Sunday rant: A (seemingly) reasonable request?!

Dear Content/Service Providers/HDTV Manufacturers:

In general, I must admit that I have been impressed with the overall evolution from CRT SDTVs to thin/flat LCD/Plasma HDTVs. I appreciate all of your efforts to continue to create thinner and cheaper products.

However, it’s been years since the first wide-aspect television hit the market and yet consumers still have no choice or any options to customize the drab black “bars” on either side of 4:3 programming.

Pillar boxing is a problem that can be fixed.

How long will it take for content providers (w/ the rare exception of ESPNHD and others who at a minimum replace the black bars with a hint of creativity), service providers, and/or HDTV manufacturers to solve this issue? We now live in an age of choice and customization. At the very least, manufacturers should provide consumers the ability to change the “wallpaper” on either side of the screen with different colors or images (like a computer desktop), thereby creating a more pleasant pillar box effect.

While this would be a greatly appreciated (and long overdue update), custom wallpaper should really just be a temporary solution. Looking to the near future, providing the ability to add news, weather, a tv guide, or other useful information is the ideal solution.

Just think about this for a second…what if you could put an email notifier, a visual reminder, or even see additional content related to the program you are watching (think Pop-Up Video but for normal shows)? Why force people to bring TV to their computers when Web content could be displayed in the wasted space on people’s large high resolution televisions? Hell, I’d even settle for advertisements in the black margins if it meant I could watch an entire episode of The Simpsons without interruption.

Bottom line – until computers and TVs are fully integrated with one another and/or the majority of content is presented in 16:9 (speaking of which – what’s taking so long?!), get your collective act together and eliminate this pillar box pandemic.

All the best,