Now you may have come across HD TV’s touting that they are ‘Full HD‘ and wonder what the difference is between these and those that simply say HDTV or HD Ready TV. So the question is: 720p vs 1080p – who comes out on top?
Full HD refers to a display that outputs at 1080p and ‘normal’ HD outputs at 720p. What does this mean to you? The short answer is that if you are planning on buying a HDTV less than 60 inches in size, nothing much apart from how much you want to spend on your TV.
The human eye, outside of certain viewing boundaries (about 4-5ft) cannot discernibly tell the difference between the two unless, as stated, you are sitting within 4ft away from your TV which is unlikely unless you are using it as a computer monitor. Most home set-ups have their TV 6 – 10ft away from their viewing position. The further you sit from you’re HD TV the less apparent any difference between 720p displays and 1080p displays become.
Much more important than whether your HD TV is 1080p or 720p is the colour accuracy, contrast, black levels and scaling / processing capability of the set.
The real benefit of opting for a Full HD 1080p display rather than a HD 720p display is to increase future-proofing and be prepared for the higher quality of digital signal which will no doubt be available in the near future. Most HD channels will output in 1080i meaning your display will have no downsizing or up sizing to do (which means no potential loss of image).
Scaling capability in a HD Ready Television is particularly important as most HD signals currently output at 1080i and 720p. A 1080p set will have no problem with either signal as they with up convert the 720p signal and de-interlace the 1080i signal with no loss of detail. A 720p set will have to scale every signal as the majority of 720p displays are really 768p.
This may cause artefacts (specks and the such) to appear on the screen as the 720p processor has to de-interlace the 1080i signals. As you can see by this statement, there is much more importance on the efficiency of the scaler rather than whether or not the HDTV is 720p or 1080p.
Bottom line – If you’re buying a screen under 60″, save that extra cash and get a 720p display + games / DVD’s/ other cool stuff rather than spend almost £500 more on a ‘Full HD’ display and not being able to tell where your extra £500 went.