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About TV Resolution

Anyone in the market for an HDTV is bound to stumble onto terms such as “720p,” “1080p,” and “1366 x 768 pixels” in regard to resolution. This guide will explain the basics of decoding these terms.


HDTV owes its sharper and clearer picture, as compared to regular televisions, to its higher resolution. Resolution is measured by pixels; while a regular TV can display images around 300,000 pixels, an HDTV is capable of displaying the same image at 1,000,000-2,000,000 pixels. All these extra pixels results in a high jump in image quality.

When picture resolution is discussed, it’s important to note that a video source, such as a DVD player or cable box, is just as important as the TV’s screen itself. Most HDTVs are now “fixed-pixel” displays, and will use a set value of pixels when generating images. Furthermore, this means that these devices have a native resolution that indicates the maximum degree of image detail it can produce; the three most common of which are 720p, 768p, and 1080p.

When resolution is listed as “N x N pixels,” it is an indicator of how many pixels the screen actually has when multiplying the horizontal count by the vertical one. As resolution count rises, pixels shrink and can generate a finder level of picture detail.

Video Source Resolution

Currently, the two most common HD source resolutions are 720p and 1080i. While 1080i is the most common, both formats have their own characteristics:

  • 1080i The “i” stands for interlaced, meaning that it displays at 30 frames per second. While this may seem like a drawback, it is perfectly fine for viewing slow-moving or detail-oriented programs.
  • 720p The “p” stands for progressive-scan and its 60 fps frame rate is suited to quick-moving imagery like that found in sports broadcasts and video games.

Consumers should be aware that video source resolution can stunt the picture it displays on an HDTV. An HDTV cannot enhance the image coming from a lower resolution video source, also known as “upconverting.” Conversely, when the video source is of a higher resolution than the screen, the image becomes “downconverted” and loses detail to fit.

Resolution and 3D TV

Currently, 3D TVs are either 720 or 1080 progressive scan displays. What matters to the scan is whether the model uses active or passive shutter glasses.

  • Active Shutter These glasses switch blocking the left and right images in the same manner as the TV. While each eye only sees that half of the image, both eyes get a full picture at the same resolution.
  • Passive Shutter These glasses function the same way as those used in movie theaters, splitting the picture into separate views for each eye. This results in the division of image resolution so that a 1080p picture becomes a 540p image to each eye.
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