Q: I have tested renting movies from iTunes and playing them on a TV from my 80 GB iPod classic using the newer cable with dock connection on the iPod. The problem I am having is getting the movie to fit my screen. I have tried setting the TV from Widescreen, 4:3, etc…but I am still losing content on the left and right side of the screen during playback. Is there a way to format the movie to fit the screen properly?
A: This is going to depend upon a number of factors, including the aspect ratio of the original movie itself and the type of TV that you are actually using.
The iPod classic and iPod nano (video) have options for controlling how your output video will be displayed on the iPod screen or on an external TV. These options can be found under Video, Settings:
The key options for controlling the output format are the TV Screen and Fit to Screen options.
The TV Screen option has two settings: Standard and Widescreen and should be set to match whichever type of TV you’re using. An incorrect setting here will result in an output video that looks distorted—either stretched in height on a standard TV or stretched in width on a widescreen TV.
The second option, Fit to Screen determines whether the iPod will “zoom” in on the image to fit the full width and height of the TV screen. When this option is “off” videos are presented in their normal aspect ratio, which means widescreen content on a standard TV will be shown “letterboxed” (with black bars at the top and bottom) but the full width of the picture will be shown:
With this option turned “on” the image is basically “zoomed in” to remove the black bars, which also results in the left and right sides of the image being cropped off as well:
Note that even on a widescreen TV, if you are watching a “Cinemascope” movie with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, you will still get some letterboxing or cropping (depending upon the setting of the Fit to Screen option), since a widescreen TV uses a lower aspect ratio of 1.78:1.
More information and some more visual examples can be found in our Guide to iPod, Apple TV and iPhone Video Formats.