Only a loon would choose a 16:9 TV over 4:3!



That is the inescapable conclusion I have arrived at after shopping for a new TV. Consider the following typical scenario involving two Samsung TVs in the same product line at Best Buy:

1. $999 - 30" 16:9 HDTV set.
2. $799 - 32" 4:3 HDTV set.

It's obvious we can get a TV that is 28% larger (492 vs. 385 square inches) for 20% less. "But the widescreen is better for movies and widescreen content!" I can here you screaming. Not really, the two screens are almost exactly the same width (25.6 vs. 26.15"). The 30" widescreen provides only 4% more viewing space for 16:9 content (385 vs. 369 square inches). Now consider that the 32" screen offers a whopping 70% more space for viewing 4:3 content.

Even a 30" 4:3 set doesn't compare THAT unfavorably. 16% smaller widescreen and 50% LARGER 4:3 content and probably half the price.

I love widescreen content but it seems to me widescreen TVs are nothing more than the television manufacturer's attempt to con us in to paying more for less. In some cases the prices may not compare so unfavorably (although it seems to be the rule) and in other cases you may not have the option of aspect rations (plasma screens etc.) but in general it seems like a no-brainer to me.

Flame away...what am I missing?
That may be the case in the US.. but over here widescreen rules.. and if you walk into Electrical store/department stores now the biggest space is now displaying 16:9 plasma and LCD screens.. already widescreen CRT seem to be becoming a rarer sight.. and 4:3 TV's are only seen at the cheapo end of the market. With the push of digital satellite and terristrial tv here there is a significant proportion of widescreen programming so we do not see the price differential which you have listed as really our choices are come down to how we would like our widescreen (crt/lcd/plasma/projector/rptv)



It's getting harder and harder to find good quality 4:3 sets in the US as well. When you can find comparable sets of comparable quality the price differential between 4:3 and 16:9 is RIDICULOUS! Keep in mind that a 30" widescreen TV is actually closer in size (overall) to a 27" 4:3 TV than it is to a 30" 4:3 TV because of the different aspect ratios.

Taking my example above you're paying a 60% per square inch premium for nothing more than the widescreen look. Shopping around it doesn't seem to be an atypical situation. The television manufacturers are laughing all the way to the bank.

If you're looking for a new TV you'll get a far better deal if you can find a 4:3 set that suits you. Don't pay the widescreen tax!!!
Well.. I am very happy with my widescreen.. had it now for about 5 years.. only now thinking about a replacement.. 4:3 screens are a dying breed.. and for a change it the europeans who are leading the charge :)

I think once Hidef becomes more the norm in the states the number of wide screens sold will increase and the "widescreen premium" should disappear !




Staff member
Given that the material you may watch will comprise a mixture of 4x3 and 16x9 (I'm talking signal format here).....

Given that the human perception of "size" is governed more by height than by width......

Using a 4x3 TV for this mixture will make a 4x3 image larger (by the above definition) than a 16x9 image (assuming both are properly displayed, ie. without distortion or cropping).

Using a 16x9 TV will make both images (by the above definition) the same size (assuming both are properly displayed, ie. without distortion or cropping).

My preference is for the same perceptual size, so I choose 16x9.

Looking forwards, the balance between 4x3 and 16x9 signals is inevitably going to shift towards 16x9.

A 16x9 screen is more future proof, in that, given a 16x9 signal, a 4x3 TV will become unnecessarily tall more of the time - not just the screen, but the whole thing - so it will occupy more of your living space. Ultimately, the extra height will be wasted virtually all of the time.

For this reason, I choose 16x9.

Paul Atreides

Originally posted by Matt Horne
the number of wide screens sold will increase and the "widescreen premium" should disappear !
If 4:3 disappears we won't know if there's a premium.

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