720p vs 1080p

Tags: 1080p, 720p, Resolution

Is 1080p worth the extra money? Do I miss something if I buy a plasma TV that is just 720p? What are the differences between 720p vs 1080p and which one is better for me? I will answer these questions in this guide and more than just telling you what are the differences between 720p and 1080p I will actually show you so you see with your own eyes. This is a guide where the expression “an image is worth a thousand words” applies perfectly.

A Visual Comparison of 720p vs 1080p

Nice stuff first! The following images are screenshots from the 1080p version of The Matrix. The images have been manipulated on computer in order to closely depict the differences of 720p vs 1080p. The 1080p part of the image is a 100% crop from the original, while the 720p part is made by resizing the 1080p frame to 720p, cropping the region and then resizing to have the same size as the first image. Note that depending on the particular HDTV model used, you may experience slightly better or worse quality. This is because each HDTV model has its specific image processing system that offers slightly different results.

The first image set is to be viewed from where you normally sit when you use your computer (2 to 3 feet away). It was made to look optimally for 1080p crop at this distance. You will notice that certain areas of the 720p parts don’t look as good as the 1080p versions. But, if you make a step behind you will see they both look the same and you can’t make the difference anymore.

720p vs 1080p closeup
720p vs 1080p text and detail
720p vs 1080p distant objects
720p vs 1080p fine detail

1080p Offers More Detail

A 720p frame has roughly about 1 million pixels. Compared to it, a 1080p frame has 2 million pixels. As you see, the amount of detail doubles. However in practice the difference between 1080p vs 720p is not as obvious as the one between standard definition vs high definition (480p vs 720p). For example a regular DVD isn’t even considered high definition because it is either 720×480 (NTSC) or 720×576 (PAL) but it looks much better than regular NTSC or PAL TV broadcasts and not as great as 720p. That being said, you do get more detail from 1080p than from any resolution if you have the “winning” formula for screen size, resolution and viewing distance – that is if you have the optimum conditions to get the most out of 1080p.

Screen Size, Resolution and Viewing Distance

This trio is the base for obtaining the best picture quality and amount of detail from your HDTV. There is a relation between the three and if you get them right you will get the best picture quality no matter if you choose 720p vs 1080p or you decide to go for the extra detail offered by 1080p. Unless you have the correct numbers for these three sizes, you can end up seeing the same detail from 1080p as you would from 720p. Worse than that, you might even get a poor experience from 720p and a very bad one from standard definition (SD) content like many TV programs.

Basically, you want to buy a HDTV that offers you the best picture quality and amount of detail for the specific distance you will be sitting away. The viewing distance is actually a constant because you will always sit at the same distance (unless, of course, you move your chair or coach closer). The screen size and resolution depend on your budget. The larger the screen and resolution is, the higher the price will be.

In order to get the extra detail from 1080p, the screen size must be big enough and the distance short enough for your eyes to actually see the extra detail. Basically, unless you have a very short distance between you and the TV, you will need a larger screen with 1080p than with 720p. That means in order to actually benefit from 1080p you pay not just for the extra resolution but also for the extra screen size.

720p vs 1080p Content

The only pure 1080p content comes from high definition DVDs like Blue Ray and HD DVD. Regular DVDs are way below that, hawing just 480p or 576p. You also get HD content from TV broadcasts but for now only 1080i and 720p. Basically 1080i offers pretty much the same amount of detail as 1080p but the quality of fast moving scenes is a bit inferior to 1080p. To understand this better read the 1080p vs 1080i guide. 720p content will of course look the same (or very similar) on a 1080p screen as it does on a 720p screen because what also matters is the content resolution not just the screen resolution.

Enhanced definition (EDTV) like DVDs and standard definition content (regular TV channels) will also look the same on 720p vs 1080p. You must keep in mind that if you intend to watch a lot of standard definition (SD) content, doing so on 1080p HDTV that sits at the optimal distance for 1080p content will make the SD content absolutely ugly. In this case the TV will act like a magnifying glass, enhancing the imperfections specific to SD content. If you intend to watch a lot of ED or SD content you might want to consider buying a TV that will not give you the full advantage of 1080p but will look acceptable with SD and ED content.

1080p Is the Best You Can Get

If you do get the right size of TV for your viewing distance and you watch true 1080p content, 1080p is unmatched and will look amazing. It will look much better than 720p seen from 720p’s optimal distance and you will see detail like never before on a TV. Add to that the great quality of the colors and contrast offered by the top plasma TVs and you have the best visual experience you can get. Fail to get the right screen size for your viewing distance and you will only spend money for something you can’t benefit from.

What about 728p vs 1080p?

728p is an incorrect alias of 720p. Because native resolutions of HDTVs are not all the same, some panels having the vertical resolution of 720 pixels while others (most) have 728 pixels, manufacturers prefer to advertise the content resolution that matches the screen native resolution instead of the actual horizontal and vertical resolution of the screen itself. Some actually prefer to just label them as Full-HD or HD-Ready because it’s easier to remember by consumers. So basically because 728p means just 28 more pixels vertically, the discussion applies to it as well.

Resolution Guides:

  1. Plasma TV & HDTV Resolution
  2. 720p vs 1080p
  3. 1080p vs 1080i

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  • this is all very interesting stuff. I almost got a 1080p the other day but held off for a while. I have been thinking that i wont be buying any blue ray discs though i may rent them. Also i guess by still installing a blue ray player my older dvd’s should still be enchanced. So the question begs, i was only going to pay around the $2800 mark and looking at a 50” plasma. Would i be better off buying what was a very good type back 6 months ago in 720p which i may get around the $1700-1900 mark and still have money left over to buy a blue ray or a dvd recorder.Will i be really losing that much quality for the extra money it would cost. Are you able to recommend a 50” plasma of the 720 p with still a good picture. My viewing distance is , one lounge seat is about 2.7-2.8 metres and the main one is around the 3.8-3.9 metres. At this stage i am looking at a older [ 720p panasonic] model not sure what i can get. If i still decide on 1080p looking at either panasonic pz800 or samsung 650. Wondering what pioneer’s are around of the 720p in 50” that i may still pick up at a good price. any advise would be appreciated.
    cheers Joe

  • @Joe djakovac:
    You can see which are the best 720p plasma TVs on the homepage. The 50″ 720p one is last in the list (on the 50″ tab). I don’t think you can find 720p Pioneer models anymore. All manufacturers went 1080p (those Panasonic 720p models are not from this year). To find out if 1080p offers you a real advantage consult the table at the bottom of Plasma TV Size & Optimal Viewing Distance guide.

