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It's basically to allow you to stretch or zoom a picture. Some people prefer a stretched SD 4:3 ratio image, so it fills the entire screen (no bars on either side when viewing on a 16:9 ratio HD TV).
 

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With Bell TV, you are watching an HD Show, when the title of that show has the letters "HD" in front of the show name.

Just because you are watching on an HD channel does not mean the show is in HD.
 

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Here's the FAQ on HD Programming:

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=76068

Here's a useful post for those new to the forum - FAQs, Search Tips, Optimization, etc:

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=57741

Pressing the * button allows you to cycle through the various stretch modes and the STB will remember the mode separately for SD and HD channels, however, these days with most people watching mostly HD, I recommend leaving both at "normal" for the best picture quality and no distortion.
 

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To add to the confusion, tv's have their own aspect ratio controls, independent of the receivers. Preferring to see the whole picture, unstretched, I keep both sets of controls 'normal'. The picture is smaller, but I see it all, the way it should look, adjusting for individual shows and films on a case by case basis.
 

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Just because the show has HD on the title in guide doesn't mean it's HD either. 95% of the time that is correct, but there have been instances where Hell's Kitchen or The Amazing Race has shown in Bell's guide as "HD - The Amazing Race". The only thing HD on the Race is the odd commercial, not the show itself, although that's changing.
 
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