Buying a new TV is always exciting. However, it can also be confusing.
It isn’t every day that you buy a new TV. For most people, TVs are a long-term purchase that lasts them a few good years. However, many people are overwhelmed by the sheer options that are available in the markets today.
Different brands, different sizes, and different resolutions.
You may already have an idea of the brand and size you need but choosing a resolution can be tricky. Due to this reason, we will discuss TV resolutions in this blog post and help you understand what exactly it is and why it matters.
Understanding TV Resolutions
To understand TV resolutions, you must first understand pixels and pixel density.
What are Pixels?
Pixels are what make up a display. They are essentially the building blocks of any screen. A single pixel is a tiny dot that emits light, and when you put enough pixels together, you can build a display. If you look closer at the screen you are reading this on, you may be able to notice the tiny pixels in your display.
A standard modern TV display is made of hundreds of thousands of these pixels. These pixels are directly linked with the TV’s resolution. The more pixels a display has, the higher the resolution and sharpness (detail) in its image.
However, the image quality also depends on pixel density.
What Is Pixel Density (PPI)?
Pixel density is measured in pixel per inch or PPI. The higher the PPI, the more pixels there are in every square inch of a display. Hence, you can find a 32-inch TV and 40-inch TV of the same resolution and specifications but with different image quality.
The difference is that the smaller TV will display more detailed and sharper images; this is because it is packing more pixels in every inch of the screen than its bigger counterpart. The resolution is the same, but the PPI (pixel density) is higher on the smaller TV.
Now that we have discussed pixels, let’s look at the various TV resolutions available in today’s markets.
720p is the lowest resolution that can be categorised as HD or high definition. In technical terms, it has a resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels; this means that it has 1,280 columns and 720 rows of pixels, giving you a total of 921,600 pixels in the entire display.
When we talk about TV resolutions, the advertised number refers to the rows of pixels, which is “720p” in this case. The “p” stands for progressive scan in which all pixels appear at once; this is in contrast to interlaced, in which the image is created through two sets of 540 lines. Interlaced TVs in 1080i used to be considered a great image quality, but it has been replaced by 1080p.
720p resolution is a decent resolution, but it is nowhere near the recommended viewing resolution for modern displays; this is because most modern online and television content has at least a 1080p resolution.
1080p resolution is commonly known as FHD or “Full HD”, which is the industry standard. Most online, television, and movie content is produced typically in at least 1080p resolution. A TV with 1080p resolution has 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, giving you a total of 2,073,600 pixels in the display.
You may have noticed that this is more than twice as much as a 720p display; this does not necessarily mean that the image is twice as sharp because the sharpness may change depending on PPI, which depends on the size of the display.
What it does mean is that any 1080p TV, whether 32-inch or 42-inch, will have 2.07 million pixels. So, if you compare a 32-inch 720p TV with a 32-inch 1080p TV, the PPI is more than doubled on the latter, which means you will get double the sharpness from the 1080p TV.
1080p TVs are easy to recommend because they fulfil the industry standard, and you will have no trouble consuming content unless you opt for a large TV. At around 50-inches, you lose a lot of PPI or sharpness due to the larger display size.
4K resolution, commonly known as UHD or “Ultra HD”, is a big step up. It has 3,840 x 2,160 pixels display resolution, which is why it is sometimes referred to as 2160p resolution. It offers an astounding 8,294,400 pixels, four times as much as 1080p and nine times as much as 720p, which is why it is a big step up.
The display sharpness is exceptionally high at this resolution, and you will see a very noticeable difference between a 4K display and a 1080p display.
The pixel density is very high at this resolution, even on large-sized displays. Hence, almost all 50-inch or larger TVs have 4K displays. 4K (UHD) resolution is hands down the best TV resolution you can get for yourself today.
You may be wondering why we did not mention 8K. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, you most likely understand TV resolutions by now, and explaining 8K would just be redundant. The other reason is that 8K is currently where 4K was 5 years ago – on the fringes of the TV industry.
Don’t get us wrong — 8K is an exceptionally incredible TV resolution, and you will be left stunned when you see it. The problem is that there is not enough 8K content to consume. The industry standard is currently capped at 4K, which means 8K is just overkill.
You can certainly buy an 8K TV for bragging rights, very specific content, and future-proofing. However, by the time it becomes industry standard in 3 years, prices will get lower, there will be more options in the market, and you will be stuck with an older model that cost you a small fortune.
The range of TVs in the market can be confusing at times, but now that you have a better understanding of TV resolutions, you can enjoy the buying experience and make an informed decision.