No, you didn't read it wrong; I explained it incompletely. Let me clarify.
We don't prevent you from watching in the original aspect ratio, but you may have to manually swtich resolutions to do so.
Examples: You can set the output of BMC9012 to any of the following resolutions: 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i. In 1080i mode, we present 1080i signals in whatever aspect ratio they are transmitted. If the program source is 4:3 with pillars on the sides, that's what you'll see. If the source is stretched, that's what you'll see. If it's native 16:9, that's what you'll see.
Here's where the complexity sets in: In 1080i mode, signals in lower resolutions are currently upscaled to 1080i and stretched to 16:9.
At home, when I tune to a 4:3 program that's transmitted in 480i, what I do is manually change output resolution from 1080i to 480i. This restores the 4:3 aspect ratio.
What we plan do in a future release is to eliminate the need to switch output resolution manually. You check off all the resolutions your display is capable of handling, and, provided the display can handle the incoming resolution, that's what we'll output. If not, we'll scale it for you.
In that coming release, we'll present original aspect ratio and screen resolution automatically.
From that point on, it's up to you and your TV to make choices about stretching, cropping, letterboxing, etc.