... Wonder if there is any technical reason why they can't do widescreen SD and have the older boxes pillar box. Can they do that with a software update?
... Too many manufacturers, too much hassle trying to explain to everybody why they would need to change a setting, etc., etc., etc...
And I think more bandwidth would be needed too;
Because if you take DIRECTV's typical 4:3 SD resolution of only 480H x 480V pixels or less, and stretch out the 480H from 4:3 to a 16:9 AR, thats a 33% drop in horizontal resolution unless you increase the number of horizontal pixels by the same 33% or to around 642H.
Thus more SD bandwidth is required for that pixel increase.
So if you thinK DIRECTV SD channels look soft and blurry now at 4:3, stretching it's already poor resolution out to cover a larger 16:9 image grid will be even worse.