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JVC's ultra-wide TV: When widescreen just isn't enough

JVC has a new prototype TV that will make your current screen look positively square -- it's in the full, cinematic 2.35:1 widescreen format

Good news: your widescreen TV is obsolete. Sure, you may well have just spent a fortune on an exciting new flat panel, thinking everything would be cushy until the next big thing comes along, say, ultra-high-definition television. Crave is here to prove you wrong, as JVC has a prototype TV that will make your current screen look positively square. Sorry about that.

So what is JVC trying to do? Well, Hollywood blockbuster movies are made in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and that's what you see on the screen in a real cinema. This means that the picture is well over twice as wide as it is tall. The traditional widescreen TV is 1.85:1 (aka 16:9), but as most modern TV productions and some lower-budget movies use this ratio (older TV shows and some news and documentary channels still use 4:3), it makes sense for home TV to use it too.

Now JVC has unveiled its super-wide 2.35:1 screen prototype. Designed especially for showing off massive movies in all their glory, the set is based on the company's rear-projection technology. We were very impressed when we saw it, although the company wouldn't let us take any pictures of it -- hence the mock-up image on the right.

We saw a demo clip from Constantine, and it looked fantastic. It's hard to describe, but the set really does impress when you sit in front of it -- it's much more cinematic, and a screen with almost no edge around it has a huge visual impact. The screen is also very bright, as long as you are sitting in the 'sweet spot' right in front of it -- always an issue with rear-pro screens.

When it comes to watching normal TV, you're going to be stuck with enormous black bars to the left and right of the screen. And let's face it, this is already annoying with 4:3 programmes on current widescreen TVs. And on this screen they're going to be huge, so this will definitely be for home-cinema fans only.

JVC hasn't decided if it will put the set into production yet, but the manufacturing costs would be no higher than a standard rear-pro TV. This is because the set is just a 70-inch rear-pro screen with the top and bottom cut off to achieve its ultra-wide ratio. -IM