  • if any updation comes to plasma technology in future……
    and price list as well if decreases
    and who will remain the best seller of plasma tv as currently[panasonic] leads the race….

  • @NITIN: is that a question, because I don’t really understand it?

  • How should up converting for things like DVDs and Next Gen console gaming (Xbox 360/PS3 for which most games are still only native 720p) play a part? Does that help get a little more value from a 1080p TV? Or should the difference not really play a factor?

  • @Sorwen:
    If you sit close enough to the TV in order to see the extra detail offered by 1080p physical resolution of the display, upconverting devices will make 720p content look better. However, upconversion is just an image resizing process that resizes the picture to a higher resolution trying to decrease the artifacts inherent with this process. No matter how good the upconverting algorithm is, upconverted 720p will not look as good (crisp) as real 1080p. It does however offer a slight improvement. This is however useful only if you’re close enough (at the optimal distance for 1080p) where 720p content on 1080p screen would normally look softer. If you’re not close enough it is pretty much useless. Also upconverting is more useful when it comes to DVD content (which is lower than 720p and not HD), 720p looking good enough because all HDTVs upconvert anyway if they have higher physical resolution than the content they display.

  • i dont know

  • when is 1080p going to be broadcast…is it in the near future or a few years ? that is over cable or sate. thanks

  • @thomas: From what I know, not in the near future. The bandwidth required for 1080p is much higher than the bandwidth required for 1080i and the switch to 1080p means infrastructure changes.

  • Hi, i am considering getting either a 42 or 50 inch plasma and will be sitting approx. 8-10 feet away from the TV. I am wondering if it is worth the extra cost (30-40% of the 720p tv cost) to get a 1080p?

    They say the human eye cannot recognize the difference between 720p and 1080p if you are getting a plasma under 50 inches. Is this also the case when watching Blu Ray movies?

  • I will be using a Marantz DVHS player and HD movies (D-Theater tapes by JVC) shot in 1080i, will that look ok on a Pioneer Kuro Elite and its video processing?

  • I’m looking to buy a 42′ HDTV. I plan to sit 8 to 10 feet away. I wanna be able to watch blue ray and SD DVDs. So, what’s best for me 720p or 1980p? oh and I have a tight budget.

  • two question (1) Dish network currently broadcasts in 1080P. How will this broadcast ( in optimal broadcasts conditions) compare with my Samsung 42 inch plasma 1080i/720p currently set up in my family room with viewing distance ranging from 10-20 feet vs a new 42 inch set with 1080P? (2), My guess is a a larger screen with 50 inches at 1080P would be optimal for my room size so let’s add this point as a second question

  • @sam and everybody that asks “How X model with Y resolution performs at Z distance for W content”:
    Read “Plasma TV Size & Optimal Viewing Distance” guide. The worse the content resolution and quality, the smaller the TV size or it’s physical resolution can be, without you missing anything.
    Guys, please understand that I can’t choose A feature versus B feature for you. You know better what is more important for you. I’m giving you the facts, but it is YOU that must make a decision.

  • Recently I bought an LG 47″ LCD 1080p, the colors and brightness seemed very flat so I exchanged it for an LG 50″ plasma 720p. The colors and blacks are much better but the picture seems fuzzy compared to the LCD. Mainly, I watch non-HD tv and DVDs. I live in a country that will not have HDTV anytime soon. Viewing distance is 10 feet.

    Do I go back to the crisper LCD or keep the more colorful and brighter plasma? I’m torn between the two sets. 1080p plasmas are 3x the price so I’d rather not go down that road. I know you can’t make my mind up for me, but do you have any advice?


  • First of all, I’m not sure what exactly you mean by “fuzzy”. If you step further back is it still fuzzy? Maybe it seems fuzzy because the TV is too big for the type of content (SDTV) and viewing distance. Maybe the LCD had better video processing and noise reduction than your current plasma TV. If you don’t watch HDTV don’t buy 1080p because it’s just a waste of money for you. I would actually have to see them to tell you why it’s fuzzy. What I can tell you is that for 10 feet and SDTV, a 50 inch TV is rather big. I assume you’re actually distinguishing the pixels because you’re too close and a 42 inch TV would have been more appropriate. Also you should make sure it is not a problem caused by a lower quality signal, and that it is the TV itself that makes the picture look fuzzy. I hope my answer helps.

  • anthony Bracciante

    i’ve finally narrowed down to a 42 inch plasma instead of LCD. now the remaining question is 720p or 1080p at a distance of 6 to 10 feet? mostly we watch channels that offer an HD option, sports, discovery, etc, and we rarely rent movies, preferring to order them through on demand. the price difference is only $200, but that could pay for the tv stand to mount it on! in these conditions, is it worth the 1080? thanks, in advance, for the advice!

  • Hi Anthony, i have done hours upon hours of research on this subject. Basically it boils down to that 50″ or under the human eye is unable to tell the difference between 720p and 1080p so that $200 would be better spent elsewhere. Every salesman will tell you to get the 1080p cause they will make more money etc but it really isn’t worth it. If you are viewing at 10 ft a 42″ is probably too small for that distance (but great for 6 ft). I would suggest 46″ or 50″ at the most. Also Panasonic make the best Plasma’s out there (unless you have the big bucks for a Pioneer)

    One of the best websites out there is http://www.practical-home-theater-guide.com

  • @Anthony Bracciante: Make sure you read the TV Size and Viewing Distance guide where you have optimal distances for each screen size and type of content.

