The wide screen saga

Wide screen television sets were introduced in Europe around 1992. At that time, there were hardly any wide screen broadcasts, so in order to move these new wide TV sets, manufacturers included all kinds of artificial picture scaling technologies into their products, stretching out the image just so that the screen is “filled”, and no black bars are visible at the sides of the screen. Of course, even though anyone serious about viewing moving images “the way they are intended” shudders from the idea of sacrifising picture aspect ratio, I can understand that in those early days without any wide screen content available, such technologies were needed just to get the wide screen TV ball rolling.

Then came DVD in early 1997. The first mainstream video format to offer real, anamorphic, wide screen video. The DVD specification cleverly defines that a player must be capable of compressing and letterboxing a wide screen DVD when a traditional 4:3 is connected, while outputting the uncompressed, full frame wide screen image to a wide screen TV. Unfortunately, the type of TV set that is connected to the player needs to be manually selected by the user. Ususally, this setting is burried deep down into the player’s setup menu. And since outputting an uncompressed anamorphic image to a traditional TV would result in deeply distorted pictures, but outputting a compressed letterboxed image to a widescreen TV does no harm to the aspect ratio, all manufacturer’s decided to set the player to “4:3 TV” by default.

Continue reading

Why the iPhone is not for everybody

I tend not to think of myself as one of those typical Apple-elitists. You know, the kind that hopes that Apple remains a marginal player in the worldwide market of computers, so that their choice for the brand remains a unique identifier for them. Instead, like many other Apple-fans, I would love to see the company grow and gain market share. Because naturally, this would benefit us all. The more Apple computers in use, the wider the range of software and other supporting products that become available. And although Apple is not quite there with their line of Macs, it did manage to become the number one spot in MP3 devices. And now, it is bound to become the biggest, or at least one of the top biggest companies in the field of fully featured mobile communication devices, or smartphones.

But let’s go back for a second to the whole Apple-elitist thing. I have to admit that there is one aspect in particular that makes me proud to be an Apple-user: I choose to use an Apple computer. After all, statisitcally based, it would have been logical that I picked up a Windows PC from one of the local shopping malls, just like 90% of computer users. Instead, I made a comparison between the offerings of generic PC vendors shipping Windows machines, and the Mac. And, at least to me, the Mac won that comparison by a large, large margin. It’s beyond the purpose of this post to state why the Mac is the superior platform for me (but sure, this includes Apple’s breathtaking visual design of the operating system, the stability and security of its OS underpinnings, the world’s best industrial design, but most imporantly ┬áthe tight integration between all hardware, operating system, software and Internet service components that provide me with this exceptional and unmatched user experience). So does the knowledge that most people select their computer based on price or raw hardware specs instead of doing a little investigation on what system works best for them make me an Apple-elitist? If so, then yes, I think I have to admit that I am more of one than I initially thought.

Continue reading