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What is Resolution

Resolution

Definition of Resolution

Resolution also called display resolution, the display resolution of a digital television or display device is the number of distinct pixels in each dimension that can be displayed. It can be an ambiguous term especially as the displayed resolution is controlled by all different factors in cathode ray tube (CRT) and flat panel or projection displays using fixed picture-element (pixel) arrays.

One use of the term "display resolution" applies to fixed-pixel-array displays such as plasma display panels (PDPs), liquid crystal displays (LCDs), Digital Light Processing (DLP) projectors, or similar technologies, and is simply the physical number of columns and rows of pixels creating the display (e.g., 1920*1200). A consequence of having a fixed grid display is that, for multi-format video inputs, all displays need a "scaling engine" (a digital video processor that includes a memory array) to match the incoming picture format to the display.

Note that the use of the word resolution here is a misnomer, though common. The term "display resolution" is usually used to mean pixel dimensions, the number of pixels in each dimension (e.g., 1920*1200), which does not tell anything about the resolution of the display on which the image is actually formed: resolution properly refers to the pixel density, the number of pixels per unit distance or area, not total number of pixels. In digital measurement, the display resolution would be given in pixels per inch. In analog measurement, if the screen is 10 inches high, then the horizontal resolution is measured across a square 10 inches wide. This is typically stated as "xxx lines horizontal resolution, per picture height." Example: Analog NTSC TVs can typically display 486 lines horizontal resolution, per picture height which is equivalent to 640 total lines from left-edge to right-edge.

Current Standards of Resolution

Televisions are of the following resolutions:

*Standard-definition television (SDTV):
480i (NTSC uses an analog system of 486i split into two interlaced fields of 243 lines)
576i (PAL, 720*576 split into two interlaced fields of 288 lines)
*Enhanced-definition television (EDTV):
480p (720*480 progressive scan)
576p (720*576 progressive scan)

* High-definition television (HDTV):

720p (1280*720 progressive scan)
1080i (1920*1080 split into two interlaced fields of 540 lines)
1080p (1920*1080 progressive scan)

Computers have higher resolutions than most televisions. As of July 2002, 1024*768 eXtended Graphics Array was the most common display resolution. Many web sites and multimedia products were re-designed from the previous 800*600 format to the higher 1024*768-optimized layout.

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