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advantage of 16:9 tv v.s. 4:3 question - preference (1 Viewer)


Stunt Coordinator
Apr 19, 2004
Hey all,

I am a die-hard widescreen fan - also the black bars that are so synonymous with widescreen movies never bothered me. Now, that being the case, is there any real advantage of getting a 16:9 tv as opposed to a 4:3.

See, I was thinking about getting a new big screen. They are all 16:9 now. However, i had someone offer me a Hitachi 53SDX20B for a great price (it's a 4:3) that is less than a year old. Now, since they are both newer tv's and they are both HD-TV ready, as long as I am not bothered by the bars when playing a widescreen movie on the 4:3 there is no reason i shouldn't get the 4:3 for the better price, right? If anything, I think it would be better since video games, full screen movies, reg. broadcast tv, etc would be TRUE fullscreen - as where the 16:9 screen would either stretch it, or squeeze the sides in, you know....

What do you think? Anyone familiar with the Hitachi 53SDX20B?

You can reach me at [email protected]

Thanks a ton in advance,


Steve Schaffer

Senior HTF Member
Apr 15, 1999
Real Name
Steve Schaffer
There's one main sticking point to a 4/3 HD set. They all lock into 16/9 mode when fed an HD scanrate. When an HD channel is not broadcasting true HD, which is still most of the time, they place the 4/3 picture in the center of the 16/9 frame and add black bars on the sides.

On a 4/3 HD ready set in this scenario you end up with top, bottom, and side black bars--A little 4/3 image in the center of all that real estate.

That being said, that particular model Hitachi is one of the best 4/3 HD ready sets ever built, and does an excellent job with SD material.


May 19, 2004

Agreed, that is annoying. My parent have a 4:3 Sony XBR direct view set and Comcast will broadcast like this fairly often. When a true HDTV signal comes in though, everything is normal. This should end up becoming more commonplace as more and more programming is going HD.

There are still some positives for a 4:3 set. Non-HD TV, non-widescreen games (probably at least half if not more), classic movies in the 1.33:1 ration, etc all will have a bigger picture on a 4:3 set. While a 16:9 set is cool and does have some very distinct advantages, a 4:3 TV is by no means a dinosaur yet.

Michael TLV

THX Video Instructor/Calibrator
Senior HTF Member
Mar 16, 2000
Calgary, Alberta
Real Name
Michael Chen

Of course with non hd material ... one could just switch to another input where the 4:3 image completely fills the screen.

What's the sense of using the HD output for watching non-HD material? Just use the S-video ...

But if sheer laziness is the goal ... well ...

Choices choices ... do you distort 90% of your viewing that is 4:3 material for the sake of 10% like with a 16:9 TV ... ?

With a 4:3 capable set, you don't have to ... so you get the best of both worlds.

(Of course you also increase the risk of CRT unever wear when you use the 16:9 mode too much.)



Second Unit
Aug 23, 2003
Thanks Michael for injecting a little horse sense into this debate. The whole idea of watching a non-hd source in 16x9 mode just seems silly to me. Just switch the input.

I'm seriously looking at the 32 inch Toshiba hdtv. It's a large sized hdtv that gives me good screen size on my widescreen DVDs and great size for full screen material. I'd have to get a 40 inch widescreen tv to get what I would consider an appreciable difference in screen size. Way out of my price range right now.

By the time hd becomes prevalent, I'll have two hdtvs to watch it on. The Toshiba, and my new 50 inch widescreen that I'm sure will be affordable to me by than time. In the meantime, a 32 inch screen is plenty big for the hd material that's being broadcast at the moment. I don't exactly live in a cavernous mansion.

I can get a 32 inch hdtv right now made by a great manufacturer--or I can get a 34 inch widescreen for 800 dollars more with what I consider to be slightly more screen size on widescreen movies that's also heavier than the 32 inch set.

To me, I just feel like I'd be wasting my money by buying the 16x9 set. Now if I could find a 40 inch or greater 16x9 set for just a couple hundred dollars more, then it might be worth it. Widescreen tvs are certainly sexier. Otherwise, I just don't see the advantage.

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