Thursday, August 12, 2010

Screen size

The size of an approximately rectangular display is usually given as the distance between two opposite screen corners, that is, the diagonal of the rectangle. One problem with this method is that it does take into account the fact that when a rectangle with a given length to its diagonal, becomes more rectangular, and less square (its aspect ratio increases), and at the same time its diagonal remains the same, then the area of the rectangle decreases. That is, given the same diagonal, the area of the display decreases if its aspect ratios increases. For example, a 4:3 21 in (53 cm) monitor has an area of about 211 sq in (1,360 cm2), while a 16:9 21-inch widescreen has about 188 sq in (1,210 cm2).

This method of measurement is inherited from the method used for the first generation of CRT television, when picture tubes with circular faces were in common use. Being circular, only their diameter was needed to describe their size. Since these circular tubes were used to display rectangular images, the diagonal measurement of the rectangle was equivalent to the diameter of the tube's face. This method continued even when cathode ray tubes were manufactured as rounded rectangles.

Another problematic practice was using the size of a monitor's imaging element, rather than the size of its viewable image, when describing its size in publicity and advertising materials. Especially on CRT displays, a substantial portion of the imaging element is concealed behind the case's bezel or shroud in order to hide areas outside the monitor's safe area due to overscan. These practices were seen as deceptive, and widespread consumer objection and lawsuits eventually forced most manufacturers to instead measure viewable size.

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