I run high quality videos (720p or 1080p) on my laptop and watch it on TV using an HDMI cable.
However, the picture on TV isn't as great as on my laptop's display.
The sharpness of the picture is very dull on TV. For example, when I run a high definition movie on the laptop's display, you can clearly see wrinkles and freckles and other details expected from an HD file. However, on TV, those same details are barely visible, unless you scrutinize from a very close distance. Even from up close, I can tell the picture's quality is very low compared to that of the laptop.
I observed the same on another TV with another laptop.
I know there's no problem with both of the TVs or the hdmi cables because I get a very satisfactory picture when I watch cable.
What can I do to reduce the loss of quality or at least improve the picture on TV?
Can the loss of quality be due to the lack of good graphic cards on the laptops? They both have integrated graphics card (intel hd 3000).
HDMI carries a digital signal, so it either works or does not, and there are no picture sharpness quality issues that can be attributed to the cable. Some TV's don't look as good a monitors due to the size and distance you are from the screen. I am assuming that the picture looks good when you use other digital HD sources, for example DVD/BluRay, Cable/Satellite set-top box, HD OTA, etc.
If that is the case then I suggest you check that the resolution/refresh rate matches that of your TV to avoid any image degradation caused by pixel scaling which may be implemented on either the TV or the display driver. I can't tell you exactly where to find these settings as they differ for Windows XP/Vista/7 and can also vary with the display driver.
Also make sure that no scaling options are turned on in the driver (you may have to set options like "keep aspect ratio" and/or "let my display handle scaling" etc). Your refresh rate should be set to 60 Hz.
You should also check if there is a scaling/cropping/zooming option on your TV. For example, my Sharp TV has a button/menu that lets me select Pixel for Pixel, Smart Stretch, Stretch, and Zoom. I always set it on Pixel for Pixel to avoid fuzzy images.
Also to keep it as simple as possible, first try outputting only to the TV and not having the screen cloned between laptop screen and TV. You may find you get good results driving a single display, but 1 display may not look as good if you drive both at the same time, as one of them may wind up running at their non-native resolution and scaling the picture.
I hope this helps. If you are running Windows 7 you can press the Windows key and P to quickly select which displays to output to. (P stands for projector).