Roku Device Features, Settings & Updates

Help configuring Roku device settings, using Roku OS features such as screen mirroring, adjusting display type and audio settings, using Guest Mode, and assistance with software updates.
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mjl1297
Level 7

Aspect ratio query...

I honestly don't know if this is an Amazon Prime Video forum question or a Roku forum question but I will start here.

I occasionally stream Amazon Prime video content through a Roku 1 connected to a 4:3 tv in my office. The display setting on the Roku is set to 4:3 but when I watch 4:3 content it pillarboxes the image. Can anyone tell me why this is happening and what I might check to possibly remedy the situation? I should think that 4:3 content should display without bars of any sort on a 4:3 display.
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8 Replies
trekkeriii
Level 10

Re: Aspect ratio query...

"mjl1297" wrote:
I honestly don't know if this is an Amazon Prime Video forum question or a Roku forum question but I will start here.

I occasionally stream Amazon Prime video content through a Roku 1 connected to a 4:3 tv in my office. The display setting on the Roku is set to 4:3 but when I watch 4:3 content it pillarboxes the image. Can anyone tell me why this is happening and what I might check to possibly remedy the situation? I should think that 4:3 content should display without bars of any sort on a 4:3 display.

Actually it's they way the video is encoded. There's no way to correct it. Shows that have been given HD treatment are actually encoded in Widescreen video format, but they just keep the black sides. So, when Roku outputs that, it then shows the back bars on top and bottom for old TVs as well. Been that way for Amazon since it came out on Roku.
http://trekkeriii.com/Roku_PHP_list.php
Router - ASUS RT-AC68U
ISP - TWC - 50 Mbps/5 Mbps
Net+ Cert
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mjl1297
Level 7

Re: Aspect ratio query...

Just recently decided to return to this issue.

trekeriii I appreciate your response but you didn't read my post closely enough--I said pillarboxed (bars on the side) NOT letterboxed (bars on top and bottom).

16:9 content displays correctly through the configuration I described. The problem is the 4:3 content displaying with the bars on the side on a 4:3 tv! I still haven't figured it out.

Anybody?
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DubTaylor
Level 10

Re: Aspect ratio query...

Because the material isn't encoded for analog TV sets... nor would I ever expect it to be.

4:3 material is pillarboxed on HD TVs. When you take 4:3 material designed for HD TVs and try to shoehorn that material onto an analog TV - some bad things can happen and you're seeing some of them. 'The Numbers' aren't right. The Ratios are askew. It's 6 of one and 480 of something else. That material is encoded for a 16:9 environment and that just doesn't fit well in a 4:3 universe.

The same thing in reverse happens when you get one of those old Letterboxed DVDs made for analog sets, that goes crazy when you try to play it on your HD set and you got boxes on all sides. There's a way to re-code those for use on HD sets, but it's complicated, time consuming, and a giant PITA. It's easier to just use the zoom function on the HD TV and that's why (almost) every HD TV has a zoom function.

You could probably fight tooth and nail to encode your own material that would behave a little better on your Red Skelton Special, but then it would probably be weird on an HD set. There is a better world out there awaiting... for you to upgrade that old TV.
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Emissary35
Level 7

Re: Aspect ratio query...

The problem is when they remaster HD versions of old 4:3 TV shows they actually encode it as a widescreen video (not 4:3) because they burn the black sidebars into the video itself. So when viewing this on a 4:3 TV set you get the top and bottom black bars as you would normally get with a widescreen video and then you get the bars on the side because they've made the sidebars a part of the image. The side bars are not appearing because of no video information it's because they've been made a part of the video. So even though the show is preserving it's 4:3 aspect ratio the video being streamed (or on blu ray disc) is actually in 16:9 format. This makes no difference when viewing on an HDTV because it fills the screen from top to bottom and has black sidebars the way 4:3 shows always appear on HD sets, however this looks terrible on older TV's because the 4:3 image no longer fills the screen, instead it appears with black bars on all four sides of the picture and there is nothing that can be done about it.
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makaiguy
Level 10

Re: Aspect ratio query...

"Emissary35" wrote:
... This makes no difference when viewing on an HDTV because it fills the screen from top to bottom and has black sidebars the way 4:3 shows always appear on HD sets, however this looks terrible on older TV's because the 4:3 image no longer fills the screen, instead it appears with black bars on all four sides of the picture and there is nothing that can be done about it.

In which case, one must use the tv's picture size controls to change settings to zoom the picture out to fill the screen while watching such a program. Then, of course, you have to set it back for "normal" viewing.  A pain in the neck, but there's not much else one can do.
Roku 3, 4200X, Ser 4124C7087583, wifi connected - Samsung UN55ES6100
Roku Streaming Stick, 3600X, Ser 5S56D8240827, wifi connected - JVC EM37T
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DubTaylor
Level 10

Re: Aspect ratio query...

Unfortunately the OP doesn't seem to have a Zoom Feature on a 500 year old TV Set, nor can the OP call up Amazon and have them encode their material so it plays on said Ancient Alien TV.

If the TV can't be replaced, sit closer. Roku isn't at fault for viewing strangeness with analog TV sets they stopped supporting long ago.

If anyone is wondering why it's advantageous to upgrade analog TVs this issue is just one of the reasons. Their time has come and gone.
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makaiguy
Level 10

Re: Aspect ratio query...

"DubTaylor" wrote:
Unfortunately the OP doesn't seem to have a Zoom Feature on a 500 year old TV Set, nor can the OP call up Amazon and have them encode their material so it plays on said Ancient Alien TV.

If the TV can't be replaced, sit closer. Roku isn't at fault for viewing strangeness with analog TV sets they stopped supporting long ago.

If anyone is wondering why it's advantageous to upgrade analog TVs this issue is just one of the reasons. Their time has come and gone.

You're probably right, but at one time I did have a small 4:3 digital set which had several picture zoom options.
Roku 3, 4200X, Ser 4124C7087583, wifi connected - Samsung UN55ES6100
Roku Streaming Stick, 3600X, Ser 5S56D8240827, wifi connected - JVC EM37T
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DubTaylor
Level 10

Re: Aspect ratio query...

"makaiguy" wrote:
"DubTaylor" wrote:
Unfortunately the OP doesn't seem to have a Zoom Feature on a 500 year old TV Set, nor can the OP call up Amazon and have them encode their material so it plays on said Ancient Alien TV.

If the TV can't be replaced, sit closer. Roku isn't at fault for viewing strangeness with analog TV sets they stopped supporting long ago.

If anyone is wondering why it's advantageous to upgrade analog TVs this issue is just one of the reasons. Their time has come and gone.

You're probably right, but at one time I did have a small 4:3 digital set which had several picture zoom options.

I had one too. It was about 40 inches, weighed at least 500 pounds and when it went bad (the second time) myself and two of my largest friends threw (dropped) it off a second story deck onto the driveway, where a broom, square-point shovel and wheelbarrow took care of what was left. The first time that bridge rectifier went out (with a report not unlike an improvised explosive device) those same two friends helped me get it in a truck for the trip to the repair shop. It was a collective decision that a repeat trip to the repair facility just wasn't in the cards.

The digital replacement came up those stairs really easy. I am certain we made the right decision... (the electric bill went down 20 bucks a month soon after... really odd)

Smiley Happy

I recently needed a second monitor on the desktop (with the TV makes 3). I got a 19" 1080p job with an HDMI connection along with DVI/Other for $24. That too seemed like a good call.
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