A HDTV has either a standard or a wide screen, which determines how shows look on screen. The picture format for your HDTV combines two traits: Aspect ratio and screen resolution.

Aspect Ratio

Aspect ratio is the ratio of the width of your TV screen to its height. Aspect ratios differ for standard-screen and widescreen HDTVs.

A standard-screen HDTV has a 4:3 aspect ratio. The screen is 4 units wide for every 3 units tall.

3 format

A screen resolution of 480p or 480i fills the screen.

A wide-screen HDTV has a 16:9 aspect ratio. The screen is 16 units wide for every 9 units tall.

9 format

A screen resolution of 720p or higher fills the screen.

Screen Resolution and Refreshes

Screen resolution (or scan rate) indicates the amount of detail that a picture displays, and is identified by the number of display lines on the screen. For example, a resolution of 1080i indicates that the screen shows 1080 horizontal lines in an interlaced display, and 480p indicates that the screen shows 480 horizontal lines in a progressive display.

The image displayed on a TV screen is comprised of horizontal rows of pixels that glow for a fraction of a second. In order to create a complete and continuous image, these rows of pixels must be refreshed at a rate of 60 times per second.

There are two methods used for refreshing screens:

  1. Interlacing (i): Every other row of pixels is updated with each refresh, which means the screen is completely refreshed only 30 times per second. Interlacing reduces the amount of bandwidth required to refresh the image, but may produce a noticeable flicker for larger TVs.
  2. Progressive (p): Every line is updated simultaneously with each refresh, which means the complete screen is updated 60 times per second. Progressive refresh requires more bandwidth than interlacing, but produces a much smoother picture with almost no flicker.

Helpful Hints

  • 4K-enabled TVs offer the highest quality HD experience, especially on 40-inch or larger screens. However, if your TV screen is smaller than 40-inches, the visual differences between 4K, 1080p, 1080i, and 720p resolutions are minimal.
  • Since the vast majority of programming is currently produced in 720p and 1080i, if your television is enabled with 1080p or 4K technology, your TV will convert our HD signal so you can continue to enjoy Spectrum TV.

Picture Effects

  1. Center Cut: The entire screen in filled, but some of the content is cut off on the left and right edges.
Screen with cat - fullscreen
  1. Letterbox: Black bars are added to the top and bottom of the screen to create a rectangular image. All of the content can be seen, but the screen is not filled.
    Wide screen view of cat on screen
  2. Postage Stamp: Black bars are added on all four sides of the screen, creating a smaller picture.
Cat on screen with wider black bars

Learn more about your HDTV.

Components/YPbPr

YPbPr is the component video format in which the luminance (Y) is represented separately from the color components (Pb and Pr). The majority of HDTV's today support this format. The Y output on HDTV's and HDTV receivers is provided as a Green jack, the Pb is provided as a Blue jack and the Pr is provided as a Red jack.

Note: The colors themselves are not to be confused with an RGB output.