Why Don’t We Have 1440p TVs?

Acer Predator X27U Gaming Monitor
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek

1440p offers a resolution improvement over 1080p without the 4K cost, but it’s not an official TV broadcast standard. 1440p TVs theoretically may be cheaper, eco-friendly, and ideal for rendering games, but the industry is now focusing on higher resolutions like 8K.

You’ve probably wondered why 1440p, the popular monitor resolution of 2560×1440 pixels, isn’t a television standard. After all, it offers a significant increase in pixel density compared to 1080p (1920×1080) without the 4K tax. So why not for TVs too?

Why 1440p Is Awesome

1440p adds up to 3,686,400 pixels, while 1080p totals 2,073,600 pixels. That’s 56.25% of 1440p, meaning you get nearly twice the number of pixels compared to 1080p. There’s a clear and dramatic resolution improvement from 1080p to 1440p, but the same can’t be said going from 1440p to 4K.

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4K clocks in at a mind-boggling 8,294,400 pixels, or exactly four times the pixel count of 1080p. On paper, that’s massive and offers more than twice the image quality at 1440p. However, in real life, most people sit so far from their televisions that they can’t resolve the difference between 1440p and 4K, or in many cases, even 1080p!

Starico Viewing Distance Chart

Looking at the above chart, if you sit further than 5 feet from your 55-inch 4K TV, it looks no different from a 1440p TV of the same size. Now, we know that there are numerous asterisks to this with variables such as visual acuity and whether you’re looking a rendered or pre-recorded content. Still, by and large, you’re losing most of the benefits of 4K if you sit too far away from your screen. Even with a massive 85-inch TV, you need to sit eight feet or closer to get the full benefits.

This might not matter all that much when you’re watching 4K content, such as 4k streaming or UHD Blu-ray content, but where it does make a huge difference is rendered content from video games. Rendering “natively” at 4K is a massive undertaking for any gaming system, and it inevitably means sacrificing other more impactful features, such as better lighting or effects in video games.

1440p offers an amazing balance of resolution and detail, making it the best middle road for gamers. In fact, as the current generation of consoles rolls on, new games are increasingly rendering at 1440p internally and then upscaling the result to 4K with mixed results.

Console makers have no choice but to deal with the TV standards the industry has settled on, but in the PC world there are numerous resolution options, and so even PC gamers with massively powerful rigs tend to favor high-refresh 1440p monitors over 4K monitors that offer debatable image quality benefits

The Benefits of 1440p TVs

So why would a 1440p TV be something you’d want? What are the real benefits? First of all, 1440p panels (not the whole TV, just the panel) are likely to be cheaper than 4K panels. The more pixels in a display of a given size, the likelier a panel will be defective, which drives up the costs of panels that pass quality control. Better yields should lead to cheaper panels.

Since modern consoles now render many games at 1440p anyway, you might get better image quality from a native 1440p panel that doesn’t scale the image. Some games may still render at less than 1440p, but you’ll get full use of all your pixels for most games. Games that target resolutions near or at 4K generally only offer 30fps performance unless it’s a much older title with simpler graphics.

There might even be an eco-friendly side to 1440p TV since, with fewer pixels, the set should use less power. This is especially true for technologies like OLED, where each pixel is its own light source.

Basically, it would be less wasteful and potentially less expensive than a 4K set with the same features and size, but too far away to enjoy the benefit of 4K but too close to hide the flaws in 1080p.

There’s No 1440p Broadcast Standard

We don’t see 1440p TVs because there’s no broadcast standard for this resolution. Bodies like the International Telecommunication Union set broadcast standards, and they determine the technical aspects of television broadcasts, including resolution.

Currently, the standards are set for 720p, 1080i/p, 4K, and 8K. Without a broadcast standard for 1440p, there’s no incentive for broadcasters to produce content at this resolution, nor for manufacturers to make TVs that support it. This might be why Sony didn’t bother to offer 1440p support on the PS5 initially, but since enough console gamers now use 1440p monitors, they eventually included it in an update.

Plenty of non-TV devices (such as smartphones) have 1440p displays, so you’ll see this resolution supported on streaming services such as YouTube.

They Might Not Be Much Cheaper

While it might seem logical to assume that a 1440p TV would be cheaper than a 4K model in theory, that might not be true in practice. The cost of a TV isn’t determined solely by its display panel resolution. Other factors, such as the quality of the panel, smart features, and brand reputation, also play a significant role. Just because the panels might have a higher yield and lower cost, that doesn’t necessarily affect other components of a modern TV.

1080p Doesn’t Scale Perfectly (But 720p Does!)

Another reason we don’t have 1440p TVs lies in the way video content is scaled. 1440p is exactly four times the resolution of 720p, meaning that content at the lower resolution can be scaled up perfectly. Each pixel in the 720p image corresponds to a 2×2 block of pixels on the 1440p display.

However, 1080p content doesn’t scale as neatly. If you try to fit a 1080p image onto a 1440p display, you end up with a mismatch. Each pixel in the 1080p image corresponds to a fractional pixel count in the 1440p display. This can lead to image distortion or a softer picture, which is not ideal.

By contrast, 4K is exactly four times the resolution of 1080p, allowing for perfect scaling. This is one of the reasons why 4K has been widely adopted in the TV market, while 1440p has not. Of course, this has, in turn, created the whole aforementioned issue of 1440p console games needing to be scaled up to 4K using clever math.

8K Is Around The Corner

While talking about 1440p TVs, we can’t ignore that 8K is already making its way into the market. With a resolution of 7680×4320 pixels, it offers four times the detail of 4K and sixteen times that of 1080p.

As technology advances, the trend is towards higher resolutions. Manufacturers are investing in developing and marketing 8K TVs, seeing this as the industry’s future. Introducing a new, lower-resolution standard like 1440p doesn’t make much business sense in this scenario.

While 8K content is still scarce, this is similar to what we saw when 4K TVs first arrived. As the technology becomes more prevalent, we expect to see more content produced in 8K. Later generations of GPUs and more pre-recorded content will default to 4K as the cost and computation power to hit that resolution becomes trivial in the same way 1080p is today.

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