1440p is a newer resolution of high-definition television and movies, referring to the resolution of the picture itself. The number 1440 refers to the vertical resolution of the picture, indicating 1440 pixels in the vertical axis. This is understood to be combined with the standard 16:9 aspect ratio of high-definition television, indicating a horizontal resolution of 2560. This yields an overall pixel count of 3,686,400 pixels for a television in 1440p resolution, substantially higher than the 2,073,600 pixels found on a 1080p television.
High-definition television dates back to the 1930s, although the televisions considered to be high-definition then would be considered rather low-definition today. It wasn’t until the 1960s, when the Japanese first began experimenting with truly high-definition color televisions, that high-definition TV became a real possibility. In the 1980s, the technology from these Japanese televisions began to make its way to the United States, where they immediately took everyone by storm. In fact, Ronald Reagan, on seeing a high-definition television for the first time, said it should be a national priority to get high-definition in every home. The FCC, however, saw the extremely high bandwidth requirements of high-definition television as rendering the technology infeasible, and so refused to approve it.
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Once digital technologies made their way fully into television, however, this bandwidth problem vanished. Digital compression techniques allowed for extremely high-resolution images to be compressed down to a fraction of their size and transmitted using relatively little bandwidth. Standards began to be formed, with one area of early debate the ultimate aspect ratio of this new high-definition television. A number of ideas were put forth, and ultimately 16:9 was decided upon as a reasonable compromise between the 5:3 ratio found on the earlier Japanese high-definition televisions and many others, and the stranger ratio used in most movie cinemas. The original spec laying out high-definition television included the 1080i and 1080p resolutions, but did not have the 1440p resolution, or the lower-resolution of 720p, which it was decided was not truly high-definition.
It was the 720p resolution, however, which would make the first real inroads into high-definition broadcast on network television. A number of networks, including ABC, ESPN, and Fox, use 720p as their resolution of choice. The other majorly used resolution, 1080i, has a higher pixel resolution, but because the picture is interlaced to save bandwidth, may appear a bit jumpy. These networks have chosen 720p because it is a preferable format for things that require fast scanning, such as sports, while channels such as NBC and HBO have chosen 1080i for its image quality.
1440p, although not widely adopted, is the likely eventually successor to 720p. It is in many ways the same format, but with a much higher pixel count. The resolution axes are exactly doubled, which creates a quadruple increase in overall pixels: 3,686,400 for the 1440p as opposed to 921,600 for the 720p. This creates a much crisper, much cleaner image, and width compression technologies improving, and bandwidth capabilities growing quickly, the added bandwidth cost is becoming less and less of a concern.