The 1080 difference – the number that really counts in high definition TV

Having the right number of dots on your HDTV’s screen can make all the difference!

The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games will be presented in what is referred to as ‘1080-line high definition video’ throughout most of Australia. But 1080-line high definition can mean different things, and there are plenty of myths about what TV you need in order to enjoy it. You deserve some reliable information about all this, and that’s what we are here to offer.

So what is ‘1080’? It is the number of horizontal lines that your high definition television picture is made from. But we rarely talk about ‘lines’ any more. For most of the history of television we have been using analog systems. With analog TV the picture was broadcast, and then displayed on your TV, as a series of lines. With digital TV (and DVD and Blu-ray), it is broadcast and displayed more as a sequence of digital photographs.

Broadcasting in 1080 - why it is best

If you load a digital photo onto your computer and zoom in closely, you will see that it is made up of a grid of dots. Indeed, you could define the detail of the image simply by counting up the number of dots in each direction, vertically and horizontally. If some detail in the picture is smaller than the size of a dot, then you will never know what shape it is.

That count – horizontally and vertically – is the picture resolution.