HD1080i De-mystify HDTV 1080i ::: know why before you buy

Saturday, December 30, 2006

1080i on 1366x768 resolution problems

The title of this Post is, in fact, a very common search term that this site gets way too many hits from. That is a clue...

1920x1080 image with other resolutions shown inside, Pixel for Pixel

click for full 1920 x 1080 image

Your New Years Resolution should be 1080..
but if not... then read on. .1366 x 768 is not a broadcast standard in any way shape or form. It is a flatpanel plasma and LCD resolution offered for 16:9 displays Note ... this image above is not intended to show that 1366x768 cuts off a broadcast image, It is just to represent the pixel area differences of various resolutions. 1080i content is scaled down from 1920 wide to 1366 wide by the display. Read on.. Scaling matters.

1366 x 768 Native Resolution in fixed pixel flat panel displays:

There are 2 resolutions for HD broadcasts
1) 720p = resolution of 1280 x720 pixels ~ 1 megapixel
2) 1080i -= resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels ~ 2 megapixels

There is no 3rd resolution of 1366 x 768 in any HD source.
It is all about firmware scaling engine ( video processing chips ) in the display.

If you own a 1366 x 768 display then your image has been mashed about and re-scaled to fit your screen. Period. Meaning: you will not ever get a pixel for pixel rendering of anything coming into your display, so all this talk of "pristine 720p" from my 720p plasma display is bunk usually unless your display has an exact 1280 mode. Its no longer the video frame that the producer saw. Instead you actually are seeing an upscaled version created by the pixel scaler firmware with quality that the display manufacturer wanted to put into the HDTV.
Just because it is scaled does not mean it is not great imaging, some displays do a fantastic job of resizing and de-interlacing. Some 1366 displays do such a fuzzy job of scaling that the image seems about the same as regular TV, just bigger and wider, not Higher in Definition.

WHY does 1366 x 768 exist?
This has to do with a 1 megapixel processing boundary of easily available chipsets for VRAM ( video memory ) and video processing display drivers. Its a standard memory size of importance to chip makers. Makes for cost productive configurations where the Input / Output systems are built off of already available OEM devices, so basically the Manufacturer is more in the business of flatpanel Glass making and bezel/speaker situations on a large display. The functional basic math:

1 megapixel
1024 x 1024 = 1048576 pixels
1366 x 768 = 1049088 pixels 16 by 9 image
720p = 1280 x 720 = 921600 pixels. 16 by 9 HD standard .
720p is just under 1 megapixel of data per screen.

If they really wanted to make a 720p specific display, it would be 1280 x 720 pixels, but they decided to get every last bit they could into the viewable pixel space and that is what makes for 16 by 9 numbers to become 1366 across and 768 vertically. In fact 768 is a common vertical resolution memory boundary. Why get more pixels up into the glass and use 1366 x 768? ... because more pixels is better image resolution.

A 1366 x 768 image is ALWAYS SCALED
To Get HD from this means your image is at the mercy of scaling that makes 720 or 1080 source practically irrelevent to you, since whatever you see is processed and spit out by something you have almost no control over after your purchase. I trust Sony and Westinghouse digital, LG on some units. You must see it in the store in my opinion. Asking about scaler technology from most sales people will get you nowhere.

1366x768 is where the industry has not properly explained itself.
Why? I dont know , because i think they should, especially when the news is good, some displays have scalers that are superb and they should be claiming credit for that, since a huge amount of processing has to happen to make 720 into 768 or 1080 down to 768. In a Good display with a great processing chipset, the 1080 incoming resoultion is 2 times what the display can show, and since it has twice the information it needs, the 1366 display can really do a great job.

Ignoring this basic fact that people recognize the 1366 is not 1080 or 720, leaving out info about about scaler processing, is flawed reasoning at a fundamental level, and the google search hits i get about that are ample proof. People are smarter than that, and that intellect should be respected.

