Are All LCD TVs Also HDTVs?

Not all LCD TVs in use are necessarily HDTVs

Hisense 7B Series 4K Ultra HD LED/LCD TV

Hisense America

When it comes to LCD TVs (LED TVs are LCD TVs!), many consumers automatically think that LCD equals HDTV. However, it must be noted that the term "LCD" does not have anything to do with resolution, but the technology used to create the image that is seen on an LCD TV screen.

LCD TV panels can be made to display specific resolutions, which is stated in Pixels. It is also important to point out that the size of the LCD TV screen does not automatically mean it is an HDTV either.

TVs with different screen sizes with the same stated resolution (ie: 1080p TVs with either a 40-inch or 65-inch screen size) have the same number pixels. What changes is the size of the pixels and pixels per inch

The following is an explanation of how the interaction of LCD TV technology and display resolution intersect.

SDTV and EDTV

Although LCD TVs available currently are indeed HDTVs, if you own one that was manufactured in the mid-to-early 2000s or before, that you purchased at that time or purchased more recently used via an auction site or garage sale, it may actually be an SDTV (Standard Definition TV) or EDTV (Extended Definition TV) and not an HDTV.

  • SDTVs: These sets have a display resolution of 740x480 (480p). The "p" stands for progressive scan, which is the way LCD TVs displays pixels and images on a screen.
  • EDTVs: These sets typically have a native pixel resolution of 852x480. 852x480 represents 852 pixels across (left to right) and 480 pixels down (top to bottom) on the screen surface. The 480 pixels down also represent the number of rows or lines from the top to the bottom of the screen. This is higher than standard definition, but it does not meet the requirements of HDTV resolution.

The images on SDTVs and EDTVs can still look good, especially for DVDs and standard digital cable, but they are not HDTVs. For example, DVD is a Standard Definition format that supports 480i/p resolution (740x480 pixels). This means that when displayed on an SDTV or EDTV, it will look better than VHS, which is a much lower resolution source.

LCD and HDTV

In order for any TV (that also means LCD TVs) to be classified as an HDTV, it must be able to display a vertical resolution of at least 720 lines (or pixel rows). Screen display resolutions that fit this requirement (in pixels) are 1024x768, 1280x720 , and 1366x768.

Since LCD TV panels contain a finite number of pixels (aka fixed-pixel display), input signals that have higher resolutions must be scaled to fit the pixel field count of the particular LCD display.

For example, a typical HDTV input format of 1080i or 1080p needs a native display of 1920x1080 pixels for a one-to-one point display of the HDTV image. Also, since, as mentioned previously, LCD TVs only display progressively scanned images (each line or row is sequential), 1080i source signals are always either deinterlaced to 1080p or scaled down to 768p (1366x768 pixels), 720p, or 480p depending on the native pixel resolution of the specific LCD television.

This means that there is no such thing as a 1080i LCD TV. LCD TVs can only display video in a progressive scan format, so if your LCD TV is branded as a 1080i TV, or accepts a 1080i input resolution signal, it has to deinterlace (convert an incoming 1080i interlaced image composed of alternate lines or pixel rows into sequential lines or pixel rows) and rescale that signal to either:

  • 720p/768p on TVs with a 1366x768 or 1280x720 native pixel resolution
  • 1080p on LCD TVs with a 1920x1080 native pixel resolution.

If your LCD television only has a pixel resolution of 852x480 or 1024x768, an original HDTV signal must be scaled down to fit the 852x480 or 1024x768 pixel count on the LCD screen surface. 

Ultra HD TV and Beyond

With advancements in display manufacturing technology, there are an increasing number of LCD TVs that provide a 4K (3840x2160 pixels) display resolution (referred to as Ultra HD).

Also, TVs that can support 8K resolution (7680 x 4320 pixels) are also available for consumers. For now, these are reserved for some TVs with screen sizes 65-inches and up. However, 8K resolution TVs will filter down to smaller screen sizes, just as 4K UHD TVs have. 

The Bottom Line

When shopping for an LCD TV (or any TV), you can be assured that the vast majority meet at least the minimum requirements to be classified as an HDTV.

TVs with screen sizes 32-inches or less may have either 720p or 1080p native resolutions, while TVs 39-inches and larger may feature either 1080p (HDTV) or Ultra HD (4K) native display resolutions.

There may be some TVs 24 inches and smaller that have a 1024x768 display resolution, but that is definitely rare these days.

Just keep in mind that there are still some older LCD TVs in use that may be SDTVs or EDTVs. If you are not sure what yours is, take note of the package labeling, consult your user manual, or contact tech support for your brand/model if that is possible.

TV Resolution Reference Chart
Marketing Label Horizontal Pixels Vertical Pixels Total Screen Pixels
SD (SD TV) 740 480  355,200
ED (ED TV) 852 480 408,960
EDTV/HDTV 1024 768 786,432
HD (720p) 1280 720 921,600
HD (720p/768p) 1366 768 1,049,088
HD (1080i)/FHD (1080p) 1920 1080 2,073,600
4K/UHD/Ultra HD 3840 2160 8,294,000
8K 7680 4320 33,177,600