What is the best resolution for a projector?


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Looking back to the early days of technology people didn’t pay much attention to screen or display resolution.

Windows introduced a few preset resolutions and if you wanted higher resolution you had to install drivers for your video card on your computer.

As time went on the choices grew more rapidly from better video cards to better monitors. Today, we have endless options when it comes to displays, quality, and supported resolutions.

In this article, we will enlighten you on resolutions and why you should consider different options as each has its benefits and weaknesses.

Key things to note when dealing with resolutions

a projector with high resolution

When you first encounter different resolutions, it can be tricky on what to look out for and what is essential.

Some resolutions are ideally made for work purposes and some are designed to give you the best movie experience possible.

Moreover, these are some key things to consider when looking at resolutions.

What does the P’s and I’s mean in screen resolution terms

Usually, you will find that screen resolutions are described as 720p, 1080i, or 1080p but what does the ‘i’ and ‘p’ actually mean?

In short, these letters tell you how the picture is ‘painted’ on the device/screen. The ‘I’ stand for interlaced and the ‘p’ stands for progressive.

Interlaced scans or the I’s

These were first used in the early days and were primarily a holdover from TV and early CRT monitors.

You will find that TV screens have lines of pixels arranged horizontally across it.

With an interlaced display, you will find that all the odd lines are painted first and then all the even lines after that.

Now because the screen is painted in alternate lines, you will find flickering as the end result. You could easily see those lines if you venture close enough.

However, by today’s standards, the pixels on the screen make it almost impossible to see with naked eyes.

Progressive scans or the P’s

The progressive scans were introduced because the new digital displays are so much faster than their predecessors were.

In a progressive scan, the lines are painted in a sequence.

Here is a picture to better illustrate their differences:

progressive vs interlaced

What is the aspect ratio and how does it affect resolution?

The name aspect ratio was initially used in motion picture circles to relay how wide the picture was in correlation to its height.

You will find that movies were usually shot at a 4:3 aspect ratio, and later TV’s and early monitors adopted this aspect ratio.

This all soon changed with technology advancements paving way for the widescreen. Therefore, movies had to be adjusted and cropped just to fit on the screens. 

Nowadays, wide screens are the norm and have become synonymous with 720p and 1080p resolution displays. Most people prefer the crystal clear picture that these displays deliver. 

What do the resolution numbers mean?

The resolution numbers of projector

The numbers also play a vital role when looking at resolutions.

There was a shorthand developed to make it easier for people to explain their display resolutions.

The popular resolution numbers you see are 720p, 1080p, 1140p and 4K. 

These refer to the number of horizontal lines on a display. 

  • 720p = 1280 x 720 – is known as a “HD Ready” resolution
  • 1080p = 1920 x 1080 – is known as a FHD or “Full HD” resolution
  • 1440p = 2560 x 1440 – is known as QHD or Quad HD resolution. You will find it typically in gaming monitors and smartphones. 
  • 4K or 2160p = 3840 x 2160 – is known as 4K, UHD or Ultra HD resolution. It is a big display resolution, and found on the latest TVs or monitors. 2160p is called 4K because the width is close to 4000 pixels.
  • 8K or 4320p = 7680 x 4320 – is known as 8K and it offers 16 times more pixels than the regular 1080p FHD or “Full HD” resolution.

To conclude, what is the best resolution for a projector?

Well, this will depend solely on what you need it for and how much you are willing to pay.

Higher resolution means higher picture quality, but if you are going to use it at work for slideshows or document viewing than a 1280 x 720 resolution will be ideal for you.

However, if you intend to use it to stream high resolution movies, then an FHD or 4K resolution may be better. It will enhance the picture quality and improve your viewing experience more than a standard resolution would do. 

Moreover, it is worth mentioning that 8K projectors are available. These projectors are costly, and there is less content available compared to the 4K and UHD resolutions.

Resolution Comparison Tables

Below are tables that show different types of resolutions and the amount of pixels that can be found horizontally and vertically and the total amount of pixels for each resolution.

Video Resolution (4:3 aspect ratio)

ResolutionSVGAXGASXGA +UXGA
Pixels horizontal800102414001600
Pixels vertically60076810501200
Total pixels480,000786,0001,470,0001,920,000

Widescreen resolution (16:10 aspect ratio)

ResolutionWXGAWXGA+WUXGA
Pixels horizontal1280144O1920
Pixels vertically8009001200
Total pixels1,024,0001,296,0002,304,000

Widescreen resolution (16:9 aspect ratio)

Resolution720p1080p4K Ultra HD
Pixels horizontal128019203840
Pixels vertically72010802160
Total pixels921,6002,073,6008,294,400

Widescreen resolution (17:9 aspect ratio)

ResolutionNative 4K
Pixels horizontal4096
Pixels vertically2160
Total pixels8,847,360

It is worth noting that every projector has a native (maximum) resolution. Furthermore, this is the result of the maximum number of pixels it can project.

For example, an XGA projector can only display 786,000 pixels at a time. Now when looking at the UXGA resolution you will find it can display 1,920,000 pixels and a Native 4K resolution will increase to a whopping 8,847,360 pixels.

The more total pixels the better detail you can expect from your projector.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Is 1280×800 resolution good for a projector?

As a rule of thumb, the more pixels, the better the picture quality will be.

This resolution is excellent if you want to do some widescreen viewing. But it won’t have that crystal-clear picture that a 4K or UHD resolution will provide.

What makes this resolution good is that the projector is reasonably priced and has a common resolution for smartphones and computers.

2. Is 1080p suitable for a projector?

The 1080p resolution is one of the highest pixels on the market, and you will be assured of a great looking image and video quality.

They are on the pricier side compared to lesser resolutions out there. However, it is worth the price looking at the quality and projector’s ability to connect several devices.

3. Which is better, WXGA or Full HD?

A WXGA will be better if you want to do some widescreen viewing. It will be able to display 11% more information than a Full HD projector. WXGA is also a common resolution for notebook computers and smartphones.

Conclusion

Each resolution will offer you different advantages and disadvantages. We have tried to make it as easy as possible to distinguish between the resolutions and what they can offer you. If you are looking for better image quality, an FHD or 4K may suit your needs.

There are, however, 8K resolutions available, and as time passes by, they will be more accessible to the general public. This can be pricey for some, but remember a 720p resolution display is good already.

Whichever choice you make, this article has shown you what direction to go.

Projectors are growing in popularity and it is becoming more affordable to the mainstream public. With that being said, now is the best time to invest in a high-resolution projector. All that’s left for you to do is pick the one that best serves your needs and enjoy some vivid picture clarity.


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