With the release of what is, according to Philips, the world's first 21:9 aspect ratio HDTV, the Cinema 21:9, the company is attempting to end the era of black bars at the top and bottom of TVs that are playing films.
Until now, all HDTVs had an aspect ratio of 16:9. Films shot in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, when converted to DVD, can roughly fit onto 16:9 HDTVs without the need of black bars. Movies shot in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio have a wider picture. When these films are played at home, the black bars are necessary to see the entire picture -- without them, the image would be stretched or zoomed, and the right and left edges clipped off.
Philips has not yet gone into detail on the means by which the Cinema 21:9 will attempt to remedy this inconsistency. According to the company, you'll be able to view 2.35:1 content in full screen, without the black bars or zooming. In addition, standard 16:9 content from TV broadcasts and games will also be automatically adapted to fill the 21:9 screen.
Philips plans to release the Cinema 21:9 in the US in spring, with more information coming in February.
Update: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Panasonic, rather than Philips, is the maker of the Cinema 21:9.