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HDTV Resolutions Explained

by Staff Writer

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Widescreen HDTV with a high resolution screen

One of the first things you will notice when beginning your search for the perfect HDTV is screen resolution. Screen resolution determines the clarity at which your television will display images. Essentially, the higher the resolution, the better the picture will be. Also, HDTVs display picture data differently than their tube-television counterparts, and those display methods are often described along with resolutions. This guide will help you learn more about the details of HDTV resolutions.

About HDTV Resolutions:

  1. 720p: Televisions with 720p resolution display images at a maximum of 1280 x 720 pixels. Although 720p is the lowest resolution of most HDTVs, the picture is still excellent. If you plan to purchase a digital television with a screen smaller than 37 inches, the quality of images in 720p is nearly indistinguishable from higher resolution HDTV sets.

  2. 1080i: If you're looking to purchase a larger television and want the clearest picture on a budget, 1080i is the way to go. These HDTVs have a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. The "i" in 1080i stands for interlaced scan, which means that half the lines that make up screen images are "redrawn" by your HDTV 60 times a second. Although this technique looks great with most media, fast-moving video such as sports footage does suffer slight blur at 1080i.

  3. 1080p: For those seeking the ultimate in entertainment clarity, 1080p resolution is undeniably the best option. A 1080p television makes no compromises in image quality, meaning you can enjoy media such as Blu-ray movies at the resolution they were created for. Every line of pixels on the screen is redrawn 60 times a second or faster, reducing motion-blur and creating a crisp picture.

  4. 480i and 480p: The 480i resolution is, to put it simply, standard TV resolution. You'll typically get 480p from a progressive scan DVD player on a regular TV, although many newer players are meant to work with HDTVs at 1080p. You should be able to expect any high-definition TV to support these lower resolutions. Most new DVDs and Blu-rays are made for higher resolutions, but they will scale down if you have an older TV.

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