The crop, pillar box and stretch controls on high-definition DirecTV receivers control the aspect ratio -- or shape -- of the TV screen's display. These configuration options can remove the "stretch" effect that occurs when a show made in 4:3 aspect ratio displays on a 16:9 widescreen TV set and get rid of the "squeeze" effect of a widescreen program displaying on a narrower 4:3 TV screen. Tweak the crop, pillar box and stretch controls until you're happy with how DirectTV content displays on your TV set.
Pillar box is the only option for watching a 4:3 program without distorting or losing any of the picture on a 16:9 television screen. It adds black or gray bars at both sides of the screen to fill in the extra space on the wider display.
The crop option expands the entire 4:3 picture to the width of the widescreen display but retains the aspect ratio so that the image isn't distorted. Because the option expands the whole picture, the height increases to more than the height of the screen. As a result, it crops -- or cuts off -- the display's top and bottom.
The stretch option expands each side of the 4:3 aspect ratio content to fit a widescreen display. The side-to-side stretching causes some picture distortion, making objects appear fatter and shorter than normal.
Use the Guided Setup option on your DirecTV HD receiver to select the aspect ratio display option that suits you best. Whenever you turn to a channel broadcasting a 4:3 program, your television will display the format you chose.