People DO want to know whats up with that. I think you need to see this nearly hidden piece : http://www.lge.com/products/tv/XDEngine/index.htm (flash) is not technical, but shows how LG handles the mutlitude of problems caused by resolution scaling and color. This is all done in chipsets that are in the display. By the way, LG does a great job and you will be happy to own a 1366x768 if the price-point is right for you.

1366 native resolution has caused some problems for the HD world.

why? Because many people looking at what they are told is the NEW HD are being exposed to 1 megapixel quality spread out over a large bright surface and they do not see the benefits of greater accuracy = HD in the display, because for the most part, that difference is not as dramatic, and stuff is still a bit fuzzy. Plasma displays at eye level in stores are the worst culprit. As a result some people see HDTV as a format / shape change from roughly square images to Wide Screen theater type displays that are flat. And the words HIGH and Definition are not being trusted as well. As a result you will see "FULL HD 1080" in marketing to put the HIGH back into the Definition.

THIS COLUMN written by some old guy in Baltimore sums it up pretty well, a huge 1366 x 768 screen was probably what he saw. Perhaps he would fail the 5 foot test With an eye chart of sorts here.

People that buy an HDTV also have worked with a computer... they see 1024 x 768 on a smaller screen without knowing that 768 is the display's pixel resolution ... some have seen a DVD on the computer screen. They seem to accept and relate that HD WideScreen TV is not going to be as sharp and detailed an image as thier computer has, & in my mind that is totally wrong... i blame the 1366 x 768 large flatpanel display makers for this misunderstanding.

A lot of personal computer laptop screens are actually higher in resolution , mine is 1440 x 960 and it and has enough VRAM for a secondary display, so there is a vga port in the back of it. The problems arise when you try to connect it up to a computer, which is by and large the next thing a wide screen HD display owner tries to do.

here is another term you have to live with regardless..
EDID (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EDID)
This is a real hassle, its the handshake between devices that sets the allowable resolution options you can select in the resolution menus of graphics systems.

This causes unavailable resolution to be grayed out and unselectable, even when the real truth would prove that the selection would be just fine, and should be allowed. The only way around this is to use a display driver for that monitor, which may be very hard to find.

There are codes for resolution.
They have the name EDID's and they are standards that exist across the globe, everywhere, but not always implemented in the same way and rarely include the 1366 x 768 resolution option.

WUXGA = 1920 x 1080 = HD1080 16:9 ATSC
WXGA = 1280 x 768/720 = HD720 16:9 generic PC
& by way of example; VGA = 640 x 480.

Standard EDID codes dont exist for 1366 x 768 resolution ...
causing lots of angst when people buy a 1366x768 panel and try to hook it up with VGA connector to a PC or a game machine, to find that 1280x768 is really the only clean resolution they get, and pushed to 1366, everything is rather blocky/blurry... doesnt look right. I'll bet you didnt know that, or if you just bought a 1366x768 HDTV you just found this out and you are seriously pissed about it. For DVI connections its a bit different and you really need the display card MFG and the monitor to behave properly, but not a lot of systems have DVI, you need to get that as an upgrade to your PC. The best solution i have for you is to replace your Graphics card with an nVdia 7600 GT or 7800 series graphics card. At this moment, nVidia does it best. For the technically adventure-centric DIY guy, a shareware program called PowerStrip 3 will attempt to control your graphics card, download it here: http://www.entechtaiwan.com/util/ps.shtm

Be careful though, and have an alternate display available to see what is happening in case you set your system to something unworkable by accident.

You will need perhaps a DVI to HDMI connector cable. Get that here: http://www.bluejeanscable.com/store/dvi/index.htm

There isnt a future for 1366x768. Its just what is available due to chipsets and mfg, and is typical for low end LCD and many displays in Plasma. The plasma crowd is worried about this and producing all kinds of studies about the way people perceive color and motion at whatever viewing distance. If you never hook up a computer display, game machine or networked device, plasma 1366 may be right for you. If not, then this resolution is just Bigger wider brighter and flatter, with fat pixels you can see at 6 feet distance.


