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Vizio CinemaWide 21:9 HDTV launched

Vizio has announced a treat for film fans with a few grand burning a hole in their pockets: the impending launch of the CinemaWide 21:9 aspect ratio HDTV series.

Starting with a 58in model and moving down to a cheaper 50in and up to a range-topping 71in in due course, Vizio's CinemaWide series differs from a traditional HDTV in one important aspect: the width-to-height ratio. While a normal HDTV uses a 16:9 aspect ratio, Vizio's CinemaWide series uses a 21:9 ratio that more closely mimics the aspect ratio used in films.

The result: none or minimal 'letterbox' bars at the top and bottom of the screen when watching 21:9 content.

Based on a 58in LCD panel with 120Hz refresh rate, passive 3D capabilities and the aforementioned 21:9 aspect ratio, the 58in CinemaWide display boasts a resolution of 2560x1080. Sadly, there's a catch: a Blu-ray disc, the usual source of high-definition content for most homes, uses the Full HD resolution of 1920x1080, with the letterbox bars encoded into the video itself.

To compensate for this fact, and to remove the bars from view, the TV includes in-built upscaling functionality - similar to that which allows standard definition content to fill a high-definition screen - which zooms the image to fill the entire ultra-wide display.

While this will result in a loss of quality compared to non-upscaled content, Vizio claims that the image will remain high quality thanks to a powerful processing engine.

For standard high-definition and standard-definition content, where the ultra-wide zoom functionality would result in cropping parts of the image, the additional space is used to display internet-connected applications powered by Yahoo. Examples include live scoreboards for other matches while you're watching a specific match, or access to social networking services without missing your favourite programme.

Vizio has not yet confirmed whether the CinemaWide series will be coming to the UK, but has confirmed availability in the US priced at $3,499 (around £2,200 before taxes).

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