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Summary:

Excitement and discussion over the iPad’s potential as a media consumption device is fierce, but one element that’s not really debateable is how, exactly, video will be displayed on the device. The Unofficial Apple Blog yesterday posted a graphic laying out how various aspect ratios of […]

via The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Excitement and discussion over the iPad’s potential as a media consumption device is fierce, but one element that’s not really debateable is how, exactly, video will be displayed on the device. The Unofficial Apple Blog yesterday posted a graphic laying out how various aspect ratios of films will play out on the new Apple device. And it turns out that unless you’re watching a classic film or a pre-2000s TV show shot in a 4:3 aspect ratio, you’re not going to be making full use of that 9.7″ screen.

via The Unofficial Apple Weblog

The aspect ratio issue might be a small one, but it’s been a key issue for hardcore media consumers ever since film and TV began to move digitally. It’s something I started observing over a decade ago, in fact — in the late 90s, when the DVD was just beginning to inch its way into the American home, I was working part-time in an independent video store that was one of the first to rent and sell the new format. (They’re one of the last few mom-and-pop stores still in business, by the way — if you’re ever in Mountain View, stop by Videoscope and say hi to Nona for me.)

As a budding cinephile, I often found myself in the position of explaining to customers that were used to VHS why DVD and laserdiscs were a superior format. And a key part of my argument was the fact that unlike on tape, most films on DVD were released in the original aspect ratio — which, for the average consumer watching TV on their 4:3 CRTs, was bewildering. At that time, most people had no idea that when they watched a VHS tape of a film shot in a 1.85:1 or 2.35:1 aspect ratio, they were literally watching only a percentage of the original image, because those versions were formatted to fit traditional 4:3 screens.

Some understood what this meant and chose to upgrade — others, though, didn’t care because they didn’t like “all that black space” on the screen. Of course, that was the late ’90s. Since then, 16:9 HD TVs have gotten a foothold in the market and most consumers have gotten used to the black bars — even the films of Stanley Kubrick, who was a legendary widescreen holdout, are getting released in their theatrical aspect ratio.

Which video services are available for the iPad will definitely be a key issue for those considering purchasing the device. However, the question to raise is this — will a consumer’s tolerance of “the black space” be different on the iPad? On a very basic level, after all, the device is designed to be held intimately — a much different user experience than watching a TV across the room. Up close, it could be that people grow frustrated with only some of their screen in use.

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  1. I think this is also a great opportunity to push video consumption to the next level

  2. I totally agree with this. The only way for the black space to make sense on screen is if they were to enable some ACTUAL multi-tasking. Think of the possiblities of that black space pulling in email, social media, aim, wikipedia–to actually make the video experience something beyond just a “portable” screen into something interactive. Apple really dropped the ball in this release.

    1. Oooh, that’s a really good call.

    2. That would have been a neat feature and great move by Apple. In fact, any new feature would have been a great move. I’m waiting for v2.

  3. Mi otro blog… » Blog Archive » iPad: El iPod Touch crece Tuesday, February 2, 2010

    [...] el doble que la del iPod Touch y que tiene una relación de aspecto diferente (y que parece ser peor según los expertos). Otras diferencias destacables son que que además de WiFi, iPad ofrece la posibilidad de disponer [...]

  4. Apple Looks to Corner the Video Market With 99-Cent TV Shows Thursday, February 11, 2010

    [...] iPad has some limitations, of course. Its 4:3 aspect ratio results in a tremendous loss of screen real estate when viewing video in the 1.85:1 or 2.35:1 aspect ratio in which most movies — and now TV [...]

  5. The Ipad looks like fun to play with, but I doubt if you can really work with it? But many people will buy it because of it look.

  6. video converter ipad Tuesday, June 8, 2010

    dvd to ipad converter can convert dvd to the ipad formats.

  7. ipad converter mac Thursday, October 7, 2010

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  8. mac iPad converter Thursday, February 17, 2011

    yeah, I completely agree with your views, as is known to everyone, with the growing number of ipad owners, ipad is becoming more and more popular all over the world! it is already a trend!

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