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Just How Big Is the Enterprise's Viewscreen?
By Jason Chen, 1:00 PM on Wed May 6 2009

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I woke up at 3AM last night with my mind racing. The extremely important question that jolted me awake: How big is the Enterprise's viewscreen? So I did the math.

First off, it depends on which Enterprise you're talking about. The original Enterprise of the '60s, which I've been watching Season 1 of on Blu-ray (quite a good restoration, btw), had what seemed like a tiny *** screen when compared to the IMAX-like experience of the new movie Enterprise. But it's not actually that small.

Using the combined knowledge of the Star Fleet Technical Manual and some screenshots of the episodes, I was able to determine that the screen is a 136-inch display with a 1.73:1 aspect ratio. That's actually smaller than the retina-searing 150-inch Panasonic plasma that we played with before. Yes, Adam Frucci and various captains of industry that have way too much money have viewed things in their own home on a larger display than a captain of a STARSHIP.

But Picard isn't going to be showed up by 21st century technology. His glorious Enterprise D has a 212-inch screen with a 1.92:1 aspect ratio, which is big enough for Riker to jam chairs through while Picard's off in a fantasy land with Whoopi Goldberg. Nice job, Riker.

Not only is this screen gigantic, it supposedly displays stuff in three-dimensions, shifting views or something so Jean-Luc can put a face to Troi's feelings of "he's hiding something". The Star Trek Wiki explains thusly:

While it is a subtle effect, the viewscreen seen throughout Star Trek: The Next Generation clearly displayed 3-D images. This effect was created in some scenes by providing multiple angles on the viewer, with the image on screen displayed at a corresponding angle, rather than a flat, single angle shot.

But what about the newest technology? What have we learned from years of actual consumer electronics development that the tech-consultants on the movie set could incorporate into the latest iteration of the Enterprise? "Bigger is better."

The display on new-Kirk's ship looks massive, but only because it's so wide. If you're measuring the screen diagonally in display-talk, it's around 326-inches, which is larger in absolute terms than even Picard's screen. It also has a 3.25:1 display ratio, making it wider than most film ratios. But if you're talking pure width, it measures about 26 feet across. Quite impressive.

If they ever do remake TNG, I suspect that the viewscreen will wrap entirely around the side of the bridge all the way to the back where neo-Worf and neo-Geordi will be able to see what's going on behind the Enterprise. It's easier to turn your head to see a display than to tell someone to press a button to change the view.

So yes, this is our dream for when we go into space. Not only will we be able to be in space, we'll have really, really big screens to watch stuff on.

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