Need help with tough decision for new TV


On the fence
I desperately need a new TV. I don't mind paying for an HDTV ready set, but I have one concern.

I watch mostly cable TV (not digital). Several reviews I have read suggest the picture quality of regular cable is actually worse on a HDTV than a standard set. Without the high quality signal the set doesn't perform???

Is this true? Should I buy a standard set since I don't watch a ton of movies (I do watch on a progressive scan player)?

Should I buy 4:3 or 16:9? Again mostly TV, not DVD.


What I have noticed is that you can generally get a larger 4:3 set than an equivilant wide screen. This will actually work out to a bigger wide screen picture on the 4:3 set than for the 16:9 oddly enough.
For example, Sony's 40" TV gives you a 37" wide screen, which is bigger than the 34" 16:9 set. More importatnly for you, the 34" wide screen only gives you a 28" screen for 4:3 signals.
If you mostly watch TV and aren't looking for HDTV any time soon, pick up a nice standard 4:3 flat screen TV with progressive scan. That way you'll get a very nice picture quality on your DVD, but will get the most out of your standard broadcasts as well.

on the fence
Thanks for the response...

I'm leaning toward a 36" or 40" Sony direct view 4:3.

My main concern is should I get HDTV ready or a standard TV.

Do you have any experience with the picture quality of HDTV ready sets using standard Cable TV?

I'm considering picking up an HDTV myself, so I don't have experience in the video quality department... I've also heard that video quality on regular cable isn't as good on an HDTV monitor, although I have a feeling that it is mostly because HDTV looks so much better that the quality difference really sticks out.

It might be worth going to a Best Buy or Circuit City and seeing if they get cable and if you can get a demonstration.

Hopefully someone else will help you answer this question too :-)


If you are just going to use analog cable for now and a long time, get an analog TV. If you watch DVD's and will have a nice progressive scan player, then I can see you being on the fence. If you plan to use it for HDTV, which it will be in a few years, you need to decide what you want to do in the meantime. Do you want to buy a TV that is worthless in a few years? That may be a better financial deal for you. Do you want a TV that will work for several years, possibly at the expense of a bad picture until you get HD?

edgar v.
i just bought a sony 46" 16:9 hdtv monitor. i have regular cable, but am planning on getting digital cable, so i can get the hdtv channels (the dig.cable box has the hdtv receiver). but for the time being, i've found that FOR THE MOST PART, the basic cable picture sucks. some channels are better than others (nbc seems great, e.g.), but i wouldn't keep the TV if i wasn't getting digital cable.

of course, there are some steps you can take. there's a great webpage that helps you tweak your picture [ ]. but if you ABSOLUTELY NEVER plan on getting digital cable or watching hdtv, you might as well get more bang for your buck with a standard tv.

as far as the 16:9 vs 4:3 question, i'm a big widescreen backer. my feeling is that since eventually most tv and movies will be widescreen, its worth it getting one now. my widescreen has four different viewing modes, and with the WIDEZOOM mode, it zooms in a little on the center of the picture (where 99% of the action is), and it stretchs the outside of the image. you can't even tell its being stretched, so regular tv shows look like they fit perfectly. and then widescreen shows, like ER or the sopranos, fit great too. so i don't see why anyone would buy a standard aspect ratio tv, short of financial reasons.

but if i were you, i'd look for a widescreen, non-hdtv (do they even make them?), or i'd re-evaluate your stance on digital cable, with a look to the future and hdtv. if you buy a standard tv, when everything goes to hdtv in a few years you're gonna need a special receiver to adapt the digital signal to your analog tv, so why not go hdtv now and get digital cable? i pay 46 dollars a month for basic analog cable, and basic digital cable is 50 dollars a month.

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