  • hi im buyin a new limeted edition “50 lg plasma t.v dual xd engine (scarlet) its 720p and 100hz ill be sitting roughly 8 ft away from it,but was just wondering if it would be worth canceling and spending an extra £300 for 1080p,also how do the 50hz and 100hz compare?, and would a 1080p-50hz be better than a 720p-100hz? ,and what does the dual xd engine enhance?sory to be a pain but could you please let me know thank you.

  • @jay: I don’t know much about LG plasma TVs other than the fact they don’t match the performances of the models listed on this site as “best plasma TVs”. At 8 feet (96 inch) as you can see from Plasma TV Size & Optimal Viewing Distance guide, you are in between 1080p and 720p recommended distance for that screen size. So depending how good your eyes are and what type of content you’re watching, 1080p may offer an advantage or not. Regarding 100Hz vs 50Hz (for US models is 120Hz vs 60Hz) it may offer an advantage or not. It depends how it is implemented. Again, reading an in-depth review of your model (or a model in the same series) is the only way to get a good answer. Specifications alone can be very misleading. Try reviews.cnet.com – they have most HDTVs reviewed.

  • thank you (“,).

  • Jay,

    Go with the 1080p, 8 ft. is too close. The pixels are just too big, I have a 50″ LG plasma and it’s 720 so I know from experience. There is a huge difference at 8′ regarless of what the charts may say.

    Bes of luck.

  • I’m in the process of buying a new TV – either 720p or 1080p Panasonic, Samsung- but don’t don’t relish the thought of paying a $1000+ for a good one, especially considering I don’t watch much television and the rapidity at which cutting edge technology becomes dull (eg, cell phones). I’m no technophile but I’ve done some basic research and know that 1080p offers the best picture. Obvious. That being said, a friend of mine says 1080p TVs are superfluous because no one broadcasts that signal/bandwidth/whatever – only 720p -so 1080p TVs are primarliy superior only when watching DVDs. Therefore, two questions: is my friend correct, and if I sit 8-9 feet away from a 40-42 inch TV would there be a perceptible difference between a 720 and 1080p TV?


  • @cris anderson: No one broadcasts in 1080p but it does in 1080i which looks better on a 1080p display as it is basically the same resolution and only the way the image is constructed differs (1080p is progressive while 1080i is interlaced). 1080p is not superior when watching DVDs. Regular DVDs are 480p (PAL) or 576p (NTSC) which is less than 720p. Blu Ray disks on the other hand, are 1080p so look better on a 1080p display (as long as you sit close enough to see the full detail).

    At 8-9 feet away from a 40-42 inch TV, you will NOT get the advantage of 1080p. For that distance and screen size, the optimal screen resolution is 720p. So, even if you watch Blu Ray movies on a 1080p 42 inch HDTV, from that distance you will not have an advantage over a 720p 42 inch TV.

    There is another aspect however. Best HDTV models are 1080p. That means if you want the best picture quality, you will have to choose a TV that also has 1080p native resolution. However, since you don’t want spending more than $1000, you are not interested in one of those top of the line TVs, and a good 720p model is better for you. For some reason, the best match for you – Panasonic TH-42PX80U, is very expensive (at least on Amazon). Unless you find it somewhere else at a much better price (under $1000) than Panasonic TH-46PZ80U, get the latter. It is larger (46 inch), 1080p and has a better picture than TH-42PX80U.

  • I am looking at getting a tv for my living room. I will be sitting 14 – 16 ft away from the TV. What size TV should I go with? Also, should I go with 1080p or 720p? In addition, I am placing the TV above my fireplace but it does have a large mantel to deflect the heat. I will rarely use the fireplace. Which is the best option for over the fireplace: plasma or LCD?


  • Kevin: Read the “Plasma TV Size & Optimal Viewing Distance” guide. There, you have a table with recommended sizes for various distances and content types/resolutions. You have to choose the size recommended for the type of content you are watching most of the time (SDTV/DVD, 720p, 1080i, Blu Ray / 1080p). You can’t have both low quality content and high quality content look great. One will look great and one will look poor or both will look average. If you are limited by your budget, the options are very few – you will probably have to settle for a smaller HDTV than the recommended size. Regarding the fireplace, there is no limitation as long as the heat doesn’t affect the TV (wall doesn’t get hot and no hot air flows over the TV) and the wall can hold its weight (plasma TVs are heavier). However, if the TV’s center is higher than the level your eyes are at, you can get a sore neck after a while. That is the main reason why a TV should not be placed over a fireplace.

  • Two Questions;
    I’ve got a Comcast HD cable box that is currently setup with (1080i) on a non-HDTV. Obviouly paying for something not needed. However when I switch to a Plasma would I see the difference in picture quality on a 1080p verse a 720p, or would it be the same? Also, it appears that the viewing distance from the potential tv will be 96 to 120 inches. Would a 50′ Plasma work even though I could probably go to 55. Will I get my money’s worth with 1080p in this case and if 1080i better with 1080p?thanks

  • @john: You will see a difference between 1080p vs 720p if you sit at the right distance or at least close enough so that the extra resolution of 1080p will make a difference over 720p. Naturally, you need to watch 1080i or 1080p content in order to see a difference. 50 or 55 inch – totally your choice. 55 is better for 1080p and 1080i while 50 is better for 720p, DVDs and SDTV. You can’t get the best of all types of content. About your money’s worth, as long as you watch 1080p and 1080i, you will find it a good investment (with both 50 and 55 inch). Low quality SDTV content will look horrible, however. As I said, you can’t get the best of all worlds. Since you’re going from a regular standard-definition TV to a HDTV you can be pretty sure that you will be amazed by the picture quality and amount of detail.

  • Got a confusing situation here. I’m torn between a 50 inch 2009 LG 720p Plasma w/ a 2,000,000 million dynamic contras ratio & 600hz zero motion blur + dual XD Engine vs. a 1080p lcd of close screen size. Probably a Toshiba Regza or something w/ a tight budget in mind. Also, the viewing distance will be about 11-12 ft or so. Will bluray look as good on the plasma I’m looking at or should I get the lcd? The specs on the plasma blow the lcds I’ve priced away even being a 720p television & that is what is confusing to me. Most of my hdtv usage will be for DVD, Xbox 360 & satellite tv in standard def. Bluray will be in the next 2 years for me but I want to know if the LG50PQ30 can stand up to similarly priced & sized lcds that do 1080p for the pic quality on these. Does the gigantic dynamic contrast on the LG & the xd engine & all the bells & whistles it has outshine these because it seems you must get a very expensive 1080p Lcd to even keep up w/ a good 720p Plasma. Help,guys…you seem to know what you’re talking about & give an honest reply from what I’ve read here.

