Today, we will discuss the topic of 240p resolution and its impact on modern television displays. We will cover the various resolutions within this format, as well as why it may appear to look poor on modern screens. Additionally, we will discuss how to stream games at 240p while still maintaining a good viewing experience.
What does the 240 in 240p mean?
The “240” in 240p refers to the number of vertical pixels in the resolution. In a 240p resolution, there are 240 rows of pixels from top to bottom.
A 240p resolution has a fixed number of vertical pixels (240) but the horizontal resolution can vary. Here are some common horizontal resolutions that are used in a 240p signal:
Note that these are not the only possible resolutions for a 240p signal, but are some of the most common ones. The aspect ratio for all the above resolutions is 4:3.
What does the P mean in 240p
Progressive scan is a method of displaying video in which all of the lines of the video frame are drawn in sequence, one after the other. This is in contrast to interlaced scan, where the video frame is divided into two fields, with the odd lines of the frame being drawn first and the even lines being drawn second.
Progressive scan results in a more stable and flicker-free image, because all the lines of the image are displayed at the same time. It also provides a better vertical resolution and reduces motion artifacts. Progressive scan is also less demanding on the video source, as it doesn’t require the video source to produce two separate fields of the same image.
Progressive scan is typically used in higher resolution video formats such as 720p and 1080p. Lower resolution formats such as 576i and 480i, use interlaced scan.
How does a 240p signal get interpreted by modern TVs
The number of pixels a TV can display, also known as its resolution, has a direct impact on how an incoming 240p signal is displayed. A modern high-resolution TV will have many more pixels than a 240p signal, so the TV will have to “stretch” or “upscale” the image to fill its screen. This process can cause the image to appear pixelated and blurry, since the TV is effectively creating new pixels to fill the gaps between the original ones.
There are devices that make this easier, called upscalers, such as the OSSC, RetroTink and so on. You Plus the original hardware into the device, which then outputs via HDMI cable.
Additionally, if the TV has a higher resolution than the incoming signal, the TV will have to decide how to display the lower resolution image on its screen. The TV may choose to center the image and have black bars on the side, or it can stretch the image to fill the screen which will result in distorted images.
This is why performances vary wildly between sets, modern TV manufacturers do not consider these older resolutions and how to properly make them, there is no true modern TV made for retro consoles, although some do get close.
On the other hand, if the TV has a lower resolution than the incoming signal, the TV will have to decide which pixels to discard in order to fit the image on its screen. This will result in a loss of detail in the image.
Overall, the resolution of the TV and the resolution of the incoming signal must match in order for the image to be displayed as “intended”
Which consoles outputted in 240p?
Many consoles from the early days of video gaming outputted in 240p resolution. Some examples include:
- Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
- Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)
- Sega Genesis/Mega Drive
- Sega Master System
- Atari 2600
- Atari 7800
- NEC PC Engine (TurboGrafx-16)
- NEC PC-Engine CD (TurboGrafx-CD)
- 3DO Interactive Multiplayer
- PlayStation 1
- Sega Saturn
These consoles were released in the late 1970s to mid-1990s, and were some of the most popular video game consoles of their time. They were all capable of outputting video in the 240p resolution, and many games were designed to be played in this resolution.
It’s worth noting that some of the consoles listed above were also capable of outputting in higher resolutions like 480i but most of the games were designed to be played in 240p.
Related – 480p vs 480i.
How to stream a 240p game and make it look good
On your streaming canvas, ensure the video capture feed is the same or similar resolution to the original, and in its aspect ratio. It should be a square-ish box within the canvas, don’t make it too big.
This is how that would look. You can of course stretch the blue box as much as you like to get it perfect and make the canvas smaller. My canvas choice is usually 720p.
Source – Retro RGB.
Of course, the easiest method is to stream using an emulator, removing all the technicalities of going through analogue signals into a TV/Monitor/Computer which only accepts digital signals. But, it is very possible.
Here’s how I played Streets of Rage 2 at 240p using the OSSC and Elgato HD60S+ on an original Mega Drive 2.
This means that the game footage your viewers are watching will actually be the native resolution as intended.
Related – List of gaming resolutions for streaming