Resolution comparison smallerWhen high definition televisions first hit the market, in the early 2000’s I sold them. This was before flat screens, before blu-ray, and really the only HD content that you could get was through a satellite provider. Oh how things have changed, and very rapidly. When I sold those tv’s the technology of TV hadn’t really changed since they decided to throw color into the signal. In the last 10 years a lot has changed, we’ve changed standards in what a tv looks like, they are now rectangles rather than squares. The resolution your TV displays is significantly greater than the predecessors, and we have so many more ways to receive content.

Lets look a little closer at the resolution changes made in the last decade. One thing to note is that Digital Television isn’t necessarily HD, HD has to do with resolution where as Digital has to do with the way the signal is delivered. Those old square tv were a standard resolution of 720×480 and the image was interlaced, meaning the video is broken into two fields and the delivered to your tv. When stations started moving to HD in the early 2000’s they were forced to make a decision. Would the choose a standard of 1080i or 720p, both formats had obvious advantages and disadvantages. 720p was a smaller resolution 1280×720 but was a progressive format which allowed them to draw the image on the screen all at once. Where 1080i was larger resolution 1920×1080 but it still used the older interlaced method, interlacing is more noticeable in sports and other shows with a lot of movement. The major broadcasters were split ABC and Fox chose to go with 720p where CBS and NBC chose to go with 1080i.

TV and film were very separated during this time TV had moved almost entirely to a digital form factor, while movies were still being shot on film, a format more suitable for the big screen. As new technology was developed in the recent years other formats have shaken out. Camera manufactures worked hard to be able to capture what is today’s standard of HD 1080p, while other manufactures pushed the envelope to create even more resolution. RED with the release of the RED one in 2007 was the 1st digital camera that movie makers could actually create an image of the same quality of film. The RED one shot at 4k.

There are many other options out there to shoot in 4k in this day and age, and although you probably won’t see CSI broadcast on CBS in 4k anytime in the near future, there are many places that are already distributing 4k video to your tv, places like Netflix and Youtube are already letting you watch 4k if you have a way of viewing it. Now lets be clear 4k is a film format and metaphor for broadcast it is refered to as UHD or Ultra High Definition, which as you can see isn’t quite 4,000 pixels high so it’s not truly 4k. But with nearly 50% of households having tv’s connected to the internet* in one way or another this is definitely the wave of the near future.




  • Nearly every show, produced today is shot 16×9
  • Local Broadcasters use a method called “Center Cutting” to make 16×9 video 4×3 for their “analog” signals, getting rid of about 1/3 of the total image
  • 77% of homes have HDTV sets*
  • 59% of all tvs are HDTVs*
  • 31% of adults watch video on non-TV (Computers, mobile phones, tablets) devices daily and 58% weekly – up from 18% daily and 46% weekly just 2 years ago*
  • 6k was announced by Camera manufacturer RED last year.