  • Hi, thanks for creating a genuinely informative website, unfortunately the more I read the more confused I become. I am currently watching normal VM Cable on a Sony CRT 32″ TV but want to move to a wall mountable flat screen. I have asked questions in various shops but got conflicting information regarding screen size and resolution. My main concern is future proofing, I understand that 1080p is best for Blue Ray and SKY, VM HD broadcast but my main viewing will be SD with the odd DVD and I’ll probably subscribe to SKY HD in time, but I don’t want to buy a 1080HD TV and find it gives a poorer display than a 720 HD because of the supply signal quality. On the otherhand I don’ want top buy a 720HD TV and find that in a year or 2 cable is broadcast in 1080HD.
    Sitting 10′ from the TV I am looking at 46″ partly due to friends buying 42″ and exchanging for 46″ as they said size matters!

    Would I be better buying a 720 HD for normal cable viewing?

    Would it be outdated in 2 years?

    Does cable digital really look that bad on a 1080 hd tv or is it only obvious to the trained TV reviewer?

    Please help a confused buyer



  • Dish Network currently claims broadcasts in 1080P. This HD quality is, just, “OK” in comparison to the fantastic HD content I receive over the rabbit ears antenna attached to each of my HD TV’s. So my question is, if there is no real defined HD signal to quantify, can I effectively use the view and guide distance chart.? It seems like the chart possibly loses some objectivity as a definitive tool for establishing the benefit of 1080i to 1080p and size to distance guidelines.

    Also, I’m reading about the LCD with LED backlighting and 120Htzor 240Htz. Is it time to consider the LCD over the beautiful rich dark Plasma colors I currently prefer?
    Thanks, sam

  • @J.R.: From 11-12 feet, 720p is enough. In other words 1080p won’t give you any advantage if you sit that far away. Also, even if you buy a bigger TV, one that would offer an advantage with Blu Ray (1080p), it won’t look too good. As I have said in many other comment replies, you can’t get the best of both worlds (EDTV/SDTV and Blu Ray). In conclusion, the LG plasma is probably a better choice – if you can’t get full detail from 1080p anyway, at least have a good picture quality.

  • “but I don’t want to buy a 1080HD TV and find it gives a poorer display than a 720 HD because of the supply signal quality” – you nailed it! It is actually not the resolution alone that matters, but the resolution + screen size + viewing distance combination. You can’t have both SD and HD look great.

    “Would I be better buying a 720 HD for normal cable viewing?” – yes, because 1080p would be a waste of money. Garbage in, garbage out. The TV might be 1080p but it displays what it receives (poor quality).

    “Would it be outdated in 2 years?” – Nobody knows that. To broadcast 1080p over cable or air huge infrastructure changes are needed. That means it will probably take more than 2 years.

    “Does cable digital really look that bad on a 1080 hd tv or is it only obvious to the trained TV reviewer?” – “bad” is subjective. I mean to somebody might look absolutely horrible, while to others OK. What I can tell you is that if you’ve seen HD (even just 720p) you will never want to go back.

    The 32″ inch size you have now is perfect for 10 feet distance and SDTV or DVD. I think 46 inch is rather too large but as I said this is a subjective thing. You might not find it disturbing. Go in a store, feed the TV with a DVD or SDTV signal and see which size you prefer.

    My honest suggestion is to switch to Sky HD completely. Eventually buy a Blu Ray player if you want to be really impressed. If you do that buy a 50 inch TV. Even 55 inch if you get the blu ray player as well. I mean, you spend some money on a new TV, why not buy a great one. I don’t know how much you wanted to spend on the TV but you can get the 50inch Panasonic TC-P50G10 (2009 equivalent for TH-50PZ800U) for $1500 or Panasonic TC-P50S1 (2009 equivalent for TH-50PZ80U) for $1300. A blu ray player is 250-300$. Sky HD is pretty cheap and you get the box for free (I think). If it’s out of your budget, save for 2 months so you can afford it. It is worth the wait. Considering you get the most expensive route – you pay $1800. Divided by 24 months that’s $75/month for something great. And you’re very likely to keep it for more than 2 years.

    The other option is to stick to regular DVD and SDTV. For that you would buy a new TV just because it’s flat. You deny yourself all the advantages it has just because you stick to SD cable.

  • @Sam: Dish Network’s 1080p might actually not be 1080p. Not all HD programs they broadcast are 1080i or 1080p. Some (sports) are 720p. Others are actually SD. Also, I think they are compressing the signal and that could cause a slight drop in quality.

    Real 1080p is better than 1080i. Not the other way around. Only real 1080p is Blu Ray.

    Regarding the objectivity of the chart/table I think it is pretty objective. However, as with everything that involves seeing and one’s eyes, there is always room for subjectivity.

    Regarding 120Hz and LED LCD TVs:
    120Hz is a buzzword. Panasonic plasma TVs have what they call 600Hz Sub-Field Drive for example. Both are totally irrelevant specs. 120Hz is useful only if you want to watch 1080p/24 content (Blu Ray movies at cinematic refresh rate – 24 frames per second). 120Hz doesn’t improve image sharpness in real life scenarios. Some people actually hate it because it introduces image artifacts sometimes.

    LED backlit LCD TVs on the other hand are real winners. Both Sony and Samsung LED LCD TV models are better than non-LED models. As a matter of fact, they are the only models who can match the quality of top of the line plasma TV models. I don’t think however that the days of plasma TVs are over yet.

