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Widescreen, Sidebars, Letterbox, Stretch, Pan and Scan --- what does it all mean?

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4:3 (width: height) is the standard television shape. HDTVs have been manufactured in both 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios. 16:9 (width: height) is the shape of most HDTVs, although some HDTVs have been designed with a 4:3 aspect ratio. Widescreen is a term used for the 16:9 aspect ratio. Most HDTV sets are easy to identify because of their wide screens, which closely resemble their movie theater counterparts. Sidebars are black bands on each side of the picture. Sidebars are the result of displaying square-image content (standard-definition, 4:3, 480i, 480p) in a rectangular screen area (16:9, 720p, 1080i). You can usually reformat the picture fill the screen area by removing the sidebars with the STRETCH feature or by changing the picture format from the Settings Menu. Letterbox describes the black bands above and below the picture. The letterbox appears when displaying HD content on a 4:3 aspect ratio TV. You can usually reformat the picture fill the screen area by removing the ... more
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4:3 (width: height) is the standard television shape. HDTVs have been manufactured in both 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios. 16:9 (width: height) is the traditional shape of an HDTV, although some HDTVs have been designed with a 4:3 aspect ratio. Wide screen is a term used for the 16:9 aspect ratio. Most HDTV sets are easy to identify because of their wide screens. These screens, which are usually a lot wider than they are tall, closely resemble their movie theater counterparts. Sidebars present the entire picture in the middle of the screen and display black bands on each side of the picture. Sidebars are used when non-HD content is displayed on HDTVs with aspect ratios of 16:9. Stretch is a tool that can be used on some HDTVs to stretch a 4:3 image to a 16:9 screen (vs. sidebars). Letterbox presents the entire picture in the middle of the screen and displays black bands above and below the picture. Letterboxes are used to show HD content on a 4:3 aspect ratio TV. However, with a 16:9 ... more
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