The television itself shouldn't necessarily force you to have gray bars on the side, although the settings may be set so that it's that way be default.
In the Screen Protection Menu, there is an option to adjust the grey bars (togge on and off, really) for when a 4x3 picture is being broadcast and go to a black background setting.
So when a 4x3 picture comes in, the television will detect it as a 4x3 picture and do nothing.
The confusion enters the picture when a 16x9 picture comes in. Now if the signal coming into the television is 16x9, and comes WITH grey bars, then the setting in the Screen Burn protection is over-ridden and becomes redundant. A good example would be ESPN broadcasting a 4:3 picture and adding the grey logo bars on the side. While ESPN may use a fancy logo, some networks will use a solid grey bar, and there's nothing we can do about that. The television is accepting a 16x9 picture, and properly displaying it, whereas the Screen Burn Protection menu is bypassed. But that's an example of the 4:3 aspect ratio being broadcast *within* a 16x9 broadcast, and transmitted in 16x9. In that example, since the 16x9 broadcast is being broadcast, any sidebar options become redundant.
So... now that I've gone off the complete deep end on broadcasts... I just wanted you and others to know how that feature works, since I do get some questions on it.
Some DVD players may have this option also built into the menu system of the DVD player. First things first, I would recommend making sure Screen Burn Protection menu is set to "side bars black" so that the television will show as as you intend it to. If that doesn't fix it, send me the model number of your DVD player and I'll be happy to look to see how I can assist you in fixing this issue.
For the TV's part in this, however, the Screen Burn Protection Menu should allow you to adjust this out.
I have a 50" Samsung 450 series plasma TV. When I watch a 4:3 picture, I get light gray side bars. I can go into Screen Burn In Protection and change them to dark gray side bars, but I seem to have no option to change them to black.
In another post Samsung wrote:
"The options for the television, and something we recommend, is to choose either the light or dark option in the Screen Burn Protection Menu under Setup.
If you had black before, it may have been a setting on the cable box which would send a full 16x9 picture with black on the sides. But if the television detects a 4x3 source signal coming in, it will put up either the dark or light bars depending on your setting.
I hope that helps.
It's not a cable box issue, it's a DVD player and the DVD player doesn't create the gray bars. I assume you recommend gray side bars due to burn in issues, but I watch TV 1 or 2 hours a day. I am not going to get burn in. I just want my TV to have black bars in 4:3 like Sony, LG, and every other brand, which I now am wondering if I should have purchased, because I enjoy watching TV shows made in 4:3.
I did a lot of research on forums before I bought this TV. Please advise me on whether or not I can get black bars while watching TV in 4:3. Distorting my picture is not an option.
I appreciate your response and will post it on all the forums that I used to choose a TV. I do want to say that if there is no option for black side bars in 4:3, that is a Deal Breaker as far as I am concerned, and I will advise people as such.