As to the last part...
I've got a Sony TRV33E (PAL) and leave it on widescreen mode all the time.
If I do my editting in Premier 6.5 using widescreen setting and author my disks in Encore using widescreen setting I get the equivalent of an anamorphic DVD out the end.
I typically have my DVD player set to widescreen mode and my TV does the picture stretching for me and I get a good 16:9 picture taking up all the screen.
Set the DVD player to letterbox and you get black bars top and bottom on a 4:3 TV. Ste the p&S and you get a 4:3 picture cut from themiddel of your widescreen movie.
All this, just as you would hope. It's why I got the 33 rather than the 19 or 22! Mates at work are dead jealous because it appears to be a true widescreen setting o the camera. They have much more expensive pro-sumer models and don't. They're gutted!