iPad Movie Viewing Experience: Clarity and Quality Unveiled

Enjoying films on the latest iPad might not be as satisfying as one would hope. The device’s 1024×768 pixel screen maintains a 4:3 ratio, reminiscent of the old CRT TVs, a format many have upgraded from to enjoy the broader 16×9 ratio of modern HDTVs.

This aspect ratio difference means that viewing 16×9 content results in significant black bars across the top and bottom of the screen, as illustrated by the green bar in the accompanying image.

The situation deteriorates further with standard non-widescreen films, which have a 1.85:1 ratio, leading to even more prominent black bars outside the blue area.

For films shot in the widescreen 2:35:1 ratio, such as Star Wars and the newer Star Trek, the iPad screen becomes mostly black bars, with the actual movie appearing as a thin strip in the middle.

Moreover, the iPad’s resolution falls short of the 1080p high-definition standard, as noted in the 1080p standard, lacking the necessary pixel count.

While reading on iBooks may be feasible, watching movies on the iPad is compromised. Many users already find the screens on iPhones or iPod touches too small for enjoyable movie viewing.

The iPad offers a larger display, but it still involves significant compromises.

Special thanks to Blake Walters for the original chart and to Arash Ayrom for the corrected version. The accuracy of the original graphic was questioned, but the revised graphic should clarify any discrepancies.


Joshua is a dedicated writer for TUAW, bringing readers the latest news and insights on all things Apple. With a keen eye for detail, Joshua covers everything from the newest iPhone releases to the latest updates in macOS. His articles are a go-to source for Apple enthusiasts who want to stay informed about their favorite products, including the iPad, Apple Watch, and MacBook. Joshua’s straightforward and engaging writing style makes complex tech topics easy to understand for everyone.