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Discover why the hype around 16:9 POS platforms is completely justified.

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

  • Why is 16.9 so good?

  • A brief history of aspect ratio

  • How to ensure a better checkout experience thanks to widescreen

Element POS Terminal Device
Element 16:9 POS

The sales environment has been massively and irreversibly affected by the coronavirus pandemic. In Australia, we are fortunate that after the latest lockdowns, life is again returning to "the new normal". As it does, it is more crucial time than ever to stay at the cutting edge of the innovation curve.

Walk into any shopping centre, and you'll see major retailers, smaller specialty shops, fast-food outlets and other businesses using 4:3 touchscreens. Why does this format still exist?

A scene from Georges Méliès‘s 1902 film A Trip to the Moon.
Georges Méliès‘s 1902

The 4:3 format is a vestige of electronic evolution. Also defined as 1.33.1, it was invented in 1892 by William Dickson, who was employed by Thomas Edison. Dickson used Eastman Kodak 35mm photographic film to create a rudimentary form of silent movie.

Many POS screen manufacturers are still clinging to the 4:3 format: a legacy of a bygone era; what consumers and retailers want now, however, is more screen real estate, thinner screens and higher resolution.

Winning trifecta - 16:9 POS

Virtually every living room in Australia has woken up to the benefit of 16:9 aspect ratio. Our phones use it, and the screens of our TVs and laptops are pretty much 16:9 all the way.

The reason POS terminals are lagging behind is because Industrial Panel PC manufacturers needed to adopt a standard that would ensure consistency across the market. At the time this technology emerged, 4:3 was still very much the dominant aspect ratio. Now that 16:9 is the status quo, it’s time to gear up into the next generation of longevity and futureproof hardware.

There are 3 solid, functional reasons why 16:9 gets 5 stars.

  1. Screen real estate. Widescreen normally translates to a higher overall pixel count, so you ultimately have more visual space to work with: more images, more graphics, more information to show the operator.

  2. More space means more touch points. By the same token, the wider screen also gives you more surface area to add options for input, more buttons, the option of sub-menus or variables… it’s greater power in the hands of the operator.

  3. Vertical or horizontal, no problem. The aspect ratio is so close to 2:1 that onscreen content can be rearranged as two squares side-by-side or over-and-under.

To be sure, 4:3 still has a place in artistic expression, photography, painting and other media. But as an aspect ratio to support the reality of how we transact in the 21st century, its reign is over.

The final mile

We only need to look as far as our own disappointing checkout experiences to know what NOT to do at the transaction stage. Element POS can help you avoid such a scenario, by supporting you with information and industry insights that will ease you through the transition to the big game that is widescreen 16:9.

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