What does ‘p’ mean in 1080p or 720p Videos?

In 1080p or 720p videos,  ‘p’ means Progressive Scanning.  Progressive Scanning is one of the methods used to display an image on a screen. The other one is called Interlaced Scanning. Progressive scan is a display and signal type in which the entire image is refreshed every cycle.  To understand Progressive Scanning, first, a little background knowledge is necessary.

Today’s advanced technology allows High Definition (HD) display in latest TV sets and streaming services like Netflix. The detail level of a screen is defined by High Definition.  To understand HD more clearly, a term ‘pixel‘ is used. A number of pixels are used to display an image.

A pixel is the smallest visible element on a display. To show an image, if there are more pixels in use, the image will become sharper. See the following image:

Credit: Ubergizmo

A 1080p TV uses 1080 lines or pixels (vertical) and 1920 lines or pixels (horizontal) to display an image. On the other hand, a 4K TV uses 2160 lines or pixels (vertical) and 3840 (horizontal) lines or pixels, resulting in a much sharper image. The method to draw these lines is either interlaced or progressive. Progressive scan allows drawing these lines at a time in sequential order. For example, an entire single frame image is displayed every 1/60th or 1/120th of a second (refresh rate-faster is better for image), allowing a much faster rate compared to interlaced scan.



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