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A Brief History of Screen Aspect Ratios

3D character with a retro TV and a modern widescreen TV. Isolated on white background.Does anyone still remember the days when there was just one standard screen aspect ratio that everyone used for their television and computer monitors? It feels like eons ago, and some of the youngsters out there may not have been around yet. But trust us when we say those days did exist. And a few of your loyal friends at Azar Pixel remember them well.

Before flat-screen TVs, 4:3 was that standard aspect ratio. After all, it was based on the shape of a classic 35 mm strip of film, which was the mass-produced film of choice on the market at the time. Once widescreen film took hold in the 1950s, aspect ratios began to change. But that was only the beginning. The 4:3 ratio still exists, yet so do 16:9, 16:10, 5:4, 2:1, and more. The possibilities are endless — but to the untrained consumer, it’s also endless confusion.

Thankfully, you know a guy! While we pride ourselves on being your LED digital display experts for repair, design, sales, and service, we also have a passion for educating our clients.

The point of today’s post is to provide a brief history of modern screen aspect ratios and the reason why they exist today.

Aspect ratios you recognize but don’t know what they mean

The term “aspect ratio” refers to the relationship between an image’s width and height. It is written as two numbers separated by a colon. If the first number is the largest (16:9), the image will be horizontal. The image will be more vertical if the second number in the ratio is larger (4:5).

There are numerous standard aspect ratios available today. Here are a few you might recognize:

1:1 — Square image used in some earlier handheld devices and even a few modern devices

5:4 — Early television and older large-format computer monitors

4:3 — Traditional television and older computer monitors

1.6180:1 — The Golden Ratio (a+b is to a, as a is to b. In other words, roughly almost 2:1)

16:10 — A common computer screen ratio

16:9 — The standard for HD video; standard U.S. and U.K. digital broadcast TV

Until about 2003, most computer monitors had a 4:3 aspect ratio, though some had 5:4. Over the next three years, computer monitors with 16:10 aspect ratios became more common — first in laptops and later in stand-alone monitors.

By 2008, 16:10 overtook 4:3 as the most sold aspect ratio for LCD monitors and was the most used ratio for laptops.

The primary reason for the move to 16:9 was production efficiency. Since display panels for TVs use the 16:9 aspect ratio, it was more efficient for display manufacturers to produce computer display panels in the same aspect ratio. However, there was criticism over the lack of vertical screen real estate compared to 16:10 displays of the same screen diagonal. Productivity-oriented tasks, such as editing documents or spreadsheets and using design or engineering applications, were better suited for 16:10.

Today, many brands are opting for the taller version, moving back to 16:10 from 16:9 or providing both options.

The importance of size standards for modern video displays

  • The human eye feels comfortable viewing standard size ratios.
  • Much of the content produced these days is designed for standard size ratios.
  • Standard ratios are used on the computer monitors that design the video displays.
  • While any size can be designed and installed, standard ratios are generally less expensive.

Call Azar Pixel today!!

Azar Pixel is your one-stop LED digital display expert in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, in Texas, and throughout the United States! Our Azar Pixel LED products are all designed with your needs in mind and assembled in the USA. This guarantees our clients that they will not have to suffer the extended turnaround times and added expense of ordering products from overseas. In addition, our products are providing jobs for Americans, not overseas workers.

When you think of LED digital display, think of Azar Pixel. And then pick up the phone and give us a call.

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azarman

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