Most 16x9 TV's have a ZOOM mode which fills the entire screen for non-anamorphic letterbox DVD's. On my Sony W400Q, I have the options for both anamorphic and letterbox. I still get bars on the top and bottom for 2.35:1 movies.
My Mitsubishi Wt-46807 has five display modes for using with DVDs and normal broadcast TV. Here they are.
1. Side panels, gray panels on the side.
2. 480i STANDARD Mode: This is for viewing Anamorphic DVDs. On 2.35 DVDs there are small black bars on the top and bottom.
3. EXPAND Mode: This mode if for use with standard 4x3 images. The expand mode chops the top and bottom of the 4x3 image off to fill the 16x9 screen. Also use for none-Anamorphic DVDs that are latter-boxed. (i.e. Somewhere in Time ). The back bars are eliminated at the top and bottom of the screen on the non-anorphonic DVDs.
4. ZOOM Mode: This mode is used for 2.35 Anamorphic DVDs to eliminate the black-bars at the top and bottom of hte 16x9 screen.
5. Stretched Mode: This is used for normal 4x3 programming. The stretch mode stretches out the sides of the 4x3 screen and leaves the center of image alone.
I only use Mode 5: Scretched for my kids cartoons shows.
We use the EXPAND mode for viewing all other 4x3 material.
My Mitsubishi HD-5 STB is set to 1080i. All none HD channels are displayed in the chop mode elininating the side bars.
We view all images with no distortions except for the kids cartoons.
I have the Toshiba 65H80. It has three (to five) modes of viewing, which you can set on a case by case basis.
1) 4:3 mode sets the picture at full vertical size with grey boxes filling in on the sides.
2) Full mode sets the true 16:9 aspect ratio made for HD signals and anamorphic DVD's (absolutely the best picture).
3-5) Theater mode stretches the picture to fill the sides of the screen. In doing so, it also stretches it vertically so as not to distort the image. There are three different settings on the menu to appease your situation. Since most movies are filmed in 2.35:1 or 1.85:1, the cropping of the top and bottom are insignificant.
There are two drawbacks to the theater mode:
1) The image is stretched, causing a little fuzzy, slightly out-of-focus appearance. This is noticable when compared to higher end images.
2) If watching normal 4:3 broadcasts, the tops/bottoms are cropped off, making watching sports (esp. ESPN & other news tickers) annoying, if not impossible, since they are sacrificed in the cropping.
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