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What is 1440p?

By Brendan McGuigan
Updated May 16, 2024
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1440p is a newer resolution of high-definition television and movies, referring to the resolution of the picture itself. The number 1440 refers to the vertical resolution of the picture, indicating 1440 pixels in the vertical axis. This is understood to be combined with the standard 16:9 aspect ratio of high-definition television, indicating a horizontal resolution of 2560. This yields an overall pixel count of 3,686,400 pixels for a television in 1440p resolution, substantially higher than the 2,073,600 pixels found on a 1080p television.

High-definition television dates back to the 1930s, although the televisions considered to be high-definition then would be considered rather low-definition today. It wasn’t until the 1960s, when the Japanese first began experimenting with truly high-definition color televisions, that high-definition TV became a real possibility. In the 1980s, the technology from these Japanese televisions began to make its way to the United States, where they immediately took everyone by storm. In fact, Ronald Reagan, on seeing a high-definition television for the first time, said it should be a national priority to get high-definition in every home. The FCC, however, saw the extremely high bandwidth requirements of high-definition television as rendering the technology infeasible, and so refused to approve it.

Once digital technologies made their way fully into television, however, this bandwidth problem vanished. Digital compression techniques allowed for extremely high-resolution images to be compressed down to a fraction of their size and transmitted using relatively little bandwidth. Standards began to be formed, with one area of early debate the ultimate aspect ratio of this new high-definition television. A number of ideas were put forth, and ultimately 16:9 was decided upon as a reasonable compromise between the 5:3 ratio found on the earlier Japanese high-definition televisions and many others, and the stranger ratio used in most movie cinemas. The original spec laying out high-definition television included the 1080i and 1080p resolutions, but did not have the 1440p resolution, or the lower-resolution of 720p, which it was decided was not truly high-definition.

It was the 720p resolution, however, which would make the first real inroads into high-definition broadcast on network television. A number of networks, including ABC, ESPN, and Fox, use 720p as their resolution of choice. The other majorly used resolution, 1080i, has a higher pixel resolution, but because the picture is interlaced to save bandwidth, may appear a bit jumpy. These networks have chosen 720p because it is a preferable format for things that require fast scanning, such as sports, while channels such as NBC and HBO have chosen 1080i for its image quality.

1440p, although not widely adopted, is the likely eventually successor to 720p. It is in many ways the same format, but with a much higher pixel count. The resolution axes are exactly doubled, which creates a quadruple increase in overall pixels: 3,686,400 for the 1440p as opposed to 921,600 for the 720p. This creates a much crisper, much cleaner image, and width compression technologies improving, and bandwidth capabilities growing quickly, the added bandwidth cost is becoming less and less of a concern.

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Discussion Comments
By anon336258 — On May 27, 2013

So the consumer products we have now are 30-40 years behind for what they have in stores, now.

By anon334096 — On May 09, 2013

Since the human eye has a "resolution" bigger than 200MP, we can still improve image quality a lot. The problem will be how to transmit the signal, since we are limited by connection speed.

By anon310843 — On Dec 27, 2012

Some of you posters have to go back and re-read the article. They said that most stations use 720p, and that 1440p is four times as sharp an image. So there will be a drastic difference from what you're used to. Most programs aren't broadcast in 1080p even on HD channels. 720 is still considered HD (there's just multiple grades).

As for the people saying that 1080 has to stop looking like garbage first, you;re also wrong. Again, read the article. The 1440p bypasses the ratio and bandwidth problems. It truly will be better. I can't wait for it!

By anon305952 — On Nov 28, 2012

As of now, 11-28-2012, you can barely even find a TV online with this. Pretty interesting though.

By anon301419 — On Nov 04, 2012

@anon216693: The limitation of the human eye begins when you can no longer put your face against the screen and count or see individual pixels. You can do this on a 1080 and a 1440. However the stepping stones we're taking now will never be as drastic because we've already passed the widely distinguishable differences, and we're down to fine tuning.

By anon216693 — On Sep 22, 2011

What are the physical limitations of the human eye? Can we really see the 1440 difference?

By anon154408 — On Feb 20, 2011

first we need to get content providers to broadcast 1080i properly without super compression making the picture look like garbage. Then we can worry about 1440p.

By moonTiger — On Jan 25, 2011

I agree that 1080p was a huge upgrade from the standard definition TV. 1440p may not be as big of an upgrade as 1080p was from standard definition, but I still think it will be interesting to see how much clearer the picture will be on a 1440p television.

By entrepreneur — On Jan 07, 2011

I was blown away when i first saw 1080p, and to consider that 1440p TVs are right around the corner is really amazing. I doubt the difference between 1080p and 1440p TV is as drastic as the upgrade from standard definition (SD) TVs was.

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