Does Screen Resolution Affect Video Quality?

By Melly Parker

High-quality video and images show better color and more detail.
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Whether you're working on an art project on your computer or watching a new release on your television, you want to see the clearest possible image. Ultimately the picture quality you see is dependent on several things, including the screen resolution of your television or monitor, the content itself and the device that's outputting the content. The quality of the image is limited by the lowest-quality part of the group.

Screen Resolution

The screen resolution does affect the quality that you can see, because a screen can only output at its highest possible resolution. While it doesn't change the quality of the video file itself, it does change what you see on the screen. An old television, for example, can't play a 1080p video at 1080p. The quality of the content is limited by the quality that the screen can display. Since resolution is a measure of pixels on the screen, a higher resolution display has more pixels while one with a lower resolution has less.

Video Quality

The quality of the video you're playing will affect how it looks on the screen. A high-resolution screen won't increase the resolution of the media you're watching. If you want the best possible quality, look for a copy of the content you're going to play that will display in high-definition -- 720p or 1080p.

Output Device

Some devices aren't capable of producing high levels of video quality. Even if your screen resolution is 1080p and the video quality is exceptionally high, the device playing the content matters. If you're using a video streaming box that can only output video at 720p, for example, you'll never see video quality higher than 720p, no matter what resolution your screen can display.

Streaming Content

If you're watching streaming content, you may not be seeing the highest resolution image available if your Internet connection is slow. Amazon Streaming Video, Hulu and Netflix, for example, adjust the video quality based on your speed. Since it takes a lot of bandwidth to stream video, slow connections will experience laggy video, especially with high-definition content. By lowering the quality, the video is streamed more smoothly but with less detail.