  • Thank you so much for the quick & helpful reply! Got another inquiry for you,guys. The human eye cannot recognize the difference between 720p and 1080p if you are getting an hdtv under 50 inches. I understand that it is is the 55 & up screens that truly benifit from this…correct? Is this also the case when watching Blu Ray movies on the 50 inch 720p LG plasma (LG50PQ30) I’ve decided on? One fear I have is if I go with a 720p model to save some $$$ it will be outdated within a 2-3 year span. Should I wait & save for the 1080p equivilant to the model I’m looking at to avoid this? The cost difference is substantial between the two models (720p LG50PQ30) or (1080p LG50PS60) . The 720p model can be had for around $900-1000 & the 1080p model for roughly $1500-1600. You were so helpful to me last time that I felt this would be the best place to ask & thank you in advance.

  • @J.R.: Is not really accurate as a rule. It is not about the size alone. Some give incorrect advice – as 1080p is useful only for screen sizes above 50inch – because they assume everybody has an average viewing distance. It might be the case for you or not. As I already said, from the distance you will be watching (11-12ft), 720p is enough. It doesn’t matter if you watch Blu Ray and the TV is 1080p. From that distance you won’t see the difference compared to 720p. Is the same question as “can I see a horse?”. If you sit close enough you do. If you’re in a plane at 15000 feet in the air you won’t. In conclusion, while the affirmation that “The human eye cannot recognize the difference between 720p and 1080p if you are getting an hdtv under 50 inches.” is incorrect at the core, it happens to apply (be correct) for your particular case (distance). From that distance (11-12ft) if you want to get the advantage of 1080p and blu ray, you will not only have to buy a 1080p TV but also a bigger one (65 inch) which will further increase the price. And don’t worry about 720p being outdated in 2 years. As long as you can’t afford a larger (65 inch) TV, it won’t matter because even if the TV is 1080p you won’t be able to notice the difference.

  • Thanks for clearing that up for me, man. You’ve been a major help to me in my HDTV decision & I’m grateful. Got two more to shoot at you, dudes. What is better 720p or 1080i for HD viewing clarity & quality? Next, I’ve been on Ebay looking at 1.3 class HDMI cables that are 1600p ready. This is what frightened me about 720p being outdated so fast in the first place. What do you guys know about the development of 1600p resolution & will it be some time before it hits the scene (4-5 yrs)? Thank you in advance, guys. Not kidding when I say this is the best HDTV advice site I’ve seen.

  • Hi. I have one more question for you before I make my purchase. I was in one of the local appliance stores by me the other day and luckily they had a 42inch 720p and 1080p Panasonic plasma next to each other for my easy comparison. (TC-P42X1 and TC-P42S1). I stood back 9 feet (which will be my viewing distance at home). What I think I noticed with the Cox Cable HD picture was that the 1080p seemed a bit brighter (?) but definitely I could see more detail in the blacks of the 1080p. So, my question to you is, would you agree that the 1080p version is brighter and has more detail in the blacks, or was it just a one time occurrence for me. Thank you again for your great columns.

  • @J.R.: “What is better 720p or 1080i for HD viewing clarity & quality?” – It is like comparing oranges to mandarins. Both are so alike but also different. First of all when comparing 720p vs 1080i, you are comparing content resolutions not native display resolutions. All flat-panel displays are progressive (p) in nature, but the content being broadcasted can be either progressive (p) or interlaced (i). The short answer is 720p has less pixels (detail) but looks better/sharper in the case of fast action scenes (sports, action movies, etc.), 1080i has more pixels (detail) but can look blurry in the case of fast action scenes. Why do you care about 1600p? It is advertised with HDMI cables so they can charge more for the cables. I don’t know, and probably nobody can give you a good estimation about when 1600p will be a common standard. Maybe it will never be. Maybe we will jump directly to 3200p. Who knows!? The thing is, 1600p makes sense only in the case of very large computer monitors where you sit very close. To get the most of an 1600p TV, it would have to be HUGE in size or sit very close to it. What i can tell you is that today there is absolutely no channel broadcasted in 1080p. Just 720p or 1080i. The infrastructure changes required for 1080p broadcast is significant as 1080p requires twice as much bandwidth compared to 1080i. I hope that answers your questions.

  • @CraigB: Brightness has nothing to do with resolution. If you like the picture of the TC-P42S1 it is pretty normal but has nothing to do with the resolution. You see, though 720p might be enough for you, if you want best quality you will only find it in the mid-end or high-end models which are 1080p. Not because they are 1080p but because they are just better from other reasons. The TC-P42S1 simply has a better panel (i think it is the new NeoPDP for 2009) not just because of the higher resolution but from the quality perspective as well. So, I do agree with the possibility that the 1080p was brighter than the 720p, but not because it was 1080p vs 720p but because it was TC-P42S1 vs TC-P42X1.

  • Thank you again for all of your help, dudes! I hope your site stays around for a very long time & long live Plasma Technology.

  • Thank you for this very informative guide. I love being able to research somehting on the fly without sifting through marketing hype and sales-pitches. I used this guideand, based on my tv use, chose the 720P for a significant discount. In specifics, I purchased the Samsung 50″ Plasma 720P with 2 million : 1 contrast ratio and I must say I LOVE IT!! I picked this one up at Best Buy for $899 (which was $400 cheaper than the 1080P version) and in my living room it is spectacular. My viewing distance is between 10 feet and 18 feet (2 different couches in my living room) and both are great. I can see a slight difference from the 10 ft range and the 18 ft range. From 10 ft, the pic is slightly (VERY SLIGHTLY) grainier than at 18 ft. Either way, it isn’t even close enough of a difference for me to warrant the 1080P. At 18 feet, this pic looks as smooth and fluid as it can be. And with the plasma’s 600Hz and HUGE contrast ratio, I’m sure this TV will be just fine. I can’t wait to play the Xbox 360 on it. Just got a copy of HAWX today!!

  • Hi ,
    Sorry but iam so new to the whole hdtv world. First i will tell you what my to-be-bought tv going to be used for. I live in the dorms in my school so the rooms are not that big . So my viewing distance will be less than 10 if not less than 8 feet. I mainly connect my laptop to my tv and watch my “legally” downloaded shows there. I also watch regular tv and play my xbox and ps3. you said the trio is what determines the best quality. well my distance lets say less than 10 feet just to be safe even though iam almost sure it will be less than 8 feet. the size iam looking for right now is either the 32 inch or the 37 inch. and iam kind of keen of owning the 37 in. what i would really appreciate is you helping me make up my mind. if i decide to get the 37 inch tv which would be a better choice according to my viewing distance a 720p or 1080 p. and if i get a 32 inch tv should i go for 720 or 1080p. even though i think iam getting the 37 inch. iam gona be in school for another 3 years and then move into my own apartment which should have the same viewing distance .
    also do you recommend refurbished tv or thats a no no .

