I've recently upgraded to a Samsung 32" LCD (720p), and have discovered issues with interpreting the aspect ratio of dvds...
I have a rather old dvd player that I have tried connecting via the aux/coax cable as well as RCA cables. When the tv is in 16:9 mode, standard movie aspect ratios are displayed significantly too wide (or stretched). For example, movies shot with the standard 1.85:1 appear more like 2.39:1, whereas movies in 2.39:1 are EXTREMELY stretched and wide. also, dvds in 1.78:1 (16:9) do not fill the screen, but are letterboxed by maybe 10% on the top and bottom.
To give more insight, if I am watching a movie (say 1.85:1) in 4:3 mode, it looks about how I'd expect it to look on a 4:3 display (save for the black bars on the sides) -- with proper letterboxing and proportions. Now when I switch to 16:9... the letterboxing remains at the same level vertically, but the image is stretched to fit the width on the screen!
Is it possible that the old dvd player, or the use of these cables (aux, RCA), is preventing the tv from "understanding" the proper aspect ratio or potential of these dvds? Or is something wrong with the tv?
I expect I'll find out when I test a blu ray player with hdmi cables, but I'd love to know if anyone here could shed some light on why this is happening.
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The player is putting out a letterboxed 4:3 image. It should be viewed pillarboxed on the TV to achieve the proper aspect ratio. The end result is a small 16:9 image with both letterboxing and pillarboxing. See if your player has a 16:9 output mode for its analog outputs. That will make it output an anamorphic 4:3 image (16:9 image squished horizontally into the 4:3 frame) which you can then use with the 16:9 stretch on the TV. If your player doesn't have that ability then it's time for a new player.