My UAL flight had 4:3 side screens and a 16:9 center screen. The program material was 4:3 and dynamically distorted to fit the 16:9 screen.
Now I’m used to 16:9 screens showing horribly distorted video in hotel rooms; it seems every hotel has invested in wide screen TVs but, hey, broadcast is 4:3. So they’re fixed at “stretch” and only occasionally do you find a TV that you can reset to pillar box so it doesn’t look horrible. And I thought that was bad.
But this is amazing – the screen has a variable distortion field – stretch is zero in the center, but becomes more pronounced on the edges. That means that the necessary compensation is worse than 2:1 on the outside edges, just horribly distorted, while the center is undistorted. I suppose the theory was an analog of fovial vision… gone awry, but the result is just weird, disturbing when someone walks across the screen and seems to get twice as fat from center to edge. Who thought that was a good idea?
People: do not distort the image. Just because you paid for the pixels does not mean you must use them.
Back to the mid 1990s before airlines realized that giving free wifi in their clubs would encourage people to become members and that they’d make more money on the membership fees than on screwing people for access charges. Besides, most of us have WWAN cards now.
$9.95 for 10 minutes of access before my flight. Sorry, no. Even if the WWAN roaming is more expensive, it is a matter of principal.