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Auto aspect ratio, multi-disc resume and closed captions

Last response: in Home Theatre
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June 14, 2010 1:01:39 AM

My current setup for watching movies with my family is a JVC XV-N312 connected by component cables to a 37 inch Olevia TV (model 537-B12). Problem is, some DVDs are recorded in widescreen (16:9) and some are recorded in "fullscreen" (4:3). Sometimes there will be an indication of this on the DVD or the box, but when we rent NetFlix DVDs, it isn't always obvious which aspect ratio it's using. If I set my DVD player to output "4:3 LB", it can do correct the aspect ratio for 16:9 movies, but it would be dropping a number of scanlines to do so. If I set the DVD player to output "16:9", I think it passes the Line 23 Widescreen signalling to my TV, but my TV doesn't have an "Auto" aspect ratio.

I have a PS3 hooked up via HDMI to a Gateway XHD3000 in my room, which I use for gaming, so I don't like the idea of moving it back and forth between my room and the family room for watching movies. It adjusts the aspect ratio when upscaling DVD playback (X360 doesn't upscale DVDs as far as I can tell), and I discovered it could handle multi-disc resume, but I don't see any way to make it pick up the closed captions.

My main question is, what's the best/cheapest/easiest way to get the auto aspect ratio without losing my multi-disc resume or closed captions?

I can think of the following choices (though for some of them, I'm not sure they're really available):
1. new TV that supports auto aspect ratio (and maybe also 1080p), and it could take care of the closed captions from the 480i signal
2. upscaling dvd player or blu-ray player (many fail to support multi-disc resume even for DVDs, and I haven't seen any that can draw the Line 21 closed captions on the upscaled video - does such a player exist?)
3. separate upscaler that takes the signal from my dvd player but doesn't itself read DVDs, and can draw the closed captions (not sure such a device even exists)
4. separate closed caption device that would go in front of or on top of the TV (not sure such a device even exists)
5. HTPC (I'm not sure I'd want to assemble it myself, there are only a few media players that Wikipedia lists as supporting closed captions, and I think it might be tricky to set bookmarks in them using a remote instead of a keyboard)
June 16, 2010 12:06:23 AM

After I'd posted, I thought of another possibility:
Get a wireless usb to hdmi system (such as http://www.amazon.com/Warpia-Wireless-Projector-Display...) and an RF remote (such as http://www.amazon.com/Keyspan-RF-Remote-Windows-Vista/d...), then I can have one of my family's existing computers read the DVDs instead of building a new one.

However, I'm a little worried about that remote being marketed for Vista; There are two computers in the same room with the TV - one is XP Home, the other is dual boot Ubuntu/Win2k. My computer is in a separate room, and is triple boot Win7x64Ult/Vistax64Ult/XPHome. I'm open to suggestions for more compatible remotes.
May 9, 2012 1:33:29 AM

The usb to hdmi system was pathetic - it was short range and required line of sight. I put together an HTPC from a Dell Zino, a USB blu-ray drive, and a wireless keyboard with trackball. I initially tried the Keyspan media center remote with it, but it provided no way to change the subtitles or jump to the dvd menu. Aside from that, I think the blu-ray playback was a bit choppy (might just be because I got the cheapest dual-core option available for the Zino), and I discovered that if I paused the blu-ray playback and turned off the TV, it lost its place. I've now got an extra PS3 there for blu-ray (which can hold the pause when the TV is turned off, though possibly not if the PS3 loses power). Now, I've noticed that my parents have trouble remembering what to do on the HTPC (especially if they want to watch something while I'm off somewhere else). I had forgotten that the PS3 did multi-disc resume (at least for DVDs), so it's now a decent option for primary disc player, once I get the blu-ray remote for it. Now if some of you can help with the following:

1. Is there a way to get the closed captions from the PS3 and still automatically correct the aspect ratio? (or at least easily find out which aspect ratio the DVD was recorded with, so I can select it on the TV?) I could probably get the closed captions by using component cables and 480i, but for blu-ray I'd still need the hdmi cable, and most TVs won't switch between the two automatically. (I also haven't checked whether turning off upscaling with component cables would give me 480i; I might need to adjust the PS3 settings to forbid the higher resolutions to get it)
2. Has any blu-ray player been released since my previous posts that might fit my needs better? (preferably not more than about $500)
3. Is there a TV with built-in blu-ray player that might fit my needs better? I'd want it in the range of 26-37 inches diagonal, and full 1080p native. I don't require much from the TV's speakers, just decent quality (stereo 10W per channel should be adequate, but 2W or less per channel tends to sound horribly tinny, even to my inferior ears). Preferably not more than about $800.

Streaming capability from Netflix etc. would be nice, but not a requirement. I'd mainly use the system for watching movies, so I don't need BD-Live interactive capabilities. I'm willing to consider 3D capabilities, but only if it can handle passive 3d, such as that supported by the Sceptre E320BV-FHDD (I'm planning to get one for my own computer a few months from now, and pay for the iZ3D driver, but the Sceptre website doesn't actually link the manual, so I don't know whether it could automatically detect the correct aspect ratio from a dvd played at 480i/p and adjust; if it does, I might consider a second one to use as the family TV)
!