720p Vs 1080p HD TVs: When Full HD Is Worth It

by QuantumLouie

Learn about HD resolutions and how screen size and sitting distance affect your perception of the quality of the picture.

The main difference between HD televisions and conventional television sets is that they are able to recreate pictures at higher resolutions. In other words, they have more pixels at their disposal. These pixels if compared to those available on regular or should I say a standard definition set with the same dimensions are a lot smaller. The end result is a sharper and more realistic looking picture with less space between pixels.

Hype Or No Hype?

One of the problems of this market is that many consumers do not really understand when it is better to buy a product with a higher resolution and when it would be reasonable to buy one that is not a top of the line product in terms of resolutions and specs but would be a better bang for the buck.


According to statistics on many websites on high definition, many consumers cannot tell the difference between a picture created using a 720p and a 1080p resolution also known as “Full HD”. Hype often leads to compulsive shopping and this is one of the reasons why so many people end up spending on HDTV sets that have a higher resolutions even if they can't really see no improvement. The difference in money that a person could save by choosing a set with lower specs could be used to buy a Blu-Ray player or any other gadget to complement a newly purchased TV.


Picture Quality is Sometimes Relative

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How come many people do not see this difference while others do?

The answer to this question is a very simple one. It is very difficult to see improvements when changing from a 720p resolution to 1080p if the screen is small or medium sized. For example, when you change from 720p to 1080p most people won't see too much of a difference on a set that has a screen smaller than 36 inches. Some people don't even notice a change that is worth paying more even if the screen measures more than 43 inches but this is more of a personal choice.This is nothing new. The debate between people who can and cannot see a difference still lives after many years in some tech forums as well as if paying more for 1080p is worth the money or not.


The problem is that our eyes have their limits. On smaller screens, the pixels are small enough at 720p to be almost unnoticeable when isolated. If you set up your screen to display only one black pixel on a completely white background using a 32 inch screen it will a little difficult to spot the pixel at more than ten feet. If you do the same experiment using a larger HD television, say a 48 inch one where the pixels are larger, you can spot the black dot with relative ease. If switch the resolution to 1080p then the pixel becomes difficult to spot again.


Remember that the other important factor to consider is sitting distance. The farther from the TV a person is, the more likely the person won't see any improvement unless the unit is large enough. When a person sits close, the difference between resolutions is obvious even if the screen is small. Take where the unit will be placed relative to where you will be sitting into consideration before making a purchase. 


The Image on this page is  licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Image By: GraYoshi2xNoodle snacksFrisia Orientalis



Updated: 09/30/2012, QuantumLouie
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2uesday on 11/14/2012

I have to agree that you do need to base your choice on what you want and not be talked into something by a sales person. I tend to walk away from sales people who are 'pushy' and prefer to take advice from someone who knows what they are talking about. I am lucky in that I can also get unbiased advice from someone who is interested in the latest technology.

QuantumLouie on 11/14/2012

@2esday Great! As long as you are happy with your new set everything is fine. What worries me is that many consumers end up going over budget because a seller failed to inform them properly.

For example, a seller sells an expensive product to a customer and doesn't tell them that they need a Blu-ray player or any source of HD signals. The consumer goes home and notices that everything looks the same not knowing that they need HD sources such as HD channels or a Blu-ray player to notice any difference. This happens a lot because there are a lot of sells men that get commissions from sells they close. So they try to sell people the most expensive items without actually helping customers. I would explain customers the differences between 720p and 1080p, the importance of HD sources and give them valuable shopping advice that would save them money at the end of the day. Money they could use to buy other accessories for their new television set.

2uesday on 11/14/2012

When we were looking to buy a new TV we spent time reading up about them. In the end the decision was based on the room size plus the picture and sound quality. We were surprised how much they varied. The selecting process took longer than it should have done, but in the end we got a set we are happy with as it suits the room size and us.

QuantumLouie on 11/14/2012

@katiem2 Buying a new Tv is not what it used to be. I remember the days when you could just buy the first one that caught your attention and everything turned out perfect. Everything changed with the arrival of high definition. Now it can be as confusing as buying a new computer because they perform differently from model to model.

Some products have short lifespans while the picture quality on others bad enough. CRT televisions were fool proof for shoppers. Their lifespans are long and most of them offered the same picture quality. Just be careful if you choose a set with an LCD screen. Avoid strange brands that sell cheap products like the plague. If you go for a budget set stick to well known brands like Sony, Samsung, Panasonic even if their budget products are more expensive than budget sets from those brands that pop up out of nowhere. Thanks for Visiting K! =)

katiem2 on 11/14/2012

I've been thinking about getting a new tv, my sharp is 8 years old and out dated per the amazing advancements in technology. It's just so overwhelming to choose as the television selections are vast and salespeople biased and can be a bit pushy. Thanks for the heads up on HD TV's this is very helpful. :)K

QuantumLouie on 08/01/2012

Hi terry thanks for reading and commenting! It depends a lot on the person. ;)

terry on 07/17/2012

I have a 50 inch 1080p and my parents have a 47 inch 720p and I cant tell the difference between the 2 of them, my wife can tho.

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