HDTV Resolution Not as Crucial as You Think
Last week, we covered the different types of technologies used in today's high-definition televisions (HDTV). This week, we'll cover the most-talked-about specification: resolution.
Resolution deals with the sharpness of the screen. By now, you've all heard the terms 720p and 1080p. If you go into the store to purchase a new television, these resolutions will be prominently displayed. However, they might not be as important as you think.
This is especially true if you are moving into the world of HDTV for the first time. Compared with an old standard television, just about any HDTV will look spectacular, no matter what the resolution. Many experts in the field will tell you that they consider things such as contrast ratio, color saturation and color accuracy to be more important than resolution.
That said, when you choose an HDTV, the resolution will be the first thing you see when you start shopping. The resolution is the number of pixels on the screen. All other things being equal, more pixels will produce a better, sharper image.
A 720p television has 1,280 horizontal pixels and 720 vertical pixels. A 1080p television has the same number of horizontal pixels (1,280) but has 1,080 vertical pixels, essentially giving you more detail in the picture.
The "p" stands for progressive scanning, which is superior to another technique called interlaced scanning. That is represented by an "i." You don't have to worry about the 'i" or the "p" because most televisions sold in the United States today use progressive scanning.
The 1080p is the best resolution available today, and you will pay a premium to get it. Having a 1080p television, however, is only good if you have 1080p content to show. Unfortunately, no over-the-air television broadcasts in the United States are currently transmitted in 1080p.
Although television stations and cable and satellite providers have the ability to transmit in that resolution, few are willing to take that step because 1080p transmissions take up a lot of bandwidth. At this time, only a few satellite providers utilize the 1080p format, and these are strictly limited to their pay-per-view movies.
So most people will find that the only way to enjoy the full details of a 1080p television is to purchase a Blu-ray player. Blu-ray disks are formatted in the full 1080p resolution and will show off the full potential of a 1080p television.
Whether you purchase a 720p or 1080p television, standard-definition content won't necessarily look any better. But, depending on the television, the signal may be upconverted to make it look better. In some geographic areas, you can get high-definition signals over the air. You can also get high-definition stations through cable and satellite providers.
If you don't want to purchase a Blu-ray player, you can still use your old DVD player and your old movies will look better than ever. Standard DVDs, which are 480p in resolution, will be upconverted by a HDTV and will look noticeably better on a HDTV, whether it is 720p or 1080p.
One other thing needs to be taken into consideration when talking about resolutions. To see the extra detail that a 1080p television provides, the screen size must be quite large. That is why HDTVs are generally quite a bit larger than the old standard definition televisions. Also, you need to sit close enough to the television for your eyes to actually be able to see the extra details.
This is where it gets a little confusing. Basically, unless you have a very short distance between you and the television, you will need a larger screen with 1080p than with 720p. That's one reason why most televisions in smaller screen sizes will be 720p rather than 1080p. Even with 1080p Blu-ray disks, the 1080p quality only begins to become noticeably better as the screen size increases.
You can see from these details that while 1080p is the premium resolution, 720p televisions are a lower-cost option and may be perfectly fine, depending on your needs.
Besides the options such as plasma, LCD, LED, 720p and 1080p, there are plenty of other specifications that you can look at when purchasing an HDTV. Higher-end televisions will also have things such as better contrast ratios, extra HDMI ports for attaching additional equipment and Internet connectivity. Higher-end LCD and LED televisions will also have higher refresh rates and better backlighting.
If you want the best hardware, look at the 3-D televisions. You may not want 3-D in a television. If you are like me, you may not even like it, but 3-D televisions have higher hardware requirements and will, in effect, be the best televisions, even without the 3-D.
Not everyone will want or need the best or costliest HDTV. Fortunately, there are sizes and models available to suit the needs of almost everyone.
Contact Sandy Berger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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