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

Originally, the standard ratio for screens was 4:3. This screen ratio has been used for many years since several experiments found out that the human field of view (FOV) in their eyes was of the same ratio converted to 155° H x 120° V. As such, the 4:3 ratio it was used as the standard for filming or editing movies and television shows.

However, the movie industry started to experiment on screen rations or resolutions to make them distinctly different from what is seen on home televisions. As a result, the industry came up with the widescreen aspect ratio, which allows more picture content and creates a “wow factor” for the audience. The introduction of the widescreen was proven to be successful when there were more studios that have utilized it for producing films that premier on theaters. Since there was no governing body that sets standards on screen aspect ratios and resolutions back then, different aspect ratios started popping up across different film houses, with some of the popular ones being the Panavision ratio (2.20:1) and the much wider format called CinemaScope, which has a ratio of 2.39:1. With the help of the revolutionary widescreen aspect ratio, the film industry managed to get back its audience, as they were able to offer something new to oppose the casual viewing experience at home. On the other hand, television shows, such as soap operas and news programs, continued to use the 4:3 ratio.

When a governing body for aspect ratios was created, they have decided to unify the wide array of aspect ratios under a singular standard, and the geometric mean of the extreme ratios (figured out to be 1.33 and 2.39) was taken at approximately 1.78, thus resulting to a new aspect ratio called 16:9. The creation of the standard widescreen aspect ratio was done to efficiently cater to all the aspect ratios on the same screen in theaters by minimizing the presence of black bars found across the entire ratio spectrum.

Following the 16:9 ratio, screens that would accommodate it were manufactured. The resolution or detail (1280×720 or 1920×1080) was used as a measure of the horizontal and vertical pixel array size and the picture clarity of the screen.

What do the numbers mean in a screen resolution?

The numbers associated with screens are used to determine the number of pixels per unit in each type of screen resolution. However, some might say that the numbers indicated how many pixels there are on a single screen, which is actually not the case. To better explain the usage of the numbers, let us take a look at the 1980×1080 resolution. The “1980” is supposed to indicate the number of pixels that are arranged horizontally, while the “1080” is meant to determine the number of pixels arranged vertically. If you multiply 1980 to 1080, you will come up with the number 2138400, and that number represents the number of pixels on the screen.

The number of pixels, as well as the pixels per unit, depends on the monitor’s capability to produce pixels. If the monitor is not powerful enough, it may only have a 640×480 screen resolution, but if it is able to show videos in HD, then the monitor is capable of having a 1980×1080 resolution.

What do “1080i” and “1080p” mean?

Whenever you are looking for a new television set or a monitor for your computer, you may sometimes come across words like “1080p” and “1080i” that are indicated in a screen’s specs. Now that we know what the “1080” actually means, we must now uncover what the “p” and “i” stand for in these different screen resolutions.

The “I” stands for “interlaced,” and an interlaced screen would open have several horizontal lines that pop up across it. You can easily spot these horizontal lines when you get close to an interlaced monitor or television screen, although from far away, these lines would be difficult to see. Interlaced screens have these horizontal lines because they would often apply color to the odd lines first, like the 1st, 3rd, and 5th lines of pixels, and then the colors for the even lines would often come late. The even lines of pixels are what you would often see to be the black horizontal lines on the screen. Interlaced screens were more common in older television or CRT screens.

The “p” stands for “progressive,” and the progressive screen is considered to be the most common type of screen today. Progressive screens don’t have the horizontal lines found in interlaces screens since it has a faster refresh rate, which is the amount of time it takes for a screen to paint colors on pixels. The common refresh rate is 60 fps (frames per second), but modern progressive screens are capable of having a higher refresh rate.