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If you are considering buying a projector, computer monitor or external display for your laptop, the first thing you should contemplate is what format screen do you want to display your content.  There are two display formats available in the Canadian market.  The first is the traditional display format known as "standard" 4:3 aspect ratio, the second format is the increasingly popular "widescreen" 16:9 , especially for laptops and TV''s.

The decision between a widescreen format and standard format is an important on as it will effect how your displayed images appear on the screen.  Projector Source Canada can help you understand the differences between standard format and widescreen to make sure you choose the format that is right for you.

Why are there two aspect ratio formats?

Televisions have historically used the aspect ratio 4:3 (4 units measured horizontally to every 3 units measured vertically), the same aspect ratio that was used in the film industry known as the "Academy ratio".  By having TV screens match this 4:3 aspect ratio, movies previously photographed on film could be viewed on regular televisions.

During the 1950''s there was a change within the film industry to use widescreen images and it wasn''t until recently that TVs started to conform to the same 16:9 aspect ratio.  The newer TV widescreen formats have become extremely popular and have come down in price over the years.

With the introduction of high definition (HD) programing, more and more broadcasters are switching the aspect ratio of their television programmes from the traditional 4:3 aspect ratio to a 16:9 widescreen format.  The revitalization of the Canadian television industry has been largely attributed to the introduction of digital widescreen offerings.

Standard Aspect Ratio (4:3 format)

A standard TV with an aspect ratio that matches the NTSC or PAL broadcasting standards are designed for analog signals and use a square-like 4:3 aspect ratio.  Devices with a standard 4:3 aspect ratio are incapable of outputting High Definition or HD content.  

With analog signals being phased out across Canada by the CRTC, standard format displays will gradually become obsolete as analog signals are turned off across Canada and North America.

Widescreen Aspect Ratio (16:9 format)

Widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio is now the standard and will replace the traditional 4:3 square aspect ratio TV''s in Canada.  To take advantage of the benefits "true" widescreen can offer, you need to own both a widescreen television and DVD''s or content that is coded in a 16:9 aspect ratio.  This includes High Definition television content, which only comes in widescreen format.

Although widescreen 16:9 format is synonymous with High Definition content, 16:9 is also commonly used with standard definition television and DVDs.  The reason for this is that DVD film producers and TV broadcasters offer both 16:9 and 4:3 outputs.

Other display devices:

Projector panels

Nearly every fixed resolution projector available from  uses the standard 4:3 aspect ratio.  This means that the panel inside the projector, on which the desired image is to be mapped, is 1.3 times wider than it is high.  Although 4:3 is currently the norm, there are projectors on the market with the 16:9 aspect ratios and these may replace standard aspect ratio projectors the same way it has with television sets.


Widescreen laptop screens are now becoming more prominent due to the extra 25% of screen size offered and the ability to play high definition and HD content.  Additional benefits of a widescreen display are the added surface area of the device is more suitable for implementing a full sized keyboard.

Computer monitors

Widescreen 16:9 displays are becoming increasingly popular in computer monitors due to their ability to show multiple windows on-screen at the same time.  The aspect ratio that the majority of widescreen computer monitors use is actually 16:10 rather than 16:9.

The benefits of a widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio

The benefits of the widescreen aspect ratio format are numerous, so it is easy to see why widescreen devices have become so popular so quickly.  The benefits include:

The future format

In only a few years'' time, videos in widescreen format will be the only type available.  Soon, only widescreen televisions will be available for purchase.

Same size picture as films

Movies are now exclusively filmed using a 16:9 aspect ratio, meaning if you have a widescreen display device the video will be displayed without the black borders present in 4:3 television screens.

Blu-ray format

Blu-ray is increasingly replacing DVD format as they output films in High Definition. To make use of this it is necessary to have a widescreen 16:9 High Definition television.

View high definition content

High Definition content is only out putted in 16:9 aspect ratio resolutions of 1280×720 or 1920x1080.

25% increased viewing area

Pictures displayed using a widescreen aspect ratio show 25% more of an image than 4:3 aspect ratio pictures.
We hope you enjoyed this article by Projector Source Canada.  For more information or to purchase a display and projector for your business or home,  visit us online at

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