Resolution is the most-talked-about HD TV specification. It deals with the sharpness of the screen. By now you've all heard the terms 720p and 1080p.This article will give you a little insight into what resolution is and why it's important.

If you go into the store to purchase a new television these resolutions will be prominently displayed. However they might not be as important as you think.

This is especially true if you are moving into the world of HDTV for the first time. Compared to an old standard TV, just about any HDTV will look spectacular, no matter what the resolution. Many experts in the field will tell you that they consider things like contrast ratio, color saturation, and color accuracy to be more important than resolution.

That said, when you choose a HDTV, the resolution will be the first thing you see when you start shopping. The resolution is the number of pixels on the screen. All other things being equal, more pixels will produce a better, sharper image. A 720p television has 1280 horizontal pixels and 720 vertical pixels. A 1080p television has the same number of horizontal pixels (1280) but has 1080 vertical pixels, essentially giving you more detail in the picture. The "p" stands for progressive scanning which is superior to another scanning technique called interlaced scanning, which is represented by an "i". You don't have to worry about the ‘i" or the "p" because most televisions sold in the US today use progressive scanning.

1080p is the best resolution available today and you will pay a premium to get it. Having a 1080p TV, however, is only good if you have 1080p content to show on the TV. Unfortunately, currently there are no over-the-air television broadcasts in the United States that are transmitted in 1080p. Although television stations and cable and satellite providers have the ability to transmit in that resolution, few are willing to take that step because 1080p transmissions take up a lot of bandwidth. At this time there are only a few satellite provider that utilize the 1080p format and these are strictly limited to their pay-per-view movies.

So most people will find that the only way to enjoy the full details of a 1080p television is to purchase a Blu-ray DVD player. Blu-ray disks are formatted in the full 1080p resolution and will show off the full potential of a 1080p TV.

Whether you purchase a 720p or 1080p television, standard-definition content won't necessarily look any better. Although ,depending on the television, the signal may be upconverted to make it look better. In some geographic areas, you can get hi-def signals over the air. You can also get hi-def stations through cable and satellite providers.

If you don't want to purchase a Blu-ray player, you can still use your old DVD player and your old movies will look better than ever.  Standard DVDs, which are 480p in resolution, will be upconverted by a HDTV and will look noticeably better on a HDTV, whether it is 720p or 1080p.

One other thing needs to be taken into consideration when talking about resolutions. In order to see the extra detail that a 1080p TV provides, the screen size must be quite large. That is why HTDVs are generally quite a bit larger than the old standard definition televisions. Also, you need to site close enough to the TV for your eyes to actually be able to see the extra details.

This is where it gets a little confusing. Basically, unless you have a very short distance between you and the TV, you will need a larger screen with 1080p than with 720p. That's one reason why most televisions in smaller screen sizes will be 720p rather than 1080p. Even with 1080p Blu-ray disks, the 1080p quality only begins to become noticeably better as the screen size increases.

You can see from these details that although 1080p is the premium resolution, 720p TVs are a lower-cost option, and may be perfectly fine depending on your needs.

Besides the options like plasma, LCD, LED, 720p and 1080p, there are plenty of other specifications that you can look at when purchasing an HDTV. Higher end televisions will also have things like better contrast ratios, extra HDMI ports for attaching additional equipment, and Internet connectivity. Higher ends LCD and LED TVs will also have higher refresh rates and better backlighting.

If you want the best hardware, look at the 3-D TVs. You may not want 3-D in a television. If you are like me, you may not even like it, but 3-D TVs have higher hardware requirements and will, in effect, be the best televisions, even without the 3-D.

Not everyone will want or need the best or costliest HDTV. Fortunately there are sizes and models available to suit the needs of almost everyone.