  • @max: For 10 feet, the optimal screen size is 55″ for 720p, 60″-65″ for 1080i/p and 32″ for 480i/p (SDTV, DVD). For 8 feet, the optimal size is 42″ for 720p, 60-65″ for 1080i/p and 32″ or smaller for 480i/p. In conclusion a 32 or 37 inch TV is best viewed from 4-5 feet away if you are watching 1080i HDTV or Blu Ray movies, from 6-7 feet for 720p (most HD sports channels) and 11-13 feet for SDTV and regular DVDs.

    In conclusion it matters what you are planning to watch. A size will be better for SDTV while other size will be better for HDTV. There is no way to obtain the best amount of detail for all content types other than moving your chair closer or further away from the TV. The 37″ you are interested in would be good to get in between SDTV and 720p HDTV. 720p native resolution is enough, as 1080p advantage would not be visible in your case.

  • Question #1 – Primary Residence
    Viewing distance: 7′-8′
    What I use the TV for: Viewing cable television in both regualar and HD channels
    What I don’t use the TV for (much): DVDs, Blue Rays, games
    Television size: 46″

    720p or 1080p???

    Question #2 – Shore House

    Viewing distance: 7′-8′
    What I use the TV for: Viewing cable television (cable is NOT in HD)
    What I don’t use the TV for (much): DVDs, Blue Rays, games
    Television size: 42″

    720p or 1080p???

  • @Michael:
    #1: both 720p and 1080p work as you’re right in between them. go 1080p for better HD experience or 720p if you have a very tight budget.

    #2: since you have any HD content go with 720p. (I recommend Panasonic TC-P42X1)

    Keep in mind that if you want very high picture quality you will have to go with a 1080p plasma TV as they are better (not because they are 1080p but because there are no high-end/top-quality 720p models).

  • Hi,

    I’m deciding whether I should buy a 32″ 720p Samsung LCD HDTV or a 32″ 1080p Samsung LCD HDTV. I’m going to be using it most for gaming on my PS3, and for watching TV on my DirecTV cable box. I just want to know if spending the extra $120.00 is really worth it for the 1080p. I’ve already ordered the 720p and it comes on Thursday but I’m always able to return it. My viewing distance is either 8 or 9 feet.

    The TV is for my bedroom. I will have the TV on a TV stand 3 feet behind my bed.

    Should I just cancel the order and get the Samsung 32″ LCD HDTV 1080p (which also has 10,000 more of a contrast ratio that the 720p, the 720p has a contrast ratio of 50,000, and the 1080p has a contrast ratio of 60,000.)

    Any help is appreciated!


  • @Jawzeee: From 8-9 feet, optimal screen size is 42-46″ for 720p content and 60″+ for 1080p content. That means you will certainly not get any extra detail from 1080p. At the same time, I can’t tell anything regarding picture quality as I do not know what exact models you are considering. However, all 720p Samsung plasma TVs are entry-level and they are outperformed by most if not all 1080p models. You should not rely on specs numbers of contrast ratio as they are useless. Read in-depth reviews if you want to know how the TVs perform.

  • I am looking at getting a 50″ up to a 61′ flatscreen. Veiwing distances will be from 8 to 15 feet.
    My room does not have much natural light.
    I am confused about what to buy, 720vs1080 and plasma vs lcd.
    Any advise will be greatly appreciated.
    thanks, Keith

  • Thanks for the reply! I went along and got the 1080p, because I knew that was the TV I would be happy with in a few years. I got a REALLY good price on it from BestBuy, about like 70 dollars off I think, so I decided I should go for it. The TV is for my small room, and I don’t want to go over 40 inches. My friend has a 23 inch 1080p Samsung and he can see everything fine when he’s lying down on his bed about 9 or 10 feet away. Thank you so much for the reply, this site is VERY useful and I will recommend it to anybody who’s deciding which TV to get.

  • @Keith: Well, you have all the info you need on the site.
    720p vs 1080p
    – At 8 feet you can get the extra detail of 1080p/i content but not over 10 feet.
    – If you don’t watch 1080p/i content, 720p native resolution is enough.
    – There are no high-end 720p plasma TV models. That means if you want high quality you have to go with an 1080p TV.
    Plasma vs LCD TV (links to guide)
    – If you play games frequently or you plan to use the HDTV as a computer monitor, buy an LCD.
    – Otherwise, it depends on the models you are considering. You won’t find LCD TVs over 55 inch and Plasma TVs at 50 inch or larger cost less per inch compared to an LCD TV.
    – Don’t decide between plasma vs LCD but between X plasma TV model vs Y LCD TV model. That way you compare actual products and weight their pros and cons against what you need.

  • Hi , I’m going to buy a 42″ lcd full 1080p to use it as a pc monitor is that size is good as a pc monitor ?
    Which is the best brand ( order them to me descending ) : HP,LG,Sony.panasonic or Samsung ?
    My movies is 720p is that will make a problem when I play it on 1080p lcd ?
    Don’t care about my budget 😉
    I hope to find an answer to my questions and thanks in advance .

  • Hello All, I just got a Panasonic 42″ Plasma 720P I just watched blu-ray and it is amazing, however I tried to hook up my comcast and normal sd channels show up , however the HD Channels are not showing in HD, they previously worked with this cable box on my 1080P 32in anbd were amazing, but now with the tc-p42x1 it is not showing up it just goes to a black screen. I know the HDMI ports work because my PS3 works on all the ports. The cable box for comcast is a dvi to hdmi cable and has always worked previously. Any ideas

  • @Mando: Depends at what distance you’re siting. If you use a 42″ 1080p display as a monitor you will have to stay further from it than to a normal monitor. If you want to sit close to it, a 30″ computer monitor with 2560 x 1600 resolution is probably better. Depends what you do on your PC. If you want it primarily to watch movies and you sit at a greater distance (5-6 feet), get a 1080p HDTV. If you sit close (3 feet) and you need more workspace for programs, get a display that has higher PPI (pixel per inch) even if it is smaller. Also, if you are playing games, make sure you get a powerful video card to handle the resolution.

