TV Aspect Ratios Explained: Widescreen 16:9 and 4:3

Photo of author

AVFive, your guide to the immersive world of high-fidelity audio. With a passion for sound that transcends the ordinary, AVFive is your trusted source for all things home theater speakers and equipment. 

The phrase “widescreen television” is heard rather frequently these days, but what exactly does that term refer to? Through reading this in-depth analysis of television aspect ratios, you will gain an understanding of the distinctions between 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios.

The phrase “TV aspect ratio” crops up quite frequently when people are discussing screens. Some people may use the terms “widescreen” and “4 by 3,” but few people fully understand what these terms entail.


When looking for a new television or projector screen, there is a seemingly never-ending stream of technical jargon that can make things confusing for consumers. This is just another example of that. You don’t understand it, and neither does the salesperson for the new TV they are trying to sell you, therefore they are having trouble closing the deal.

However, the vast majority of this knowledge is not essential to your continued existence. A significant portion of it consists only of technical jargon and statistics that are designed to make you feel better about the substantial new investment you have made.



However, becoming conversant in the relevant terminology can assist you in developing a more profound understanding for the technologies available to you and in making more efficient use of those technologies.

What purpose does that aspect ratio even serve when it comes to your television?

What Is Your TV Screen’s Aspect Ratio?

The term “aspect ratio” relates to the form of a television screen, or the proportion of its width to its height. When searching for a projector screen, you can furthermore run across this word.


It is a concept that is comparable to that of a movie’s aspect ratio; however, this article will focus on the shape of your screen, as opposed to the video image that will be displayed on that screen.

To determine the aspect ratio of a picture, simply divide the width by the height of the picture. Therefore, if you are familiar with the aspect ratio of a television screen, you will be familiar with its overall shape.

What Does “4:3 Aspect Ratio” Mean?

The ratio of the width of a TV screen to its height is referred to as its aspect ratio, and the most common ratio is 4:3. The width of the screen in a screen with an aspect ratio of 4:3 is four units, while the height of the screen is three units. This aspect ratio was quite prevalent for analogue television sets and early computer monitors; however, it has generally been supplanted by wider aspect ratios, such as 16:9, for usage in the displays of current televisions and computer monitors.


A screen with an aspect ratio of 4:3 has a more square form to it, in contrast to a screen with an aspect ratio of 16:9, which has a more rectangular appearance. This can make the screen better suited for viewing older media such as television shows, movies, and video games that were initially developed for displays with a 4:3 aspect ratio. On the other hand, a significant number of contemporary films and television programmes are created in widescreen format, which can cause black bars to appear on the top and bottom of the screen when viewed on a television with a 4:3 aspect ratio.


It is important to note that although screens with a 4:3 aspect ratio are less common today, they are still available and can be a good choice for certain applications, such as displaying older content or for use in professional video editing setups where a 4:3 aspect ratio may be preferred. Although less common, screens with a 4:3 aspect ratio are still available and can be a good choice for certain applications.

What Does “16:9 Aspect Ratio” Mean?

As a term for the ratio of a TV screen’s width to its height, “16:9” or “widescreen” is commonly used. The width of a screen with a 16:9 ratio is 16 units, and the height is 9 units. This aspect ratio is the de facto norm for today’s televisions and computer monitors, and it’s used to play back widescreen media like movies and TV shows, as well as video games.


When viewing widescreen video, the 16:9 aspect ratio’s broader and more rectangular screen is ideal. This ratio is closer to the one used in movie theatres, thus it provides a more cinematic experience by expanding the viewing area and making the picture more immersive.

Blog_B185_Body Image_1920x800_6

It’s important to remember that while though the 16:9 aspect ratio is the norm for newer TVs and computer monitors, many older shows and movies were shot in the 4:3 ratio, which might cause black bars on the edges of the screen when seen on a widescreen display. But many new TVs have functions that automatically change the TV’s aspect ratio to reduce the size of the black bars or to zoom in on the image to fill the whole screen.


You should now feel more secure about another piece of jargon that you will come across because you have gained some knowledge about the television aspect ratio. Because the widescreen aspect ratio is currently the standard for all newly manufactured computer and television screens, it is beneficial to have some knowledge of its history.

These days, there aren’t as many older televisions with a 4:3 aspect ratio as there are 1.33:9 computer monitors and projector screens. When you watch a movie using your DVD or Blu-ray player, do you ever find yourself wondering why those vertical black bars appear on the screen?

You are in a great position to find out the reason for something now that you have an understanding of the aspect ratios of TV screens.

Hey there! Some links on this page are affiliate links which means that, if you choose to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I greatly appreciate your support!

Meet the Author

Discover the world of high-fidelity audio with Ashwin, your go-to expert at With a deep passion for home theater speakers and equipment, Ashwin offers insightful articles and reviews, helping both newcomers and seasoned enthusiasts craft the perfect audio experience. Join the quest for sonic excellence today!

Leave a Comment