Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Aspect Ratio Matters

The iPad screen is an Apple anomaly.  It has a 4:3 aspect ratio - like 35 mm film or 50 year old tube televisions. iPods, iPhones, iMacs and MacBooks all have wide screens that are roughly a 16:9 aspect ratio.  Why is the iPad the exception?

The only explanation: Apple intended the iPad to be used vertically (in portrait mode).  They had a vision that we would all be reading magazines and multi-column newspapers on the iPad.  Oops.  It is not turning out that way.

The PlayBook has a modern 16:9 aspect ratio that lets me use larger fonts and see almost as much web content on a screen less than half the size. How is that? Using the PlayBook in landscape mode lets me see wider web pages than an iPad in portrait mode.

Movies look great on the PlayBook. Content fills the entire screen. The same movie on an iPad has black borders top and bottom.  Not the pristine user experience that Apple claims.

4:3 aspect ratios are dead. I am glad RIM didn't try to raise them from the grave.

BONUS: Here's a spy shot of the iPad 3 showing how Apple has 'solved' the aspect ratio problem


  1. If the pixels on my current monitor are square, I'd say that looks 1:1. Hmm. not much display computation required there when you rotate the device.

    They should call it the iPad 2(superscript), i.e. squared.

  2. I agree that Apple screwed up not having a 16X9 screen ratio. BUT the larger size probably delivers a better movie experience than Playbook even if it doesn't utilize the entire screen. The movie display is larger. (Although it's acknowledged that the Playbook has the same effective resolution in a smaller size, perhaps making for a nicer image).