Why did TVs switch from 4:3 to 16:9?

The reason TVs switched from the square-shaped 4:3 screen to the wider 16:9 screen is mainly because of the rise of high-definition television (HDTV) and the widescreen style.

Back in the 1950s, the movie industry started using wider screens to attract more viewers, and this led to 16:9 becoming the standard for HDTV and widescreen TVs.

Here are other reasons:

  • 16:9 is a more cinematic format that allows for a wider field of view and a more immersive viewing experience.
  • 16:9 is compatible with the HDTV standard that emerged in the late 1990s and became the norm for televisions and computer monitors.
  • 16:9 is the geometric mean between 4:3 (standard TV) and 2.35 (an average of typical movie ratios), so it can display both kinds of video with minimal letterbox bars.

This switch significantly improved the way we watch.

The choice of 16:9 was a balance between different ratios, and its popularity grew with the increase in HDTV broadcasts.

While square-shaped TVs were the norm for a long time, the move to widescreen was a response to changes in how we enjoy entertainment and technology, offering a more flexible and improved viewing experience.

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