Dear TV manufacturers:
It’s time we talked about overscan.
Yes, I know why you do it. Yes, I even know why it’s necessary. But I need to be able to turn it off sometimes.
One of the early promises of HDTVs was the ability to connect a PC and use the TV just like you would use a monitor for your computer. If you bought a really big TV, you could use it as a really big monitor too.
All you had to do was connect your PC to the TV via a VGA/D-Sub input, and voilà! Your PC’s screen appeared on your TV. (You also needed an audio cable.)
But VGA is an analog signal, and it does not carry HDCP (high-definition copy protection) the way digital signals like HDMI and DVI do. And, of course, the picture quality from HDMI and DVI tends to be vastly superior to VGA. Many laptops today — including the one I own — don’t even have VGA ports anymore.
So if we’re connecting our PCs to TVs, we’re doing it via HDMI. We want to send 1080p or even 4K video output from our PCs to our televisions, but our televisions betray us with overscan. And most TV manufacturers won’t let us do anything about it.
So we’re stuck tweaking our PC settings to slightly lower resolutions to fit on the TV screen, and that often means text gets a little distorted…and thus a little hard to read.
There are a few exceptions. Sharp has a “Dot-by-Dot” mode on its TVs, and Samsung has a “Screen Fit” mode as well. But most manufacturers don’t have anything like this built into their TV sets, and it’s difficult to understand why that’s not standard on every TV manufactured today.
For the rest of you, please get on with it. And, for good measure, a firmware update for your existing sets wouldn’t hurt either.