High-Definition viewing has become very common in households today, with a large number of devices that are able to show content in the highest resolution possible. 1080p is the resolution that is also known as Full HD content, and this represents the clearest possible picture that you can see on the screen. The picture quality will be so sharp and the colors will be so contrasting that you will feel like you are actually staring at the image in real life.
What Does 1080p Mean
The 'P' in 1080p resolution stands for Progressive and this implies the manner in which the picture frame is displayed on the screen. The 1080 vertical lines that are displayed are scanned and produced in a progressive manner and this is what causes the picture quality to be very clear. Each of these lines contain 1920 frames of pixels, and each of these frames contain color so as to deliver the best picture possible. This is what is meant when we say that an HDTV has a resolution of 1920 x 1080. In this scenario, each frame is colored progressively from top to bottom without leaving any frame empty, thus delivering a supremely clear picture.
Now consider the case of 1080i resolution. This was the standard resolution for high-end HDTVs before 1080p came into the market. The 'I' here stands for Interlaced, and in this case alternate pixels are colored from top to bottom. Hence in the first line all the even numbered pixels will be colored, in the second line the odd numbered pixels will be colored, in the third line the even numbered pixels will be colored and so on. The clarity produced here is impressive, but not at par with that produced by 1080p resolution. Needless to say, this coloring of the pixels happens so fast that we cannot see it with the naked eye.
What is Upconversion
Standard DVDs that are available in the market are shot at a resolution of 480p, which is significantly lower than the output that 1080p HDTV sets are capable of producing. Hence when you view a standard DVD on an HDTV, you will find many discolored and pixellated spots on the screen. This lowers the video quality and ruins the viewing experience completely, so a solution has been created for it. This solution is what is known as Upconversion, and this occurs when a DVD player prepares a lower resolution picture to play on a higher resolution TV set. Most new DVD players are capable of this feat, and all Blu-Ray players are also capable of performing this. Hence when someone asks you about it, you can say that is simply the process of turning lower quality videos into higher quality so that it can be viewed on an HD screen.
If you compare a proper Blu-Ray or HD disc with a DVD then the differences will be quite obvious even after the DVD content has been upconverted to 1080p resolution. So such players are suitable for people who do not own a Blu-Ray player or do not want to spend too much money on expensive Blu-Ray content, and prefer to buy DVD content instead. But it is very important for the individual to have a monitor that is capable of producing 1080p content in the first place, or else this upconversion process will be in vain.
The actual process of converting 480p resolution into 1080p resolution is one that is incredibly complex and requires a detailed study of video editing, and the concepts of deinterlacing and scaling as well. If this process is not carried out well, an HDTV can make DVD content look even worse than what it actually is. Hence the need for a good upconverting DVD player or Blu-Ray player is absolutely vital.
The prime advantage of using such a device is that of the cost that is saved, and this is a good enough reason for the majority of people around the world. As time goes by, 1080p content will become even more common and this will cause the prices of expensive HD content to fall, and DVD upconverters will slowly be phased out. For the time being, these upconverters are a very attractive option for most people.