matter how I change the aspect ratio setting, when the movie starts the aspect ratio is “full.” I know that “full” is supposed to fill the screen but it doesn’t. Am I stuck with this issue?


HD GURU’s Reply


This is a very old dilemma we’ve had since the first widescreen TV sets arrived almost two decades ago. The reason you are seeing black bars at the top and bottom of the screen when watching primarily movies is that directors select the aspect ratio of the film they prefer to use, artistically, to tell the story; and Hollywood honors that artistic intent on Blu-ray Discs by preserving the image in a way that can be viewed in its entirety, with the 1.85:1 aspect ratio often being used for comedies and character driven films and 2.39:1 most often used for big, dramatic blockbusters (think Cinemascope). Ultimately, it was deemed by Hollywood Studios (the copyright holders) that you should be viewing the image as it was artistically intended to be seen on the movie screen in the theater, which accepts very different aspect ratios than the 16:9 frame on your fixed flat-panel TV. Hence, your dilemma at home. If you are seeing the movie over cable or broadcast the broadcaster often uses anamorphic squeezing to have the movie fill the TV screen with minimal distortion. If not, you should be able to adjust the aspect ratio with the zoom/stretch controls under the aspect ratio section of the settings menu on the TV. And some TV models will extend this capability to signals from Blu-ray players.

In part, because of this artistic-intent directive, many Blu-ray players lack the ability to stretch the image in their settings controls. However, if you go into the settings on many TVs, there should be a selection for aspect ratio (or Picture Size), then look for a setting for “custom”. After that you should find additional controls to help stretch the image digitally. You can select the setting that stretches the image up and down to fill the frame. Just keep in mind that doing this will add distortion and crop out portions from the left and right sides of the frame. So there will be significant trade-off considerations.

Most people just get used to the bars and enjoy the image as the director wanted you to see it and with all of the best picture quality you paid for, albeit on a smaller screen than the professional theaters.

When you get into digital projectors there are additional things you can do (like add an expensive anamorphic lens) to fill the frame and preserve the picture quality. But that’s a different story and a much different market segment.

So your problem can be blamed on Hollywood, or the TV manufacturing industry that originally decided on a compromised 16:9 aspect ratio for widescreen displays instead of the 2.39:1 aspect ratio that most of the studios prefer.

By Greg Tarr


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