Home Theater & Entertainment TV & Displays 78 78 people found this article helpful What Pixels Are and What They Mean for TV Viewing The dots that make up your TV picture by Robert Silva Writer Robert Silva has written about audio, video, and home theater topics since 1998. Robert has written for Dishinfo.com, and made appearances on the YouTube series Home Theater Geeks. our editorial process Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Robert Silva Updated on December 02, 2020 2020 TV Buying Guide 2020 TV Buying Guide Introduction TV Basics What is a Smart TV? What Are Pixels? HDR Formats Explained HDTV, HDMI, DVI or HDCP Measuring a TV Screen How Room Lighting Affects TVs TV Buying Guide What Is 4K? LCD vs LED All About OLED TVs QLED vs OLED Extended Warranties What is a Roku TV? The Best TV For You Best TVs of 2020 Best 4K Ultra HD TVs Best TV Brands Best Cheap TVs Best Smart TVs Best Outdoor TVs Best Gaming TVs Best TVs Under $500 Best Online TV Retailers Best TVs by Brand Best LG TVs Best Roku TVs Best Vizio TVs Best TVs at Walmart Best Samsung TVs Best Sony TVs Best Hisense TVs Best TVs by Size Best 40-inch Smart TVs Best 42-inch TVs Best 48-inch TVs Best 60-inch TVs Best 65-Inch 4K TVs Best 75-Inch TVs Best 80-85 inch TVs Best 26-29 inch LED TVs Best 32-39 inch LED TVs Best TV Accessories Best TV Antennas Best TV Stands Best TV Wall Mounts Best Under Cabinet TVs & Mounts Best Surge Protectors Best HDMI Cables Best Blu-Ray Players Best Devices for Streaming TV Tweet Share Email When you watch your favorite program or movie on a TV or video projector, you see what appears to be a series of complete images, like a photograph or film. However, appearances are deceiving. If you get your eyes close to a TV or projection screen, you'll see it is made up of little dots that are lined up in horizontal and vertical rows across and up and down the screen surface. kisina/Getty Images What Are Pixels? The dots on a TV, video projection screen, PC monitor, laptop, or even tablet and smartphone screens, are referred to as pixels. A pixel is defined as a picture element. Each pixel contains red, green, and blue color information (referred to as subpixels). The following illustration shows a close-up of subpixels. Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain Pixels and Resolution The number of pixels that can be displayed on a screen surface determines the resolution of the displayed images. To display a specific screen resolution, a predetermined number of pixels has to run across the screen horizontally and up and down the screen vertically, arranged in rows and columns. To determine the total number of pixels covering the entire screen surface, you multiply the number of horizontal pixels in one row with the number of vertical pixels in one column. This total is referred to as pixel density. Here are some examples of pixel density for commonly displayed resolutions in today's TVs (LCD, Plasma, OLED) and video projectors (LCD, DLP): Stated Resolution Horizontal Pixel Count Vertical Pixel Count Pixel Density (Total Pixel Count Displayed) 480i/p 720 480 345,600 720p 1,280 720 921,600 768p 1,366 768 1,049,088 1080i/p 1,920 1,080 2,073,600 4K (Consumer Standard) 3,840 2,160 8,294,400 4K (Cinema Standard) 4,096 2,160 8,847,360 8K 7,680 4,320 33,177,600 Pixel Density and Screen Size In addition to pixel density (resolution), there is another factor to take into consideration: the size of the screen displaying the pixels. Regardless of screen size, the horizontal/vertical pixel count and pixel density don't change for a specific resolution. If you have a 1080p TV, there are always 1,920 pixels running across the screen horizontally, per row, and 1,080 pixels running up and down the screen vertically, per column. This results in a pixel density of about 2.1 million. A 32-inch TV that displays 1080p resolution has the same number of pixels as a 55-inch 1080p TV. The same thing applies to video projectors. A 1080p video projector will display the same number of pixels on an 80 or 200-inch screen. Pixels per Inch Even though the number of pixels stays constant for a specific pixel density across all screen sizes, what does change is the number of pixels-per-inch. As the screen size gets larger, the individually displayed pixels have to be larger, or the space between the pixels increased, in order to fill the screen with the correct number of pixels for a specific resolution. You can calculate the number of pixels per inch for specific resolution/screen size relationships. TVs vs Video Projectors With video projectors, the displayed pixels per inch for a specific projector can vary depending on the size screen used. Unlike TVs that have static screen sizes (a 50-inch TV is always a 50-inch TV), video projectors can display images in a wide variety of screen sizes, depending on the projector's lens design and the distance the projector is placed from a screen or wall. With 4K projectors, there are different methods on how images are displayed on a screen that also affects the screen size, pixel density, and pixels per inch relationship. TV and Video Projector Images – More Than Just Pixels Although pixels are the foundation of how a TV image is put together, there are other things that are required to see good quality TV or video projector images. These include brightness, contrast, color, tint, color temperature, and other settings. Just because a TV or projected image has a lot of pixels, doesn't automatically mean you'll see the best possible image. 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