Part of the Multimedia and graphics glossary:

Progressive scan is a display and signal type in which the entire image is refreshed every cycle.

In a progressive scan display at 60hz, the image is refreshed in its entirety 60 times per second; in a display at 120hz the image is completely refreshed 120 times per second. Each scan displays every line in the image raster sequentially from top to bottom. In an interlaced scan, alternating rows of pixels are refreshed in each cycle and it takes two cycles to refresh every row of pixels in the display.

A progressive display produces a more stable and flicker-free picture, with smooth motion and a more realistic image. The improvement is especially noticeable for the fast-moving images typical of television and DVD programs.

In TV signal specifications, like 720p, 1080i or 1080p the numeral indicates the number of horizontal lines in the complete raster. The p stands for progressive scanning.

This was last updated in September 2013
Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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