The over-whelming fact is.. people are hooking up their laptops and PC's to thier wide screen HDTVs, and this connects more and more people to HD and the web. I have found that people who get 1080p LCD displays have no issues, and those with 1366 displays have to fiddle a bit with the properties panel in the PC. Also, this seems to be one case where Apple does do well, many notebooks of theirs have DVI ports that seem to work out a full screen display.

is a word used by gamers and videopholes.
Basically what can happen is the graphics card/ memory refresh cycle is not completed in the displays refresh time, causing a loss of smooth motion or only getting halfway updated frames.
For 1280x768 this is usually not too much of a problem in a quick computer, but older 1.8 ghz systems with insufficient VRAM resources in memory will fail to produce a useable experience.

CYBERLINK PowerDVD software players...
Some systems will lock up or simply not display, especially when the extended desktop display is the HD screen, and the software wants to display on screen 1... forcing it to the secondary screen 2 while it is in use can crash some machines. In some cases you cannot change the properties in the PC display control to make the external screen become screen 1, and you can actually cause hard problems by doing so.... The best way for that case is is to start the DVD player -- pause it. -- drag the player window to the HD screen, and then restart the player not in full screen mode. pause it , set full screen , play.

There is a fellow on CNet that says he cant always tell the difference between a 1080p and a 1366 display when looking at HD content... AND states several times that the difference between Standard Definition TV and and 1366 HD display is more dramatic than the difference between 1366 and 1920 resolution displays. This is actually true, for him. If a person wears glasses and/or is near sighted, then perhaps the added cost of going from 1366 to 1920 pixel resolution is better spent on other things, so for some people its all good.

However, the difference between Standard Def 480 TV and HD 1080 is really what HD is all about, and in my time in front of displays, the 1080 stuff is preferred.

When the guitar on the wall next to the HDTV and a video or photo of that guitar on the HD screen look identical in detail, then HD becomes the accuracy of reality, it just feels right.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope that others running across this page after googling "why are lcd / plasma hdtv's 1366x768 instead of 1280x720" realize that you're essentially saying it's manufacturer greed.. and we're RIGHT in thinking that it's never an ideal resolution considering all the HDTV standards.

Problem is, the only true 1280x720 displays I can find in the 40-50" range are DLP RPTVs and not LCD/Plasma.

12:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its not really Greed, its more like the technology of years ago still being presented to the marketplace as new. These plasmas have been around for 5 years at least, just repackaged and feature enhanced around the same old stuff.

2:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see, so i have to get a newer graphiocs card by nVidia to get rid of the fuzzy text on my Dell flatscreen. It sort of looks ok at 1280 x 768 which is in the properties, but i want the entire screen.

6:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow - i had no idea - thanks for the clue on nVidia and Powestrip, since my TV has loads of inputs and i think DVI is the way to go.

-- thanks

2:12 PM  
Anonymous Tom Bresson said...


I really want to thank you for such an informative article! I have had a LG DU-37LZ30 for almost 3 years an until today, did not realize that it was a 1366 TV. I guess I just assumed that it had 1080 lines on it, because 1080 signal looks pretty good to me. Coming from a 480i 4:3, I really didn't have much of a reference point. I can gladly say now, however, I am much more informed!



6:21 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Hi Tom
Actually you have one of the nicer 1366 displays, so i'm sure you enjoy it totally. LG has wonderful scalers built in and ranks very high on my OK to BUY lists... You will have hassles hooking it up to some graphics cards, since its DVI really depends on how flexible the graphics card is. nVidia's stuff will work with this.

That display is also one of the nicer designs, real sleek and clean.

7:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And of course to make 1366x768 even more endearing 1366 isn't divisible by 8, which makes a lot of videocards/drivers unhappy. At least nvidia's linux drivers have a separate option to force this. ModeValidation: NoWidthAlignmentCheck. Don't know how to do that on windows without powerstrip. Thanks for the post btw. It does seem boneheaded to make odd-sized displays, for no good reason.

