Widescreen DVDs are mostly 1.85 or wider, like 2.35.
But HDTV is 1:78.
So I recommend a 1:78 screen, and if you can afford it, masking at top and bottom for other aspect ratios, from 1.85 to 2.35 and even beyond. I luv my Stewart 4 Way Electrimask, and D-Man just ordered a Stewart Electrimask with masking only at the top and bottom.
I had the exact same question. But let's say you don't plan on any masking system. Does it really matter if the black bars are on the top or the side? It seems that if you plan on watching more 1.85 DVD's than HDTV, you should get a 1.85 screen. Many DVD's are 1.85, and there's currently not much HDTV. Also, 1.85 makes for (slightly) smaller bars for 2.35:1. So I don't see why it seems like 16:9 is the default wide format for most forum members, not 1.85...
But I don't *own* a screen (yet), so I'm just guessing!
You make a very valid point. I am actually going from a 1.85 screen to a 1.78 screen but I do view a good share of HDTV. As Steve mentioned, I am going with a Stewart Horizontal Electrimask screenwall so I can mask from 1.78 to 1.85 to 2.35 and beyond, so it's now a moot point with me.
I would however still suggest a 1.78 screen because it will not only future proof your screen for your future HDTV needs, but it is also so close to 1.85 that most of these 1.85 DVDs will likely fill the screen given a 5% amount of overscan.
Steve, actually I just want your masking http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/biggrin.gif . I think I would modify it and stretch it to accomodate a larger screen. I know Stewart has a fancy arrangement for the bottom mask so that it is always in tension. Anyone from Stewart want to sell me on buying their 4 way masking as oppossed to making my own?
Is there a significant price difference between a 1.78 & 1.85 Stewart screen? I would guess not, since they are so close to the same ratio, but I haven't compared prices between the two. I currently have a 1.78 Draper screen and am having a hard time deciding on which GrayHawk to get, 1.78 or 1.85. I probably do a little more HDTV viewing, than DVD, so maybe I should stay with the 1.78 ratio?