HDTV – The Dreaded Letterbox

August 3, 2009 – 9:49 am, posted by Oliver

So youre sitting on the couch, finally home after a long day’s work, and you turn on the television to find that your screen is messed up. All you can see is a small picture in the middle of the screen. You think “What the heck is going on with my TV?!” First you panic, thinking it might be broken. Then, when rational thought processes return, you change the channel to find that the next one is fine. Relieved, you flip back, and there it is again – that dreaded letterbox. If this has happened to you, then you know how aggravating it can be, especially when you find that it’s happened right before the beginning of a show you wanted to watch. Let’s take a look at what really causes letterboxing, and what you can do to fix it.

I had this happen to me when I got my first HDTV. Since it only seemed to be happening on one channel, I called my cable company, wondering what was going on. It turns out I had to set the proper aspect ratio in my cable receiver to match that of my television. Okay, done. But that still didnt solve the problem. I was then told that letterboxing can occur when a company doesn’t record a show in High Definition. All I have to do is temporarily change my settings back to either widescreen or 4:3 standard and it would go away. From there, I can zoom in and out of the picture to make it fit the screen. Turns out that even though the channels are digital, it still depends on the content and what format it was recorded in. It’s a simple fix for an aggravating problem.

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