Overscan on Your TV, an Introduction

A lot of people have gone from using their PC’s for email and internet have found that they can hook up their TV to the HDMI port on their video card for big screen gaming or web browsing, or even for Blu-ray (or other) movie watching. But, one question that comes up often, I’ve noticed, is why the whole screen is not displayed on their television. The short and simple answer is Overscan. Engadget has a introduction article explaining what overscan is, and how to correct it. If you have your PC/Laptop hooked up to your TV, this article is worth reading. Although, I don’t agree with the first sentence (most geeks can understand it completely fine, myself included), the rest of the article is very good.

The concept of overscan seems particularly difficult for geeks to comprehend — normal people usually don’t care to even understand it — and some even get down right confrontational when they first learn that all TVs do it. But the fact is that even the latest LCDs and plasmas don’t show all 2 million pixels of a 1080p signal out of the box. Instead about 3 percent of ’em are cropped off the edges (as illustrated by the red line in the image above) and the remaining pixels are scaled to fill in all the pixels of your HDTV. The real kick in the head is that the reason isn’t a good one, especially when you consider the advanced technology that’s available today.