What Is Video Resolution?

Last Update Date : Mar 22. 2018

Video Resolution

For video equipment and broadcasts, resolution is defined by the number of horizontal lines displayed to make up each frame of a video image. The more lines of resolution used to draw each frame of video, the more detailed and sharp the picture will be.


Standard TV resolution (also called SD or Standard Definition) uses 480 horizontal lines to make up each frame of video. HDTV (High Definition TV) uses either 720 lines or 1080 lines to make each video frame. The latest TV resolution is 4K often called UHD. This is resolution is 3840 x 2160 and allows TVs to be made larger and with more detail.


No matter the resolution of the incoming signal your TV will scale the image to fit the screen. Because of this scaling if you are receiving a SD image and it is being up-scaled to fit an HD screen the image may look grainy or distorted (see example below).

Examples of Up-scaling Resolutions

A 480i incoming signal on a Standard Definition TV set


A 480i incoming signal on a High Definition TV set (Image switches between a 4:3, 16:9 (stretched), and Zoomed setting)


Interlaced and Progressive Signals

The displayed lines can also be either interlaced or non-interlaced. When TVs display video, they display a new video frame at a rate that is faster than your eye can see (from 24 to 60 frames per second, depending on the TV and broadcast). Interlacing refers to whether each of those frames contains all of the lines of video for each frame or every other line. Interlaced signals take every other line from 2 frames of video (each lasting 1/60th of a second), and combine them into one frame lasting 1/30th of a second. In this way, interlacing tricks your eye into thinking it is seeing twice the resolution that is actually being displayed.

4 5

Interlaced Frame 1

Interlaced Frame 2



Completed interlaced frame

In non-interlaced video, (referred to as progressive scan video), video frames are displayed every 1/60th of a second containing all of the lines of video information for each frame. The specifications for video resolutions are usually stated by giving the number of horizontal lines, followed by either the letter i, for interlaced video, or p for progressive scan video. Most standard TV broadcasts are 480i (480 lines of interlaced video resolution).

Some DVDs and non-HDTV digital TV broadcasts use 480p. The ATSC specification for HDTV broadcasts and equipment requires either 1080i or 720p. While there is some debate as to whether it is better to have more lines that are interlaced (1080i), or fewer lines that are progressively scanned (720p), it is generally accepted that 1080i is the higher quality video format.

In 2005, HDTV was taken to a new level of picture clarity with the introduction of the 1080p resolution format. The format offers the line count of the1080i interlaced format with the full frame processing of the 720p progressive format. Equally important, the 1080p format has a 1920 horizontal pixel count, as opposed to the more common 720p horizontal pixel count of 1280 and more than twice the number of total pixels.

The 1080p format is available on many current Samsung Series. For more information about these TVs, click here.

In 2013 Samsung introduced their first 4K resolution TV. This has brought HDTV's to an even higher level of clarity. Currently there is no programing available in 4K resolutions however you can get 4K content from various sources:

• 8.3 MP (Mega Pixel) and higher cameras can take 4K resolution pictures that can be displayed on the TV.

• YouTube has 4K resolution videos available on their website that can be downloaded and played back on the TV.

• Games such as Dirt 3 and battlefield 3 support 4K output but will require a computer that is capable of outputting 4K resolution

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