Using AppleTV on 4:3 aspect HDTV

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by eric_n_dfw, May 31, 2008.


Are you running an AppleTV on 4:3 or 16:9 aspect screen?

  1. 4:3

    5 vote(s)
  2. 16:9

    14 vote(s)
  1. macrumors 65816


    I've been playing with a borrowed AppleTV on my Sony KV-40XBR700, 40" CRT HDTV. While it's an HDTV that can do 1080i, it is a standard 4:3 aspect tube.

    Unless I'm missing something, here's what I see as my two resolution options:
    • 480p: Running in 480p mode puts the whole interface into a 4:3 mode but it's a bit pixelated and chops widescreen content off rather than letter-boxing it.
    • 1080i: Running in 1080i looks nice, the menu's and everything are letterboxed on my screen and widescreen movies show up letter-boxed as expected (and look nearly as good as the original DVD's played via an upscaling DVD player); but now 4:3 content is displayed with black borders on all 4 sides! It's not switching to a full-screen aspect to show them.

    Since the majority of media I have is 4:3, unless Apple solves this issue I don't think the AppleTV will work for me (unless, I buy a 16:9 screen TV).

    Any thoughts? Am I missing something in the settings? Is anyone else out there using AppleTV on a 4:3 aspect screen too?
  2. macrumors 601


    While, as you know, you can technically use AppleTV on a 4:3 TV, Apple says right on their website that the AppleTV is only compatible with 16:9 TVs, so no, you're not missing anything.
  3. macrumors 65816


    Yeah, that's what I was afraid of. I'm just glad I'm having the opportunity to play with one without buying it. I love by CRT and am not looking to replace it with a widescreen any time soon so I think I'll be returning the AppleTV to my friend.

    It would be nice if it had some kind of setting that would automatically switch to 480p when 4:3 content is being displayed and then switch back to 1080i when not. Oh well, I've posted that enhancement suggestion on Apple's discussion board - not much else I can do I suppose.
  4. macrumors 6502


    I have a 4:3 CRT HDTV in my house (not my buying descision) that has a zoom mode where if you have a lettebox source you can stretch it to 4:3 or zoom in to the 4:3 part of the letterbox. Check on your remote.
  5. macrumors 65816


    Is that true even at 1080i? Mine, at that resolution, displays everything in letterbox with no zooming possible. I assume that is because 1080i is a 16:9 aspect resolution (1920x1080) by definition.
  6. macrumors 604


    Well, both..

    In the bedroom, I have a 17" WS LCD at 16:9

    In the basement, my home theater projector is at 4:3 and I "squish" it to 16:9 mode (black on top and bottom).

    Both I use component at 1080i.... HD content is nice.
  7. macrumors 6502


    Ours is a Sanyo, which with 1080i, can stretch and zoom that source. Sanyos and Sonys are totally different. Sorry I can't be much more help. We're trading up for a Vizio in a month anyways.
  8. macrumors member

    I have the 36" version of the Sony 4:3 HDTV. The Sony TV's native resolution is 1080i, so that's the best setting for ATV. Yes, you will have the bars at top and bottom, the Sony condenses the vertical lines of resolution for HiDef (component, DVI) input to emulate a 16:9 screen without losing resolution. Just like on a 16:9 screen, you will now have black bars on the sides for 4:3 content. The Sony provides no way to stretch or zoom the picture to fill the screen horizontally, like most newer 16:9 TVs do. Fortunately, most of my video content is widescreen anyway, so the Sony works great for me for now.

    So, if the side bars really bug you, sounds like a good opportunity to upgrade to a nice new 16:9 set!
  9. macrumors newbie

    I've noticed a lot of people referencing black bars on the "side" of the TV. Does this mean the black bars you normally see on the top/bottom (traditional letterbox)?

    In other words, if I'm using a Panasonic HDTV (35") with 4:3 ratio, would Apple TV still work ... just with the black bars on top/bottom (rather than the sides)? I can live with this until we upgrade to a 16:9.

    The thing that most concerns me is when I read that Apple TV "Requires" 16:9 ... making me think that a TV that is the same in every way (HDMI, HD, etc) but is 4:3 ... won't work.

    Make any sense?

    Thanks again!

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