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Vizio's New 58-inch 3D HDTV Gets Rid of Widescreen Black Bars

Vizio is introducing a widescreen 3D HDTV with a 21:9 aspect ratio.

TV-maker Vizio says to get ready to watch widescreen Blu-ray movies at home without any black bars on the top and bottom of the screen thanks to a new 58-inch 3D HDTV slated to launch in mid-March. Vizio will be the first HDTV maker to release an HDTV in North America with a 21:9 aspect ratio, the company said.

Currently, widescreen HDTVs have a wide format aspect ratio of 16:9, which means that for every 16 units of width the display is 9 units tall. The downside, however, is that any content displayed in cinematic anamorphic format (such as 2.35:1) cannot occupy the entire display. Instead, to maintain the correct proportions, the movie sits in the center of the screen with black bars above and below the displayed image. That will change, Vizio says, with its new 21:9 format. This format allows Blu-ray widescreen movies to use the entire screen, so no need for those top and bottom black bars.

Vizio has been showing off its 21:9 HDTVs during the annual Consumer Electronics Show for several years. PCWorld got its first look at the display technology back in January 2010 and then again in 2011. Both times Vizio was only showing off the technology and had no products to announce.

During CES 2012, Vizio announced three 21:9 aspect ratio sets including a 50-, 58- and 71-inch set. Only the 58-inch set is ready to ship, however, as a Vizio representative told PCWorld it had nothing to announce for the 50- and 71-inch models. An earlier report by USA Today said the 50- and 71-inch models will ship during the second half of 2012.

Vizio's new 58-inch CinemaWide LCD HDTV features 2560-by-1080 high-definition resolution, a 120Hz refresh rate, 5.5 millisecond response time, five HDMI ports, twoUSB 2.0 ports, Etheokrnet, and 802.11n Wi-Fi. You also get a Bluetooth remote with a QWERTY keypad and four pairs of 3D glasses. The set itself measures 56.7 inches wide by 29-inches tall (with stand), and is 1.8 inches thick (not including the stand).

Vizio also offers its typical suite of Internet apps including Flickr, Netflix, Rhapsody, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, VUDU, and Yahoo TV Widgets. When the new CinemaWide displays a TV app, such as Fantasy Football or Facebook, it shows up on the left side of the screen. The right side, meanwhile, displays a native 16:9 image.

The new 58-inch CinemaWide set will come with a hefty $3,500 price tag, and will be available in time for the NCAA's March Madness basketball tournaments, a Vizio representative confirmed to PCWorld. Vizio is not yet taking pre-orders for the new HDTV, but you can sign up for an email notification on Vizio's site.

Sounds like a great TV, now all you need is to find an extra three grand and change to buy it.

Connect with Ian Paul (@ianpaul) on Twitter and Google+, and with Today@PCWorld on Twitter for the latest tech news and analysis.

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