Difference Between A Crop Pillarbox & Stretch On An Hd Directv

A wide-screen television is about twice as wide as it is tall.

Crop, pillar box and stretch are the options available to people with a DirecTV high-definition (HD) receiver and 16-to-9 aspect ratio wide-screen televisions that allow them to view 4-to-3 aspect ratio, or standard, programs. “Aspect ratio” describes the shape of a television screen, the ratio of the screen’s width vs. its height. A standard television is just a little wider than it is tall, and programs broadcast in that format don’t normally fill the entire screen of a wide-screen television. The pillar box, crop and stretch options compensate for the difference.

Pillar Box

The piller box option displays the entire 4-to-3 aspect ratio-formatted program on a 16:9 aspect ratio television by adding black or gray bars on both sides of the screen to fill in the extra space. Pillar box is the only option for watching a 4-to-3 program without distorting or losing any of its picture.


The crop option fills the wide-screen television with a 4-to-3 program’s picture by expanding the entire picture to the width of the wide screen. It retains the picture’s aspect ratio so that it isn’t distorted. Because the option expands the whole picture, the picture’s height increases to more than the height of the wide screen. As a result, it crops, or cuts off, the picture’s top and bottom.


The stretch option stretches a 4-to-3 aspect ratio program’s picture to fit a wide-screen television. It doesn’t have to stretch the picture’s height to fill the screen from top to bottom, but it stretches the picture considerably from side to side to fill the wide screen. The side-to-side stretching causes some picture distortion, making displayed elements appear slightly squashed.

Option Selection

The options allow you to decide which way they prefer to watch a standard, 4-to-3 aspect ratio program on a 16-to-9 wide-screen television with a DirecTV HD receiver. If you prefer a particular option, you can select it by using the Guided Setup option on your DirecTV HD receiver. Whenever you turn to a channel broadcasting a 4-to-3 program, your television will display the format you chose.