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newbie question about my hdtv w/ screen ratio (1 Viewer)


Nov 11, 2004
I have a 65" Sony Widescreen Projection HDTV. I have Comcast digital cable, and I have the HDTV Cable box hooked up using component cables.

Whenever I am watching a program in HDTV, such as the Florida State-Florida game that's on ESPNHD right now, it's always in letterbox format.

Is it something I am doing wrong with my setup? Is this normal? Could it be my TV?

I would think that when watching a program in HD, it would fill up the entire screen. I have 4 screen modes on my tv, regular, full, zoom, and wide zoom. My TV automatically selects the screen mode for whatever the input is. Such as for dvd's, it goes into full mode and the 16:9 movies fill up the entire screen, along with my widescreen xbox games. And it automatically selects normal for HDTV programs which are in letterbox. The only way I can get my HDTV programs to fill the screen is if I select Zoom, and well, that just looks like crap.

I'm not really educated on this type of stuff, so any knowledge you could drop on me would be greatly appreciated.

Jonathan Smith

Stunt Coordinator
May 26, 2002
If you are watching an HD feed, it should fill your screen like you thought. HD is, by definition, 16:9 aspect ratio material. I would recommend going into your cable box's menu system and check to see if there's a setting somewhere for an output aspect ratio. You may also have to set the component video output as the HD output.

Maybe someone else with the same cable box can chime in if they know more aobut it. If all else fails, I guess I'd call the cable company until you get someone who knows what they're talking about.

John S

Senior HTF Member
Nov 4, 2003
Beware.. Often times letter box HD, comes that way from the source. Not sure about that particular feed though.

They simply take the 4:3 window and letter box it in the 16:9 feed.

Jeff Gatie

Senior HTF Member
Aug 19, 2002
One of two things is happening:

Your cable box may be set to 480i/p output, so you are seeing a downconverted image that the TV displays in normal mode. If you have a Motorola cable box, this is easy to check. Turn the cable box off and press "Menu" on the front of the box. You should get a list of settings. Make sure the output for HD is set to 1080i or 720p (whichever your set accepts). Then change your 4:3 override to 480i or 480p (whichever your set accepts) so you can view standard channels correctly.

If this is not the problem, you are probably viewing non-HD content that is upconverted to HD. These programs often have sidebars on them. Take a look at the ESPN-HD website to find the content that is actual HD. Anything else on ESPN-HD will be upconverted.

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