Here's a crib sheet to the gobbledygook found on the back of your average DVD:

January 19, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST

— ASPECT RATIO The degree to which a film is letterboxed. A ratio of 2.35:1 means that for every inch the image is tall, it’s 2.35 inches wide; the higher the first number, the more severe the letterboxing.

— ANAMORPHIC WIDE-SCREEN A.k.a. ”enhanced for wide-screen TVs” or ”enhanced for 16×9 TVs.” The next generation of TVs will come equipped with a rectangular wide screen. This enhancement will allow the picture to expand to fill the new TV without having to artificially mask out any information. Also, high-end sets like the Sony WEGA series can interpret this enhancement, making for a substantially crisper picture.

— DOLBY DIGITAL/DTS Two forms of sound mastering. The number that follows a Dolby Digital mix — 2.0, 4.0, 5.1 — tells how many speakers audio information can be sent to (the ”.1” is your subwoofer). DTS automatically feeds all six speakers. You’ll need a Dolby Digital- or DTS-ready DVD player and amplifier with the appropriate decoders built in to utilize these. A whole mess of speakers wouldn’t hurt.

— DUAL LAYER How so much information is squeezed onto one side of the disc. Imagine two CDs on top of each other; the laser reads all of the info on the first CD, then skips to the one below it. Without dual-layer mastering, you’d have to get up and flip the disc in mid-movie. Horrors!

— THX Essentially, George Lucas’ seal of approval, named after his first feature, THX-1138. Some DVDs are remastered to meet exacting standards modeled after conditions in Lucasfilm’s screening and mixing rooms. Not that any DVD will sound that good in your house.

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