The resolution of a television is the number of pixels in each dimension that the TV can display natively.
The higher the resolution, the more details the picture has. The resolution is not the only factor in picture quality, but it is the easiest one to understand and notice.
You can watch media that is not in the TV's native resolution. However, watching content in a lower resolution than the TV will not increase the quality. Inversely, you will lose detail if you watch 1080p content on a 720p TV. Learn more about upscaling.
Width in pixels
Height in pixels
|1280||720||HD channels (some are 1080i)|
Which resolution should I get?
(learn more about this here)
A higher resolution might not be worth it for you. The resolution that you need depends on three factors: the size of your television, how close you sit to it, and what kind of footage you are watching (discussed in the next section).
The human eye of a person with 20/20 vision (6/6 in Europe) can only distinguish detail 1/60 of a degree apart (Wikipedia source). This means that at a certain distance, for a specific size, you will not be able to see the full resolution of a television. The chart plots that distance for different television sizes at the four main resolutions (480p, 720p, 1080p and Ultra HD).
Using this data, if you are siting eight feet away from your television, you will not see a difference between 720p and 1080p for a television under 40" in size. Similarly, the new Ultra HD resolution is only worth it if you have a television bigger than 60" and are sitting relatively close to it (more info on UHD vs 1080p).
What content is available in which resolution?
|HD channel||720p or 1080i|
|Netflix||Up to 4k|
Though screen resolution has improved dramatically in the past several years, the quality of available content hasn't managed to keep pace. The content is now the bottleneck. Blu-ray is still the best physical media. HD channels are falling behind as they are either only 720p or 1080i.
More content is being made available in 4k, though the selection is still nowhere near what you see with 1080p. We have compiled a list of some of the more common source of 4k UHD content, which you can find here.
What is the most common native resolution for a television?
720p TVs are rare now. Some 32" and 43" plasma TVs are 720p. With LED TVs, it's rare for even 32" TVs to be 720p nowadays. Most 720p TVs are in the sub-32" sizes.
1080p TVs are the most common. If you buy a TV today, this will most likely be the resolution.
4k TVs have increased their market share in 2014. Every brand has a few of them now, but the prices are still above mainstream level. We list our favourite 4k TVs here.
The resolution is an important factor in the picture quality of a TV, but the resolution you experience while watching is also dependent on the size of your TV and your viewing distance. As the effective resolution will be the minimum between the resolution of the media and your TV, you need high quality media to fully appreciate whatever you're looking at.
Questions & Answers
Upgrading to a 4k TV wouldn't help unless your problem was that your current TV couldn't display all the detail that is in the photos. If the images don't look good, the more likely issue is that the quality of the images themselves is poor, or that your TV's picture isn't great.
Try to find good picture settings for your TV, and use those when looking at your photos. You should also make sure your camera settings are correct and that your shots are well-lit, in focus, etc.
Here is my question: Is there a way to rate a TV set's upscaling ability? Does this factor in to any tests currently? I've noticed that Samsung does great with upscaling lower resolution content, but some Vizio TVs are rated higher, despite being without the ability to upscale efficiently. I am not a gamer, and normal cable is about 80 percent of what I watch, with 20 percent being streamed movies.
By comparing the results we've seen from all the TVs, Samsung, Sony, and LG TVs are all mostly good at upscaling, while Vizio and Sharp aren't as good. If you want to watch low-resolution media and your TV will be doing the upscaling (some cable boxes can also upscale), get one of the first three.
LED TVs in general don't look quite as good for motion as plasma sets do. If you want something that looks a bit better, an OLED TV would be the answer. If that's not an option you want to explore, then you'll need to try to adjust to the look of LED - and it doesn't get much better than the JS9500.
This happens with component DVD signals (upscaled only to 720p size), and with *some* over-the-air 720p stations (appear at 720p size), but not others which correctly upscale to 1080p size.
I haven't tested with cable boxes but suspect similar problems. All 4:3 sources (even component DVD) upscale properly to fill the screen top-to-bottom. A related issue is the "Movies!" over-the-air network which transmits 4:3 Anamorphic and is not being automatically stretched to 16:9 by the TV (have to dig for settings). Have you ever heard of this happening with any other TV? I call it a defectively designed product not doing its basic functionally -- evil/clueless Sceptre tech support calls it "complying with all industry standards".
If you want a solution, the easiest fix (if possible) would be to use an upscaling DVD player, which would send an upscaled, screen-fitting 1080p signal to the TV. For a cable box, choosing an option to send a 1080i signal would probably achieve the same result.
Before asking a question, make sure you use the search function of our website. The majority of the answers are already here.