Tag Archives: Cellphones

Why are screen resolutions like 1920×1080 rather than 2000×1000?

Originally, the standard was 4:3 since several experiments found that the human eye’s field of view (FoV) was of the same ratio (155° H x 120° V). Hence it was continued as the standard for film, camera and later for TV as well.

Now Hollywood industry had to be something different compared to the home television. As a result, Hollywood came up with widescreen movies with more picture content which created the wow factor and was successful in drawing back crowds to theaters. Since there was no standards body back then, several aspect ratios started cropping up across different film houses, some of the popular ones being Panavision ratio of 2.20:1 and a much wider format called CinemaScope of ratio 2.39:1. This way, Hollywood managed to get back its audience for movies, while casual viewing at home like soap operas and news continued with the 4:3 ratio.

Going forward, to accommodate this wide array of aspect ratios under a singular standard, the geometric mean of the extreme ratios (1.33 and 2.39) was taken at approx 1.78, rounded to whole numbers as 16:9. This was done to efficiently cater to all the aspect ratios under the same screen by minimizing the presence black bars across the entire ratio spectrum.

Following this 16:9 ratio, screens were manufactured. The resolution or detail (1280×720, 1920×1080) was just a measure of the horizontal and vertical pixel array size and correspondingly, picture clarity.