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Play movies on a widescreen TV from a PowerBook Apps
I sometimes use my PowerBook (Titanium G4) to play movies on a widescreen TV via the built-in S-Video connector. Unfortunately, the PowerBook does not appear to be very widescreen-TV-friendly; its TV display proportions are more appropriate to traditional 4:3 TV. You either see large black margins at the side, or the display is stretched horizontally so the picture is not in correct proportion. When playing a movie, the only satisfactory option to fill the screen horizontally without losing proportion is to get the TV to zoom in, but as this is also stretching vertically as well a lot of vertical resolution is lost.

A solution to this problem when playing movies is to use the popular VLC media player to create an anamorphic picture (pre-compressed horizontally but not vertically), similar to the technique used by widescreen DVD players. Setting the TV to widescreen display then shows the movie at full width, in correct proportion, and without losing any vertical resolution. To do this I've found the simplest approach (using VLC 0.8.4) is to set the VLC 'Monitor pixel aspect ratio' to 4:3 before opening the movie. This setting can be found in the Video preferences when the Advanced preferences option is checked. With this setting, I've found that VLC then compresses the display horizontally exactly the right amount so that displaying widescreen on the TV restores the correct proportion. With a good quality source, the resulting picture quality is then almost as good as playing on a DVD player.

[kirkmc adds: I haven't tested this, not having a PowerBook, but I'm surprised that this is a problem. I have a 16:9 TV (and have had it for more than five years), and it's the TV that changes the screen size, not the input device. Also, you need to check the Displays preferences and set the resolution for the TV once it's connected.]
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Play movies on a widescreen TV from a PowerBook
Authored by: earlshango on May 05, '06 08:48:59AM

I've got a PowerBook, and a 16:9 TV, and I connect them via S-Video. The first time I did this, the PowerBook output an 800x600 signal. But, this can be changed in the Displays system preference.

After I changed it to output a widescreen signal, the PowerBook dutifully did so, and now whenever I plug it in, it remembers to properly output the widescreen signal.

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Play movies on a widescreen TV from a PowerBook
Authored by: llahsram on May 05, '06 09:01:33AM

It's not the PowerBook that's unfriendly to widescreen, it's the S-Video. All you're going to get out of a composite or S-Video port is a 4:3 picture with 480 lines of resolution (interlaced), whether from a PowerBook, a DVD player, or any other video source. The PowerBook will just scale whatever resolution you've set down to that format. Setting VLC to "Anamorphic" is essentially doing the same thing as an anamorphic DVD, which is a 16:9 picture squished horizontally into 4:3 in order to maximize the horizontal and vertical resolutions. This isn't a feature of the DVD player; the disc is burned that way, and it's up to the TV to stretch the picture back out again.

I don't know about the Titanium PowerBook in particular, but most recent PowerBooks are fully capable of providing a widescreen image to a TV that supports it. You just have to use a VGA, DVI, or HDMI connector, depending on what the display has. I use my MacBook Pro to drive my widescreen TV at 1920x1080 over HDMI and it works wonderfully!

The hint is certainly valuable for when you have a widescreen TV that for some reason only supports S-Video and you want to play videos full-screen, but ideally one wouldn't use S-Video at all with a widescreen display.

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Play movies on a widescreen TV from a PowerBook
Authored by: zane on May 05, '06 04:52:34PM

Oddly, my 3 or so year old ED (enhanced definition, ie: 480p) 16:9 plasma has VGA input, but with only an 800x600 (ie: 4:3) native resolution (or 1024x768 interpolated). So my VGA signals are all 4:3 stretched out to 16:9.

Without yet trying it, I'd say this hint would work well in this situation too, tho I don't know how many widescreen TV's are out there like mine with only 4:3 VGA support.

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Play movies on a widescreen TV from a PowerBook
Authored by: sfgecko on May 05, '06 11:40:48AM

My 4 year old 16:9 Panasonic CRT has 4 picture modes when using S-video: Full, Just, 4:3, Zoom.

My external display resolution is set to 1024x768. Overscan option in display preferences is also checked.

When watching a matted (non-anamorphic) 16:9 video, I set my TV's picture mode to Zoom. A matted 16:9 picture will fit the full frame of the TV in Zoom mode.

When watching a 4:3 video, I set my TV's picture mode to 4:3. Proper AR with black bars on the left/right sides.

Keep in mind that widescreen DivX/XviD videos that you download off the web are usually NOT anamorphic (they're matted), unlike anamorphic widescreen DVD's e.g. a 16:9 AR squeezed into a 720x480 frame.

What this hint is describing is a way for you to tell VLC to make a matted picture anamorphic into a 4:3 frame so that when you output it to a 16:9 TV in "Full" picture mode, it will display the AR correctly. However, the videos will not look right on your Powerbook's LCD, so you will need to reset the pixel aspect ratio back to 0 if you want to watch on your Pbook's LCD.

If you watch videos mostly on your widescreen TV using VLC and S-video, then this hint saves you the trouble of flipping between the TV's 4:3 and Zoom picture modes, or if your TV doesn't have those modes.

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Play movies on a widescreen TV from a PowerBook
Authored by: TomAlperin on May 05, '06 07:33:55PM

DVD Player has some new features that seemed to sneak in. One of the options is to adjust zoom level. A check box can be unchecked to turn off keep the aspect ratio.

What you can do with is is set the TV to display the video stretched out. The video will now looked too stretched out, but you can now use the DVD player zoom to only zoom vertically until the picture is back to the proper proportion. You should be able to get the video to be fairly close by eye. If you know that the movie is the same as the screen it's being displayed on then just zoom until the black bars dissapear.

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Play movies on a widescreen TV from a PowerBook
Authored by: TomAlperin on May 05, '06 07:36:08PM

I forgot to mention. The advantage to this over just zooming on the TV is that you don't lose resolution like you do with the TV zoom.

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Play movies on a widescreen TV from a PowerBook
Authored by: telljoolz on Mar 31, '07 08:01:10AM

My MacBook cannot output widescreen video. This hint did the trick. Thank you.

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