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Hey, progmtl.

I was in the same boat about a year ago. My TV watching is pretty minimal, but I watch a lot of movies and play PS2/XBox a fair amount. I knew that the widescreen format was going to be the way things would be in the next couple of years (ok, FCC, let's get on with it!)...but I didn't have a huge space for a really large TV either.

We looked at a lot of sets, and eventually went with the Toshiba 34" HDTV, Cinema Series, which was just under $2000 from a local specialist. The Toshiba has 4 modes of viewing in widescreen. One puts gray bars on the sides of the picture and retains the 4:3 ratio (ick, plus risk of burn-in). One goes full screen and stretches the picture (actually not so bad once you get used to it, but not ideal except for maybe football). Then there are two "zoom and stretch" modes. The one we use zooms in slightly, so you lose maybe an inch, top and bottom, and then it stretches the edges. Sounds awful, I know. But it looks really good, and the only time you can tell is if you are watching CNN or something with a news ticker.

The problem you will run into, I think, is finding a TV for your price range. Prices are coming down, but the only set I recall in widescreen at that price point was a 30" Samsung HDTV widescreen, and the picture quality was unimpressive (your mileage may vary).

Hope this helps!

TMF Uberman
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