Will I lose video quality if I hook a PC to a TV?

skyf

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Jul 18, 2005
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Just replaced my old LED TV with a TCL Roku TV. As before, I connected my PC to the TV for playing movies.

But I'm wondering if connecting to a PC will reduce the video quality of a 4K TV? My PC is a 5-year-old, Win8 Dell with no video card. Resolution is set for 1920 x 1080, and the TV connection is via HDMI cable. But if I play a movie over my PC and stream it over HDMI to the TV, will the picture quality be inferior compared to watching the Roku channels embedded in the TV, or connecting a DVD player or USB stick to the TV?

In other words, now that I have a 4K TV, do I need a better computer?
 

jdlech2

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Mar 27, 2018
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The resolution of a standard DVD is 720x480 (480i).
The resolution of a standard Bluray AND HD-DVD is 1920 x 1080 (1080i).
Meanwhile....
The maximum resolution that HDMI V1.0 can manage is 1920 x 1200 (1080p)
Meaning, as long as your TV can manage the 1080i standard, you should have no quality loss **as long as you get a decent quality cable**, (cable quality CAN matter. a cheap cable might work fine or bollux everything)

But do remember this:bigger screens don't look as sharp as smaller ones at the same resolution simply because the pixels are farther apart.

If you're watching standard DVDs on your laptop at 1280x1024, what is happening is the computer is expanding the video - not increasing the DVDs resolution. You're not actually getting any better resolution out of your DVD. Think of it like this - if you have a low resolution image on your computer, and print it out on a high resolution printer, the printer is not turning it into a high resolution image. The printer is simply making a highly accurate copy of a low resolution image. The printed picture will remain no better than the original.
The same happens on your computer - a 1080i video from a BlueRay displayed on a 4K TV will look the same as displayed on a 1080i TV (as it would on any theoretical 8K or even a 16K TV). You can't "gain" quality; but you can lose it. The same 1080i BlueRay video displayed on a 480p or a 720p TV *definitely WILL* look worse. It's like taking a high quality image and printing it out on a low quality printer.

So your limiting factor is actually your DVDs. You would need to get everything on HD-DVD, or BlueRay (or better) to improve picture quality.

Hope I helped.
 

justin.m.beauvais

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Your TV will display whatever resolution the computer outputs at. So, if your PC can support a 4k desktop resolution, then it will display in 4k. My 3 yr old laptop with integrated graphics can display 4k on a 4k TV. If the computer can only display at 1080p, then you will get a 1080p resolution when your computer is hooked up. It won't look horrible, but it won't be a crisp clear 4K picture.

4k games is another story. Sure, I could play Stardew Valley at 4k, but that game will run on a potato... the Intel integrated graphics could NOT handle anything else. Movies were even a little choppy on that laptop. If you just want to watch 4k movies, then you will probably be able to if you have a discrete graphics card (GeForce or Radeon). If you run into problems with that, then an upgraded video card might be in order... that said, the movies will only display in the resolution they are encoded in. In many cases, streamed media is still all in 1080p. There are 4k options, but there isn't a ton of native 4k video. So... I guess it all depends.
 

jdlech2

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Mar 27, 2018
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The resolution of a standard DVD is 720x480 (480i).
The resolution of a standard Bluray AND HD-DVD is 1920 x 1080 (1080i).
Meanwhile....
The maximum resolution that HDMI V1.0 can manage is 1920 x 1200 (1080p)
Meaning, as long as your TV can manage the 1080i standard, you should have no quality loss **as long as you get a decent quality cable**, (cable quality CAN matter. a cheap cable might work fine or bollux everything)

But do remember this:bigger screens don't look as sharp as smaller ones at the same resolution simply because the pixels are farther apart.

If you're watching standard DVDs on your laptop at 1280x1024, what is happening is the computer is expanding the video - not increasing the DVDs resolution. You're not actually getting any better resolution out of your DVD. Think of it like this - if you have a low resolution image on your computer, and print it out on a high resolution printer, the printer is not turning it into a high resolution image. The printer is simply making a highly accurate copy of a low resolution image. The printed picture will remain no better than the original.
The same happens on your computer - a 1080i video from a BlueRay displayed on a 4K TV will look the same as displayed on a 1080i TV (as it would on any theoretical 8K or even a 16K TV). You can't "gain" quality; but you can lose it. The same 1080i BlueRay video displayed on a 480p or a 720p TV *definitely WILL* look worse. It's like taking a high quality image and printing it out on a low quality printer.

So your limiting factor is actually your DVDs. You would need to get everything on HD-DVD, or BlueRay (or better) to improve picture quality.

Hope I helped.
 

skyf

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Jul 18, 2005
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Thanks for some great answers, folks. It sounds like my PC will be fine for a while, at least until there is more 4K content. In that case, it sounds like I'll need a newer PC and video card capable of better than 1920 x 1080.
 
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