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Television Measurements and Aspect Ratios

Determining the correct replacement television on a claim can be an adventure in itself. There are many aspects to consider when speaking to an insured about their television. One of the hurdles ReSource faces with determining like kind and quality product is explaining the difference between older cathode-ray tube (CRT) or “tube” television’s and newer widescreen versions. Here are the basics to get us started!

Television Measurements (diagonal dimensions)

Most television’s are sized in terms of the diagonal measurement of the screen. A “60 inch Television” would have a measurement of 60 inches from one corner to its opposite diagonal corner. Measuring in this format allows for consistent comparison of screen area regardless of the screen shape.

On new widescreen televisions (such as LCD, Plasma, and LED models) the measurement is taken from the corners of the screen’s display area. This gives the size of what you are actually able to see, the viewable part of the screen.

Older CRT televisions or “tube” televisions are generally measured diagonally from the corners of the tube. This can be misleading due to the fact that the tube is usually larger than the actual viewable area of the screen. So your 40” tube television may only have a 36” viewable screen.

Aspect Ratio

Aspect ratio of an image is the ratio of the width of the image to its height. This is expressed as two numbers separated by a colon (for example x:y) and pronounced "x-to-y” or “x-by-y.”

Traditional CRT televisions have an aspect ratio of 4:3 which has been around since the inception of television. The image is 3/4ths as tall as it is wide. This denotes a “standard” screen and it is almost square in shape.

LCD, Plasma, and LED televisions are considered “widescreen.” Widescreens usually have an aspect ratio of 16:9; they are much wider than they are tall.

4:3 Aspect Ratio (old broadcast format) 16:9 Aspect Ratio (new broadcast format)

When viewing wide-screen HDTV content (the broadcasting standard as of 9/9/2009) on a 4:3 television the material will often be “letterboxed.” You might recognize this format from buying “widescreen” movies which show the mattes (black bars) above and below the image while viewing. Letterboxing reduces larger ratio images to fit smaller ratio screens; the visual height of the content is reduced to show the entire image on screen.

Example of Letterboxing

These are a couple of the aspects considered when looking at moving someone from a CRT television to a newer model. In essence, when viewing the new HDTV broadcast signal on your television, a 29.37” widescreen television would give you the same viewing height as a 32” CRT television, but with 1.04” more viewing width!

The correct replacement screen size can also be determined by using a Screen Size Comparison Calculator found online.