Standard NTSC TVs have 525 lines of vertical resolution, some of which are used up encoding things like closed captioning and stuff, so in practice it’s actually 484 lines.
That’s INTERLACED - 484 “fields” at 60 times a second, with each “field” being only the odd or even lines, not both. Actual horizontal resolution of NTSC in computer terms 242 lines at 30 FRAMES per second (okay, 29.97 fps, but that’s splitting hairs).
The trick is, normal TV is analog - there IS no set horizontal resolution. It’s fixed at 242 lines top to bottom, but the number of lines you get left to right depends on your input source, TV electronics, signal strength, and so on.
With composite video, you probably get a resolution on your TV of 220 lines across at best. With S-Video or component, more like 400-480. Most non-HDTVs can’t display more than that.
A lot of good new TVs have “line doublers” and stuff in them to give the TV a lot more vertical resolution by doubling up all those interlaced horizontal lines. It works well, but is not substitute for HDTV.
To put it in approximate computer terms…
Composite video = 220x242 resolution (yikes!)
S-Video = 420x242
Component = whatever your TV can handle. =)
One of the big reasons TVs don’t look as bad as their stats is because they’re not sharp. Colors bleed into one another and stuff. Once they started making really sharp TVs, they had to build in all kinds of circuitry to fill in the gaps and double up lines and junk to make it look right.
Jumping from composite video to s-video on a decent normal TV is the PC equivalent of jumping from 640x480 to almost 1024x768 - a little more than twice the picture information!
I thought the resolution of the output was going to be about 640x480 on a TV regardless. The posts above seem to indicate that using a different cable will actually change the resolution of the output. Is that true?
Yes, because there are no discrete “pixels” on a TV, not like on a PC. A TV just draws horizontal lines from top to bottom, one screen of odd lines then one screen of even lines, at a certain speed. It’s analog, like a radio. The more info you can send it and the better the TV can process it, the more changes in color/brightness it can do on each of those lines as it works its way down the screen. Just like having better radio circuitry or picking up a stronger signal can inprove the “resolution” of an FM radio and make it sound better.
[quoteMy TV has s-video and component inputs. Am I going to notice a difference if I use the component inputs? Is this the same concept as increasing the resolution on my pc monitor from 640x480 to 800x600?[/quote]
Probably not, not unless you have an HDTV. You WILL notice a difference using the S-Video instead of composite, though. Don’t confuse COMPOSITE (one yellow jack) with COMPONENT (three jacks-red, green, and blue). I’m not trying to insult your intelligence, it’s just a common mistake.