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Virtually all HDTV sets sold today are "widescreen." That means the width-to-height ratio is 16:9, the same as used in the movies. Viewing DVDs on these sets is a delight because nothing gets cut off, as it did with older televisions.
Unfortunately, however, a great deal of television content is still being broadcast in the old ratio of 4:3. Most HDTV receivers will let you choose whether to watch this content as is (with black bars at the sides), "stretched" (which fills the screen but distorts the image) or "zoomed" (which fills the screen but cuts off some of the picture).