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When watching high-definition cable programming on an HDTV, you may notice that the set crops out text and station logos. This effect is the result of overscan, which HDTV makers often enable by default to eliminate the visually displeasing, flickering white bar of digital information that appears above HD programming. TV manufacturers choose the setting because most set-top boxes--cable and satellite alike--don't hide the digital information well. However, it's important to turn this feature off at times, especially when you're using a Blu-ray Disc player to watch 1080p content on a 1080p HDTV. If you don't see every pixel you should see, you're not viewing a true 1920 by 1080 progressive-scan picture. The name of the viewing mode differs from brand to brand, but it's commonly called Dot-by-Dot, Point-to-Point, Just, or simply Overscan Off. If you're shopping for a new HDTV, make sure that the set you want has the option to disable overscan mode; not all sets do.
This story, "Tech Trend: For HDTV, Don't Overlook Overscan" was originally published by PCWorld.