3:59 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clear, concise, and yet still thorough. Very good post, thanks.

11:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks for your article. Yes I'm one of those p-ssed off individuals who has a 1366x768 screen (Toshiba WLT66 32") and a media center with intel graphics that will not display at anything other than 1024x768 with VGA. All the talk of DVI or hdmi just doesn't work as well as vga on the screen. I have dvi, hdmi, component and vga available to me and i have to make do with vga. It's fine and works but hardly the HD revolution everyone is talking up.

Thinking of spending £70.00 on a Gainward Bliss Passive 8600GT nvidia based vid card ready for a Bluray drive later and to get me the resolution although I'm going to check it's available to me before buying. So much time wasted trying to solve such a simple matter.

Can anyone confirm that I can get 1366x768 on a 8600GT ?


9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks for your article. Yes I'm one of those p-ssed off individuals who has a 1366x768 screen (Toshiba WLT66 32") and a media center with intel graphics that will not display at anything other than 1024x768 with VGA. All the talk of DVI or hdmi just doesn't work as well as vga on the screen. I have dvi, hdmi, component and vga available to me and i have to make do with vga. It's fine and works but hardly the HD revolution everyone is talking up.

Thinking of spending £70.00 on a Gainward Bliss Passive 8600GT nvidia based vid card ready for a Bluray drive later and to get me the resolution although I'm going to check it's available to me before buying. So much time wasted trying to solve such a simple matter.

Can anyone confirm that I can get 1366x768 on a 8600GT ?


9:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


First of all, thank you for the very informative read. It made me aware and well informed of what to look for when buying a new HDTV.

I have a question. Why is it that my samsung 32r81 HDTV claims to be 1366x768 but when i hook it up with the pc i could not choose 1366x768 or 1280x720 on VGA, only 1360x768? Native resolution is good and all, but why is it off by 6 pixels? am i doing something wrong?


6:58 AM  
Anonymous Dan B. said...

"Why is it that my samsung 32r81 HDTV claims to be 1366x768 but when i hook it up with the pc i could not choose 1366x768 or 1280x720 on VGA, only 1360x768? Native resolution is good and all, but why is it off by 6 pixels? am i doing something wrong?"

Because 1360 is divisible by 8 and that's what is supported by the video card... perfectly normal. Since this article is really old now, the original articles claims about 1366 being worthless hooked up to a computer are now no longer true. I use a regular ol' VGA imput on my 37" 1366x768 LCD and it automatically displays at 1360x768 and looks wonderful.

6:47 PM  
Anonymous CURTIS said...

Are all tvs that are 1366x768 have a resolution of 1080i because im buying a tv that is 1366x768 but it doesnt state in the specifications if it is 1080i, can you please tell me if it will be1080i or just 720p? thanks

8:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

as far as i can see on mine, the 8600gt does not offer 1366. the closest are 1280X960. 1440x900. But the 8600gt will accept 1680X1050 and 1920X1080. max is 2048x1536. Hope this helps.

6:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have a LG 37 1366x768 LCD. when i use vga output, my pc can show in 1280*768 and 1360*768, but when i switch to 1366*768, the actural screen seems bigger than the display screen. since if i move mouse to the right or left edge, the screen moves as well. and the tv will not accept 1280*720 resolution from my pc, it will show " invalid format" message. as it is the default res from my video card dvi to hdmi output. after some work, i finally got my hdmi work, but the res is little wield. 720p showed as 1096*688, and 1080i showed in similar % of 1920*1080, but the picture image is really good and bright. i'm happy with 1080i setting, my VC is 6600GT with 2 DVI output.

2:39 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Good Point and thanks for making it.

On the LG scalers, 1080i down to 1366x768 has been tuned to be superb ( an it is an i will vouch for that ) ... e.g. the best advice for an LG owner is to hookup a DVI to HDMI adapter and set to 1920x1080 ( or 1920x1200 like i have ) resolution, thus letting the LG do what it does really well.

