Clever Topics

Projector Resolution

The resolution is the number of pixels that make up an image – e.g. 800 x 600 means the picture is made of 800 columns of pixels by 600 rows of pixels; for a total of 480.000 (800×600) pixels making up the whole image. The larger the number of pixels the higher the resolution and the sharper and more detailed the image is.
When comparing projectors, we are comparing their native resolution: most projectors are compatible with higher source resolution through the use of compression technology, but the native resolution is the actual number of physical pixels.


There is a range of resolutions available:

Resolution Number of pixels Aspect ratio Description
SVGA 800×600
480.000 pixels
4:3 Entry level projector reolution which is quite popular thanks to the lower purchase cost.
WVGA 854×480
409.920 px
16:9 Entry level home cinema resolution, also often refered to as 480p
XGA 1024×768
786.432 px
4:3 Currently the most popular resolution as it is compatible with most computers and notebooks and provides good value for money.
HD2 1280×720
921.600 px
16:9 Mid range home cinema resolution also known as 720p. It is the minimum resolution a projector needs to be to be HD Ready.
WXGA 1280×800
1.024.000 px
16:10 An increasingly popular resolution for use with widescreen laptop computers.
SXGA+ 1400×1050
1.470.000 px
4:3 High range resolution used for very detailed applications such as CAD drawings or video surveillance.
UXGA 1600×1200
1.920.000 px
4:3 High range resolution used for the most detailed applications such as technical plans or medical applications.
HD 1920×1080
2.073.600 px
16:9 High range home cinema resolution also known as 1080p. This resolution is true HD resolution.
2K 2048×1080
2.211.840 px
  The highest commercial home cinema resolution. The high cost of these projectors make them accessible only to the wealthiest people.


What resolution is best for you?

Projectors are compatible with different resolutions, converting different input resolution to the native output resolution. This process is called ‘scaling’.
However, scaling always causes a loss of picture quality: it is not as sharp and detailed. This happens not only when the projector is of lower resolution than the source but also when the projector is of higher resolution.
Therefore it is always advised to match the projector resolution to the source’s resolution (e.g. if you are using an XGA laptop you should if possible use an XGA projector). This will ensure you are getting the sharpest and cleanest image.

Another factor in choosing the right resolution for your projector is the typical application:

  • If you are using the projector for ‘Powerpoint’ type applications, you don’t need a very high resolution; SVGA should be enough.
  • If you are using the projector for numeric data presentations, ‘Excel’ spreadsheets etc. where the image needs to be clearer, XGA is recommended.
  • If you are projecting highly detailed technical data such as engineering drawings, or high end photography, SXGA or UXGA resolutions would be best.
  • If you are using a widescreen computer or are buying a projector for home cinema, choose a widescreen projector that will match the computer resolution or the quality of video you would like to have.

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