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at one time I was told that my Phoenix cable service delivered 720p and 1080i. a new 1080p television would make DVD movies look great but my cable service was "compressed" and would be wasted on a 1080p TV set. I am not concerned about "smart" tv's or watching Netflix on my tv. will my HD Contour 1 shows be 1080p?
There is no such thing as a "1080p television" so you couldn't waste it.
Televisions are either Standard, High or Ultra High definition. Standard is 480 vertical lines...High is over 480 lines...Ultra High is over 2000 lines.
You're shopping for a High Definition TV so it'll support any resolution between 480 and 1440 at the progressive and interlaced scanning systems. You can't pick-and-choose the HD format. However, when Digital TV first launched, you could buy a 720p-only TV but these are extremely rare nowadays especially with a screen over 32 inches.
If you buy an HDTV, it'll inherently support 1080p. If you want 1080p content, you'll need an external media player (HD DVD) or the Internet. No cable box will deliver 1080p content because no broadcast or cable station provides 1080p content.