What is the Aspect Ratio on an LCD TV?

LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) TVs boast bright, high-definition pictures in a thin, lightweight cabinet, making it a great choice for living or family rooms bathed in normal light. Though the screen size may seem to be an obvious indicator of the way a video image will be displayed, another important factor is the aspect ratio.

  1. Definition

    • The aspect ratio refers to the proportion between the screen's width and its height, expressed by two numbers separated by a colon. For example, a 16:9 aspect ratio means that the screen is 16 units wide by 9 units long. Video images matching these proportions display correctly while those that use different ratios are distorted.

    4:3

    • Standard television signals use an almost square 4:3 aspect ratio. Video games, many computer displays and most TV shows use this ratio, as did movies made before the 1950s. In 1953, 20th Century Fox introduced a wider ratio known as Cinemascope that eventually evolved into Panavision, the most common wide-screen version today, with a ratio of 2.35:1. The standard movie size today is the Academy Flat, which uses 1.85:1.

    16:9

    • High-definition television (HDTV) uses an aspect ratio of 16:9, which more closely approximates the movie aspect ratio. More and more network and cable shows are being filmed with this ratio. In addition, certain video games with adapters can use this proportion.

    Black bars

    • Filling a 4:3 image into a 16:9 screen produces a distorted picture. To prevent distortion, such images are displayed with black bars on the left and right sides, so the picture retains its square shape. Showing a 16:9 video on a 4:3 screen cuts off the left and right sides of the image. To eliminate cropping, such images are shrunk vertically and appear with black bars on the top and bottom.

    Recommendations

    • With the growth of HDTV, screens with the 4:3 ratio are becoming harder to find. Your next set will most likely be 16:9, with broadcasters automatically adding bars to 4:3 video. You can also manually adjust the aspect ratio through the set's on-screen menu systems.

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References

  • Photo Credit William Hook: Flickr.com

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