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HDTV versus SDTV(NTSC) Screen Size
For a new TV, should I buy a wide HDTV screen or a Standard TV (STD)
/ NTSC screen?
What size screen should I buy?
While I can't make the decision for you, here is some simple math to help
you get a handle on the screen size for HDTV versus NTSC.
Reminder: Pythagorean Theorem is a^2 + b^2 = c^2 for right triangles
NTSC aspect ratio is 4:3, forming a 3:4:5 right triangle with diagonal
HDTV aspect ratio is 16:9, the diagonal is SQRT(337) = 18.358
Scale factor from NTSC diagonal to needed HDTV diagonal [NTSC upgrade
1.224 = 337^0.5/15
When upgrading from NTSC to HDTV, use the above scale factor to convert
your current NTSC TV diagonal to a HDTV diagonal that will show the same
size NTSC image as your old NTSC TV.
Scale factor from NTSC diagonal to viewable HDTV diagonal [NTSC displaying
0.918 = 337^0.5/20 = 337^0.5*(3/4)/15
Use the above scale factor to go from your NTSC TV diagonal to the displayable
Scale factor from HDTV diagonal to viewable NTSC diagonal [HDTV displaying
0.817 = 15/337^0.5
Use the above scale factor to go from your HDTV diagonal to the displayable
Empty area on HDTV screen viewing full-height NTSC image
Empty area on NTSC screen viewing full-width HDTV image
Interestingly enough, the blank area on the screan is 1/4 for either a
NTSC TV or an HDTV viewing the other signal.
Here's a handy graph so that you can read off the conversion that you
To answer the original questions, I highly recommend buying a wide screen
HDTV for the following reasons.
Use the "NTSC upgrade to HDTV 1.224" factor to convert from a current
NTSC TV to a diagonal for an HDTV that will show the same size NTSC image.
- The "industry" has standardized on HDTV and has committed to the
format for the future. While the migration is somewhat slow due to
various factors, it is progressing.
- Wide screen aspect matches both HDTV and DVD movies, and both of
these signals have more resolution than NTSC. So it is better to have
the bigger (area) image for the higher resolution HDTV or DVD material, with
the smaller (area) image for lower resolution NTSC programming.
- HDTV is a must have. Once you have seen HDTV, you won't want
to go back to SDTV/NTSC. Are you a sports fan? Many games are
already being broadcast in HDTV.
- HDTV recordings will come. Right now, you have to do your
own recording using something like a HDTV HTPC. But keep an eye out for HDTV on DVD.