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Video: HDTV Resolution

Julie Govan is the Brand Manager at Crutchfield, and has been writing about consumer electronics since 1999. Her areas of expertise include home theater, surround sound, digital cameras, and HDTV. In her spare time, she also writes book reviews and fiction. She earned a B.A. in English from Davidson College, and went on to receive a master's degree in English literature from the University of Virginia.

More from Julie Govan

720p, 1080i, 1080p — HDTV resolution can seem like a confusing numbers game. Find out what the numbers mean for your HDTV and high-def video sources.

Video Transcript

Julie: . I'm Julie. In this video I'm going to explain HDTV resolution, including 1080p. TV makers use picture resolution numbers like 720p or 1080p to describe how sharp the picture is on their HDTVs. That is the amount of picture information a TV can display. Now, throwing around these numbers can make this topic seem pretty complicated, but the stuff you really need to know isn't hard, so here goes.

Today's digital TVs create their pictures using a grid of dots called pixels. Generally, more pixels mean a sharper picture. So an HDTV with top of the line 1080p resolution can show a more detailed picture than an HDTV with 720p resolution. You may be wondering if they're both high definition. Will I really see a difference? Chances are you're going to spot it. If your TV only has 720p screen resolution, but you're watching a 1080p Blu-ray movie, it's kind of like trying to shove ten pounds of sugar in a five pound bag. Your TV has to throw away some detail to fit that 1080p image on the screen. But with a 1080p screen resolution you can see every type of high-def signal without losing anything. That extra detail is especially visible on today's larger screens. That's why we usually recommend a 1080p TV for your main viewing area where you're likely to have the largest screen in your house.

Now when it comes to the resolution of video signals as opposed to screen resolution, there are just a couple of things you need to know. First, the "p" in resolutions like 720p and 1080p stands for progressive, while the "i" in resolutions like 1080i stands for interlaced. The main thing to remember here is that a progressive signal has twice as much picture information as an interlaced signal with the same resolution and generally looks a little more solid and stable, with on screen motion that's a little more fluid.

Second, although you will find standard definition 480p TV signals and high definition 720p and 1080i TV signals, you may be surprised to learn that there aren't many 1080p broadcasts available. Right now your main source for 1080p content is actually high definition Blu-ray discs. For more information on TV resolution see, or you can always call us at 1-800-555-9408.

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