Monday, October 11, 2010

TV tech terminology

I've always wondered why the TV industry insists on confusing us with their bafflegabby (!) terminology. Take, for example, the popular "1080p" resolution. This is typically described as a mode characterized by "1080 lines of vertical resolution." (Emphasis mine.) Now, I dunno about you, but this leads me to think that each line is 1080 pixels high - iow, from top to bottom. That's what "vertical" means, n'est-ce pas? Nope, 1080p is the number of horizontal lines, stacked on top of each other. (The width of each line is 1920 pixels.) And, yes, I know it means that each line is, in fact, 1080 pixels high - but it still confuses the crap outta me!

In checking this out, I came across a rather illuminating, easy-to-understand depiction of all the different video resolutions out there. It's interesting to see how far we've come from the early days, and where we may be headed. I say that with reservations, because I think we've pretty much hit the point of diminishing returns. After all, why pump all those extra pixels down the line, eating up precious bandwidth, when the human eye really cannot discern much more than the current standard? Here's the pic in question; you can find a larger, easier-to-see version here. (Realize that HD 1080 is 3,801,600 pixels 30 times a second, while the highest resolution, QSXGA would be 5,242,880 pixels, 1.38x more!)

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