Widescreen is a term describing the aspect ratio of a monitor or television display. Some Standard Definition TVs (SDTV) and all High Definition TVs (HDTV)come in widescreen television formats. Widescreen-format images have an aspect ratio greater than 4:3, which stands for four units of width for three units of height. Widescreen HDTV is 16:9.

Widescreen-format monitors have recently entered the market. Most companies now opt to manufacture 16:10 aspect ratio models, virtually abandoning the 4:3 format.

Most motion pictures shown today are in the 16:9 format and are optimally viewed on a widescreen monitor or television. Picture displays on standard TVs have a 4:3 aspect ratio, meaning some parts of the image are cropped. Picture displays on widescreen TVs present the entire image. Widescreen is sometimes referred to as “letterbox” because of its rectangular shape.


Widescreen format displays are optimal for computer playback due to the aspect ratio of modern DVDs and some TV programs. This display, compared to the 4:3 display, is closer to the aspect ratio of the common keyboard. This is important for laptops, where the total surface area of the device is limited.


Some old programs, such as computer games, were created for full-screen monitors. The image becomes deformed when such programs are displayed on widescreen monitors.

Some older video drivers or graphics controllers cannot display widescreen resolutions. Images are usually stretched horizontally if a widescreen monitor is used with these graphic controllers. Video driver companies may add updates supporting widescreen resolutions, although this does not always occur.

Installing a more recent graphics controller supporting widescreen resolution or reconfiguring the widescreen monitor may allow the proper translation of the images to the widescreen format.