In fact Samsung and LG recently have produced incredibly popular 37-47" displays at 1366x768 with a price point that is working for the smart consumer.

2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, this makes for an interesting read as i've just purchased a Samsung DVD player which has up-scaling capabilities to 1080P, i cant figure out why it will only accept a resolution setting of 576 even when using a HDMI to HDMI cable between the DVD player and the 37in Samsung TV (which has the 1366x768 resolution). Fair enough the TV is a few years old now so it isn't up to a 1080 standard, but with it suppodedly being "HD Ready" i thought it might get the 720P through the new DVD player. Does anyone know why it wont go to 720 for watching a DVD and if there is anything i can do?

7:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey jkust to let all of you pissed off 1366 owners with PC's i have a Geforce8300 from NVIDIA and i can create any custom resolution i want. ironically i happen to use a straightforward 720P TV so i dont need it. bought it almost 2 years ago so its a 256mb card but my DVI to hdmi looks awesome on it. Thanks for lettin me know about this 1366 shit i was selling at Futureshop and SONT as 720P cause marketers are afraid of confusing consumers. ill do my best to spread the real story.

3:23 PM  
Anonymous Sparks said...

Dear sir,
I am extremely thankful to you.
You're article is replete and loaded to the brim with Knowledge.
I esp liked your Comment those Cnet Bozos!

I'd be pleased if we can chat on yahoo/MSN/Skype some day...

2:01 AM  
Anonymous Fred said...

Jeff, you've opened my eyes with this article, you're awesome!

I was planning to buy an LG LCD TV 42" 42LG30R on sale, at USD $1265 in my home country tomorrow, but now, i think i'll pass. I planned to buy an HD TV to play PS3 games and watch BR Movies in it, but if there's a chance i won't get high quality picture, then it isn't worth it i guess.

Thank you for this

1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I was looking on newegg and found what looks like a good deal on a HD TV. Corion Digital Lifestyles 42" 720p LCD HDTV - FA2B42323


I could not find info on this company or there products. What do you think.

3:23 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Actually i think that 42" is about the size where 1080p is well worth the extra resolution.

Corion may well be a Label for someone elses build, so be careful, sometimes these brand boxes are hard to get repair work done on.

3:23 PM  
Blogger tiny3d said...

I've been thru some issues in hooking up high resolution widescreen monitors using analogue VGA ports.

In order for the PC to see the monitors support for the non-standard resolutions a VGA cable with ALL pins present is required.

If you check your cabling you may find that one of the pins in the connector is missing. That pin is usually not required (as long as standard resolutions are used). I.e. to save money some cables supplied with monitors are lacking that pin. And sadly enough the same goes for many of the cables for sale in the aftermarket.

See the wikipedia article on VGA_connector for information on this (it is called DDC2).

Took me a lot of surfing to figure this out so I hope this entry will help some of you!

8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found this blog entry right after discovering the true resolution of my new Grundig HDTV. I'm hooking it up to a Mac Mini, watching a variety of downloaded content which is compressed anyway. The occasional compression artifacts in a 350 meg TV show file are more noticeable than any scaling artifacts. Once I got the resolution of the display figured out and set the Mini to use 1366x768 (use DisplayConfigX or SwitchResX) the display is surprisingly sharp. I could use this 37" 499EUR screen as a monitor to work on if need be it's so clear. The Wii looks fine as well. None of this is true HD, but for a person more interested in content than quality I'm quite happy with the picture for the price. I'm just glad I eventually figured out the resolution as 1024x768 was incorrect aspect ratio, and 720P was all overscanned. I wasted an hour tweaking front and back porch and other insane settings based off of 720P before I realized how easy it was once I knew the proper resolution of the panel.

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

GREAT article. I just bought a monitor with 1366*768, and fiddeled desperately with xorg.conf to get it to show that resolution. To no avail. Now I know why. It looks good with 1280*768, so I'll settle with that resolution.

