Find Black Bars on Your Screen Annoying? Here’s What You Can Do

We’ve talked about the black bars on your screen before. They are there because your screen has a set shape and the content you watch can come in many different shapes. There is no single screen shape that will eliminate black bars. If you find the black bars on your screen annoying, there are some things you can do to reduce how much you notice them. Let’s discuss.

Get A Bigger TV

A lot of times the problem with the black bars on your screen is that they are reducing the size the image. If you are watching a cinemascope movie on a traditional widescreen display, you’ll have large black bars on the top and the bottom of the image. While the black bars are there so that you can see the whole image, the perceived size of the image is smaller than the size of your screen.

The problem is that your TV is too small. If you researched the correct screen size for your seating distance, the black bars wouldn’t bother you nearly as much. If you find the black bars make your image too small to see, the problem isn’t the bars. It’s your screen size.

Better Contrast

Oftentimes you find the black bars on your screen annoying not because they are there, but because you can see them. This is because the black bars aren’t really black. They are grey. They stick out because they contrast with the edges of your TV or projection screen. Your screen bevel will be completely black and will often blend in with the darkened room. The grey bars not only remind you that you are losing screen real estate, but that they exist.

The solution here is to get a display that has better contrast. Generally, we’d recommend an OLED. OLED’s have perfect contrast because each pixel can be individually turned completely off. This means that your black bars will be truly black. LED’s can have light-bleed that will cause your black bars to look grey. This is even true of the higher-priced LED’s with Full Array Local Dimming. If you turn your lights off but your black bars don’t blend into the edges of your screen because they aren’t black, an OLED is the solution.

Projection Screen Masking

Lastly, we are going to suggest a solution for projectors that will help, but not completely alleviate the issue. If you find the black bars on your projection screen annoying, it is certainly partially because they aren’t black. Even with grey screens, it is nearly impossible for a projector to achieve anything close to OLED or high-end LED contrast. The solution that has been developed is masking.

To begin with, motorized or manual masking allows you to change the aspect ratio of your screen by changing the bevels. This means that your black bars can be truly black with your projector. The problem is that it doesn’t really fix the issue any longer.

Back in the day, most content has fairly fixed aspect ratios. Now, not only do the aspect ratios change depending on the intended medium (TV/streaming vs movies), but can change within the content. When you are watching a movie or TV show, scenes may have different aspect ratios. This is becoming more and more common. If you decide to use masking with your projector screen, you may end up with some scenes having parts of the images cut off by the masking.

Take Away

We get it that the black bars on your screen can be annoying. If you can afford an OLED and have full light control of your room, the black bars can disappear. But if you can’t, you are going to have to live with them. Even with an OLED, if you don’t have full light control, you will still be able to see that not all of your screen is being used. The best solution is to have a screen that is large enough so that the reduced image size isn’t distracting and the bars are as black as possible.

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