What Does a Progressive Scan Mean?


The days without high-definition televisions (HDTV) and DVDs seem like a distant past. Progressive scan is one of the major reasons that previous technology has been ushered out in favor of the crystal-clear technology of today.

Interlaced Picture

  • Before progressive scan entered our homes, we were watching standard definition with an interlaced picture. An interlaced picture alternates illuminating even lines and odd lines, but never the two simultaneously. This is all done within 1/30 of a second, so the shifting isn't noticeable to the human eye.

Progressive Scan

  • As progressive scan was made available, the visual flaws of standard definition became more clear. Progressive scan eliminates the alternation between odd and even lines in favor of rendering an image with all of the lines at the same time. This allows for more clarity in the image and is especially noticeable when watching fast-moving video.

Video Formats

  • When a video format is referred to as 480p, 720p or 1080p, the "p" indicates that this is a progressive scan signal. The numbers 480, 720 and 1080 represent the number of horizontal lines of resolution that the video signal uses.

Easy on the Eyes

  • The more that an image refreshes per second, the better it will be on your eyes no matter what resolution it is. An interlaced format refreshing at 60 Hz (times per second) will always produce less flicker than a progressive scan refreshing at 30 Hz. When both refresh at the same number of times per second, though, the progressive scan appears smoother.


  • Progressive scan HDTVs have become increasingly popular with their development. According to Nielsen studies, over one-third of American households have at least one HDTV in their house---a number that continues to climb steadily.

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