  • @Beasley: No, sorry. It’s probably a setting you got wrong. Play with the settings and if you don’t manage to figure it out, you can call Comcast and tell them their box isn’t working so they send somebody over 😉

  • plasma tv with contrast ratio 2000000 to 1 with 720p at 600hz vs a 1080p 50000 to 1 at 120hz which one is better

  • @Chris: Depends on your viewing distance and what specific models you are referring at. If from your viewing distance and for the type of content you are watching 1080p offers an advantage, then it is a good investment to buy an 1080p model. Regarding contrast ratio, it is the most useless specification for a HDTV. You can’t figure out from the contrast ratio number how good the picture will look. I won’t go into details here as I would have to explain a lot, so just take my word for it. What you should do is read in-depth reviews of those two specific models. Based on what you read about them, you will know which is better for you.

  • hey im looking at getting a new t.v. i know i want a 42 in cause it’s going in my bedroom ill be sitting about 10 foot from the t.v. also i play alot of xbox 360 and want a great game picture i will also buy a blu ray player to go with it, i have regular cable T.V. no satelite so the hd channels wouldnt matter to me what would u recommend getting for about $800 or $900 dollars

  • @j.t.hall: if you play xbox a lot, buy an LCD TV so you don’t risk getting burn-in. Plasma TVs work as well for gaming, but if you play a lot the chances of getting burn-in increase considerably. Regarding specific models, don’t be lazy and go research (read reviews). I don’t know what’s important for you which means YOU are the only one who can make this decision.

  • Thanks for all the helpful info, but I’m still a bit confused.

    There are two spots in my living room that we will usually sit for TV viewing. A chair about 5′ away, and the couch about 8′ away.

    We’d watch digital cable, both regular and HD channels. I’s also like to get a Blu Ray player, especially since I know a lot of Blu Ray releases have extra features nowadays.

    I’m not super-broke, but don’t want to spend extra bucks on something that doesn’t do me any good. I’m gathering that I might be okay with a 720p? And is 42″ too big?

    Thanks much for your help!

  • @Doug: 720p is OK indeed and cheaper. However if you’re looking for better than average quality, you can find it only in 1080p models because 720p ones are all entry-level/cheap and have lower quality. See Plasma TV Size & Optimal Viewing Distance guide to figure out what size you want to buy. You will have to make a compromise since you have two viewing distance (either just one to look great or both to look suboptimal).

  • Are people crazy? If you rent movies and more movies and have a blu-ray player, Yes get a 1080 p tv.My panasonic 720 p plasma knocks the socks off anything I have seen, because they don’t broadcast in 1080 p… I rest my case. Carl carlentini

  • What is a good recomendation for a 1080P 32 inch TV. I am really just looking for a good value, you know, Consumer grade Samsung, Panasonic,m LG? $400 to $600 range

  • 728 or 768?

  • Im on a budget this holiday season, and theres somethign i really cannot decide..

    I want a good LCD in order to play video games and watch blu-rays on in my room, so i would say im preety close to my tv..

    Now ive been looking at 2 LCDs that im thinking about getting that are identical in price (only a 5$ difference)

    Should i get a better/recommended company (Samsung 32in 720p)
    OR should i get the cheaper value LCD Tv? (Vizio 32in 1080p)

    So my main question is should i buy the non- big name LCD tv(Vizio) but have the nice 1080p? Or should i just get the known and recommended LCD tv(Samsung) although it wont have the best resolution out there?

  • @sam coffaro: Samsung LN32B650 (best but a bit over your budget). Panasonic TC-L32X1 and LG 32LH30 (within your budget). All are LCDs since there are no plasma TVs under 42 inch.

  • @John: You’re asking the wrong question. It doesn’t matter what brand the TV is but how good it is. Since you haven’t told me the exact models you are considering I can’t tell you which is better. Just read in-depth reviews of both models and see how they perform. You should always compare specific products not brand names.

  • Oh, I found a site that suggested that THX standards say “field of view” for immersive experience should be between 26 degrees and 36 degrees. This corresponds to a viewing distance of 1.5 to 2.2x the width of the screen… so about 8 feet away for a 50 inch screen would give you the experience the videographers expect you to have. . . etc. I was going to make up an excel spreadsheet showing ranges, angles, sizes for given viewing distances but too lazy.

  • Hi
    im looking at purchase a plasma or the led vizio , the salesman sugest i go with the plasma due to the screen protection, i have 2 small boys who like to play games near the tv, meaning the screen will get once in awhile
    i sit 10″ away, i was looking at one of the panny’s either athe tc-p50x1 720p or the tcp54s1 1080, i use the tv for sd and hd programs, we dont watch dvds on it, can you recommend one of those sets or another panny or samsung out there, or should i still think about the vizio led, i can control the light in the room
    thanks your a great help

  • hello,
    i am considering to buy a new tv…am not a technophile but i ran accross a Samsung PN50A400 50 inch Plasma HDTV is this a good tv and will it be able to pick up free local channels , i will be viewing it from about 12 ft..please advise..thanks

  • After all of the reading of questions and replys, it looks like I bought the wrong t.v.. I view from 10-11 feet away. I bought a Panasonic 42″ plasma 1080p. I just bought a Sony blu ray and was waiting to get blown away. It has not been true. I am not blown away like the sets I see at Best Buy. I have an HDMI cable too. I paid $6 for online. I have been thinking about professional calibration. It seems to me that I will not get that wow factor until I get a set over 50″. Am I understanding this correctly and should I avoid the professional calibrater and or Avio disc? Any thought would be appreciated.

