If you are watching regular analog tv 95% of the time, what would the better format be for purchasing a new HDTV? 4x3 or 16x9. Also, what's the key factor in deciding between a CRT versus a projection tv?
If you will watch analog (4:3) programming 95% of the time, then I think that 4:3 is the way to go. However, with the recent growth (and future growth) of HDTV programming, you might end up watching more 16:9 programming than you expect.
I regret buying a 4:3 TV. I did not expect to watch as much HDTV programming as I watch now. I would guess that 75% of my viewing is 16:9 (DVD's and HDTV). So, if you're getting an HDTV tuner, you might consider how much 16:9 programming you will watch rather than how much you currently watch. Carefully consider how long you will want to use the new TV -- 16:9 HDTV programming will grow more common over the next 1 to 5 years.
See the HDTV schedule here to determine whether many current shows that you watch are in HDTV.
For me, space/size was the key in deciding between a direct-view (CRT) vs. a projection. I thought my room and seating distance was too small for a projection TV. Again, I regret this. A 40" HDTV set would have worked well for me. Instead, I got a 36" direct-view. The 40" seemed too big, but now I realize that HDTV's increased resolution would have made this work.
I don't think anyone with the tiniest bit of interest in HDTV should ever consider 4x3, it's a thing of the past. Just walk into a showroom and see all the TV's displayed side by side, don't you think the 16x9's are exciting and the 4x3's are just plain UGLY ??
One thing you might want to consider is whether or not you plan to watch a lot of DVD's on your new tv. Watching an anamorphic DVD on a 16x9 is usually no problem but on a 4x3, some tv's do it better than others.
I have a FP for DVD's and HD and a 4x3 Direct view HD as well. I chose a 4x3 because of space considerations and I got a good deal on it as well. I figured that in 5 years or so when more 16x9 is available then I'll get a 16x9 set that will more than likely be cheaper and not take up as much space either.
I used to vaccilate on this question myself. When I started looking at sets I realized that I wanted to get as big a set as possible to get that "immersed in the movie" experience. But if your set is too big (or if you sit too close) then the picture's sharpness doesn't hold up and it looks lousy. So you have to balance picture quality against size.
Now here's the catch: 4:3 material (VHS or NTSC via cable, satellite) is generally lousier quality than 16:9 material (HDTV or DVD). So if you watch 4:3 stuff then it becomes the limiting factor in how big a set you get.
If you buy a 4:3 set, the 4:3 material is shown BIGGER than the 16:9 material. So you end up buying as big a set as you can to display the 4:3 material - and all of the extra quality of the 16:9 material is wasted because it's displayed in a much smaller area.
If you buy a 16:9 set, the 16:9 material is shown BIGGER than the 4:3 material. This is GREAT - you get to take advantage of the better material by viewing it in a bigger picture. EXACTLY RIGHT!
Because of this, I think that if you watch any HDTV or DVD, even if it's a minority of your viewing, it still makes a lot of sense to go with a 16:9 set. The price premium on 16:9 sets has been coming down steadily - it's reached the point where I took the plunge. Whether it's at the right point for you is something I can't answer...
I actually bought a 4:3 HDTV first. I had it for almost 90 days, when I noticed that I found myself watching mostly HDTV programs, do you want to maximize your worst looking program(NTSC), or maximize your best picture(HDTV and DVD's). Luckily I had a very understandable salesman that allowed me to trade for the 16X9 after 90 days. 16X9 was the best choice. You really do get use to the stretching of 4:3 material.
I've owned my 16X9 TV since March 2001, If I had to do it all over again, I would without a doubt choose 16X9.
Are you looking for a 16:9 projection (of any type) compared to a 4:3 projection or are we talking tubes? If tubes Id suggest a nice 36 or 40 inch 4:3. You actually get a larger viewable area on the larger 4:3 tube than you do with any of the current 16:9 ratio displays.
If the diagonal size of a 4:3 set is over 9% larger than the diagonal size of a 16:9 set, then a 16:9 image appears larger on the 4:3 set (letterboxed) than it does on the 16:9 set (full screen).
A 33" 16:9 set has a width of 28.762".
A 36" 4:3 set has a width of 28.800".