5:05 AM  
Anonymous Dell Laptop Lcd Screens said...

Wow It really seems like mister here did his homework! Great effort in constructing this information, I really got a new sense of what's going on. Well, at least we can call it an update to what I already knew. But it's good to have yourself really looking into this stuff and putting it out there. I probably would have not investigated this material in wow g-d knows how long. I can really say I picked up some knowledge from this piece and you can most definitely count me referring some readers to your page, thanks! Really enjoyed and it was my pleasure to read on!

6:13 AM  
Blogger Brandon said...

Too bad i'm reading all of this on my brand new samsung 32" 1366/768 HD TV :(

5:03 PM  
Anonymous bob said...

to the person that said.....

I see, so i have to get a newer graphiocs card by nVidia to get rid of the fuzzy text on my Dell flatscreen. It sort of looks ok at 1280 x 768 which is in the properties, but i want the entire screen.

ALL DFP(digital flat panels) LCDs are clear when they are run at native resolution.

so if you have a monitor that does 1280x1024 do not run it at 800x600 it will look bad.

also make sure you have "clear type" selected. when the question is "use the following method to smooth edges of screen fonts"

it is found in the display properties then appearance then effects. in windows xp

any questions ask here.

4:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have 1366 x 768 res on the ATI catalyst driver and fits perfectly pixel by pixel with Everest monitor tool and auto adjust.
Also I played various games on that resolution (like devil may cry 4, and gears of war, between others)
But really through Component cable the video at 720p really sucks... so if you can use a VGA analog connector, better, if you can't... the image quality will suck (at least on my LCD HDTV)

3:40 PM  
Anonymous FreeBird said...


11:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Question... Is there anyway to change the 1366x768 resolution to 1280x768 on my laptop without getting the black bars on the sides?

any answer would be greatly appreciated.

1:12 AM  
Anonymous Freddeh said...

Remember, this was posted way back at the end of 2006, the year when dual core processors were just starting to become popular. If you got a TV in 2009 or 2010 that's 1366x768 don't worry about it, it's a perfectly damn good TV. It has a scaler, sure, but those have improved in the past several years...

Hell, I bought a 1366x768 [1080i/720p] TV around Christmas time and it runs everything beautifully. In fact, when I compared it to one of my friend's 1920x1080 [1080p] monitor, both running the xbox 360 [via hdmi] with various games, everyone agreed that mine looked much nicer, despite the fact that the xbox 360 outputs in 1080p.

And my TV is from a company I'd never even heard of. Assuming you get a popular brand TV a 1366x768 should be just fine.

12:30 PM  
Blogger Yan said...


I had read the whole article but I'm still a bit confused.

I have a 1366x768 tv, and a 360, should I set my 360 to 720p or 1080i?


5:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can i watch a 1080p video on a 1366x768 display?
Will it be able to display the full information of the video?

10:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a real disgrace.

I realized this posting is from back in December 2006. It is now exactly 4 years later and I am currently looking for a Laptop, not too big fo be practially portable (as in below 15").

There are probably only 5 laptops on the entire market, that are NOT bound to the 1366x768 resolution but do run on higher ones.

The scaling may have improved a lot and my problem I have with this resolution might not be related to watching HD movies as it is.

I just think this resolution is the most awful ever brought to the market and ALL laptops from 11" to 15" are manufactured with these displays!

I'm a gamer and want a decent resolution on the games I'm running on my future laptop. I'll be using Windows 7 and want more than just maximum five icons on my desktop, vertically.
Even watching websites is partially just awful to watch on it.

I have good eyes and I am totally okay with small icons, if that is their excuse.

Just give me the CHOICE!

I almost feel like I'm forced to buy an overpriced Apple, which I do not want to support with my hard earned money or Sony, which does not allow me to customize my laptop in any way.
With laptops on the market with proper resolutions, I would've spent some money on this a long time a go.

Why is it, that they are all relying so much on 1366x768?

7:31 AM  

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