36" is over 9% larger than 33". (33 * 1.09 = 35.970)
Because a 16:9 image takes up the entire width, it appears slightly larger on the 4:3 set. Furthermore, the 4:3 set may show more of the 16:9 image because the top and bottom of the letterbox are not hidden by overscan.
If you're limited to a tube TV (probably because of space constraints or possibly lighting conditions), then I suppose makes sense to buy the widest tube available (assuming that if it's a 4:3 tube that it does the vertical squeeze to maintain the highest vertical resolution).
But if you're not limited to a tube TV, then I maintain that a 16:9 set has a lot of merit based on the idea of getting the biggest picture that's not as limited by the quality of most 4:3 source material (as I described in my post above).
Of course, if you usually watch high-quality 4:3 source material (i.e., you're a classic film buff and have lots of 4:3 material on DVDs) then this doesn't apply, but I think that would be a minority of viewers.
I recently had to make the same decision and purchased a 16x9 Toshiba 50HX81.
HD is stunning, DVD's are great and SD (satellite) is in comparison, lacking but watchable in a stretch mode (to eliminate uneven CRT burn. The larger the set the poorer the SD picture becomes in comparison to the higher quality resolutions. That said, most people who have seen this set here (and not familiar with the higher resolutions) find the picture acceptable. To achieve this it's necessary to properly calibrate the set.
I'm also considering a 16x9 set or a 4x3 set. Like the original post said, right now I watch 95% 4x3 material. The 16x9 set is actually cheaper then the 4x3 set so if I get the 4x3 set I'm not going to get a HDTV tuner, but if I get the 16x9 set I will. They're the new Princeton Graphics AS3.2HD and AS3.0HDW. The 4x3 is 32" and the 16x9 is 30", both have multiple aspect ratios. I did the math and in 16x9 mode the Widescreen set is only 1" wider then the 4x3 set. So it seems that overall I should just go with the 4x3 since the 16x9 set would only be 1" bigger widescreen, and would be considerably smaller in 4x3 mode then the 4x3. But my concern is this CRT uneven burn thing everyone is talking about. These sets are direct view, now if I watch a lot of 16x9 material in 16x9 mode on the 4x3 TV will I get the same uneven CRT burn that I would get watching lots of 4x3 stuff on the 16x9 set in 4x3 mode?
I purchased a 1999 Mits vs-50803 Diamond series 4x3 50 inch set. I watch a lot of 4:3 tv, HDTV when available, and HD sat. I effectively have a 43 " 16x9 view area. This works out great for me. I don't even notice the upper and lower bars when watching 16x9. I have calibrated my set with AVIA and have absolutly no burn in problems to date. When it is time for an upgrade I will probably go for a front projection unit since they now work so much better in lighted rooms. As stated above, you can sit a lot closer to a great picture!
If you are planning to replace the TV set in two years, you may be better off with the 4:3, since you can get great deals on these soon to be obsolete products. But if you plan on keeping the set for a while, definitely go 16:9.
Since buying our 16:9 plasma this spring, we find that we now only watch widescreen stuff, with only an occasional exception (CNN and Iron Chef!). DVDs and prime time are pretty much all widescreen these days.
I didn't know there were different 16x9 formats. When I went to the website comparing the viewing area between 4:3 and 16:9, they showed three different 16x9 formats. When would these formats come into play?
Originally posted by lisle I didn't know there were different 16x9 formats. When I went to the website comparing the viewing area between 4:3 and 16:9, they showed three different 16x9 formats. When would these formats come into play?
Here's what they were getting at: widescreen movies come in many different formats or "aspect ratios", depending on how the movie was made. Some movies were shot in 4x3, some are 1.78:1 (which is about 16x9), others are even wider (like 1.85:1 or 2.35:1).
The wider the movie, the larger the black bars (letterbox) are on the tops and bottoms of your screen. With a widescreen TV you'll waste less space, of course, than with a regular TV.
So the website is trying to show you how big a picture you'll see when watching different types of movies with different aspect ratios.
IMO 16:9 34" direct view screens are to straining to watch. In fact it does not even matter to me that they might offer a larger 16:9 picture than a 32 or 36 4:3 might- the point is that in a 34" inch size 16:9 is hard on my eyes! Even up close it feels like looking through a letter box-. I would much prefer to watch HD upconverted into a 32 inch 4:3 format even though I realize that this would adulterate to quality- its just so much easier on the eyes.
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