  • All this is very interesting but im still a little confused i seen some that are 37 inch that is 1080p LCD and a 42 inch 720p plasma almost the same price $10 dollar difference. Made by the same company. I will be sitting around 10 to 11 feet from the T.V. Please email your opinions. The models I am considering is Insignia (Best Buy Brand) NS-L37Q-10A and the NS-P42Q10A. I know its hard to compare because one is plasma and the other LCD. But any information you can give me would be helpful. Thank you for your time. E-mail [email removed by admin].

  • Will I still be able to use my LCD 720p tv when everything is converted to 1080p? Or will I have to upgrade from this entry level tv? ( I don’t use cable or dish, just air.)

  • What is your take on tv’s with the THX Mode vs one without. I think I might by the pana 54″for $999 at Sears without the THX Mode. Can I get the tv calibrated by a profession to look as good or better than the THX Mode?

  • I’m thinking about getting my son a new tv for his room,he plays a lot of xbox and wants to hook his computer to it,but his room is small and he is only a few feet away from the tv.could i get a 32in with 720 and he still get good picture and crispness for games?

  • hey carl, i got a panasonic 32 inch 720p and it has a great picture, i kinda wish i would have got a vizio 1080p, do u think i made a good decision in going with the panasonic?

  • @Edgar: You might find this useful: http://www.royalhdtv.com/Theater/theater_calculator.xls

  • @Tony: I’m having a hard time understanding whether your kids play games on the TV and the danger is of burn-in or your kids play games near the TV and they might hit it accidentally. If they play games ON the TV, buy an LCD TV because plasma will end up with burn-in, otherwise buy a plasma. The TC-P54S1 is better not just because of the extra resolution but also because it has better picture quality. From 10 feet away however, 720p resolution is enough so if you have a tight budget maybe TC-P50X1 is better for you.

  • @hellen: PN50A400 is a low-end TV – cheap and with low quality compared to other models out there. If your budget allows it, I would recommend at least PN50B550 or Panasonic TC-P50S1. Any TV will work with over-the-air HDTV broadcasts as long as it can pick up the signal (use a good HDTV antenna). At 12 feet however, you should consider a larger screen – at least 58″ in diagonal. See homepage for a top with the best models grouped by size.

  • @Paul: Yes, you are correct. You are simply too far away. If you pull a chair and sit closer (6 feet) if will look best. Otherwise you have to buy the largest plasma TV (65 inch) or a DLP TV (which goes up to over 70″). Also, keep in mind that cheaper entry-level models don’t look as good as more expensive high-end ones.

  • @John Caywood: First of all, I don’t email answers (you’re asking too much). You can check the “Notify me of follow-up comments” if you want to know when somebody posts a comment/answer here. Also, unless you want a ton of spam in your email, don’t post it publicly on sites.

    Regarding the TVs, I know nothing about those models as they are not some of the best. As a matter of fact they are probably average at best. Also, they are too small for your viewing distance. You need a HDTV 52-65 inch in diagonal if you want to watch HDTV and actually see an improvement compared to SDTV. If you watch just SDTV and regular DVDs, the size is good however. Regarding why they have the same price though one is 720p and one is 1080p, there can be many reasons. From reasons that have to do solely to marketing techniques to practical reasons like the 720p model being actually better. I can’t recommend you one over the other since I never reviewed them and very likely none of them is optimal for you (because of the size). What I recommend is that you research a bit more and read in-depth expert reviews.

  • @Sandy: If it accepts 1080p input, you will be able to use it. Otherwise you will need a DTV converter box. However, by the time over the air HDTV broadcast will be upgraded to 1080p you will probably change the TV because of other reasons. This upgrade will not take place too soon because it involves massive infrastructure upgrades.

  • @Paul: I don’t know which exact model you’re referring to. I assume it is the Panasonic TC-P54S1. You can’t make it look better than the G10 or V10 models. A professional calibration specialist could make it look better than you can but don’t expect wonders.

  • @shirley: Buy an LCD not a plasma, otherwise he will end up with burn-in from all the gaming and computer usage (I know you said “LCD” but it is worth repeating). If he is siting close, 1080p is better – check Plasma TV Size & Optimal Viewing Distance to be sure. Also keep in mind that he needs a powerful video card on his PC to handle the 1080p resolution. If his PC doesn’t handle this resolution and you don’t want to pay for an upgrade to his PC, you could limit yourself to 720p then. However, for best quality a 1080p TV is best, and he also has to sit at the optimal viewing distance, or buy a TV size that is optimal for where he sits.

  • Hi I’m trying to decide between a Panasonic Plasma 720p 50inches and an Insignia LCD 1080p 46 inches. I will use the tv for HD sports, video games and movies (blu ray). They are about the same price but i’m not sure which one to go with. Please help!

  • @CJ: Since you haven’t told me the exact models I will have to assume the 720p plasma TV is a TC-P50X1 and pass on the Insignia which I am not familiar with. My educated guess is that the Panasonic has a better picture quality compared to Insignia (which is not known as a manufacturer of top LCDs). That being said, it is also important what you put more value on – picture quality (Panasonic) or amount of detail (1080p of Insignia) and if you sit at the optimal viewing distance for 1080p, Insignia could weigh more. The only thing I can tell you is that Panasonic probably has a better picture.

  • I understand the point you are trying to make when discussing distance from the TV, but if I did not know more about this stuff when I arrived here, I would undoubtedly be more confused AFTER reading this than BEFORE.


    “If you intend to watch a lot of ED or SD content you might want to consider buying a TV that will not give you the full advantage of 1080p but will look acceptable with SD and ED content.”

    Which would be WHAT? Why direct folks to TVs of a different type but fail to tell them about them?

    The author continually hems and haws between resolution names, but offers little to substantiate the differences. I found CNET’s explanation of the 1080 vs 720 MUCH more understandable and approachable than this poorly written analysis:


  • Prior to reading posts on this site, I was trying to decide between a 50″ LG plasma 50PQ30HDP (I was told the P stands for pro) versus a 46″ Toshiba LCD 46VR53OR from a company that sells primarily to commercial customers and high end residential (which we are not). Since we will be using it in our bed room (from 12-15′), and generally at night – always for TV or movies (we have an HD receiver from DISH), I can see that the best option is Plasma. I didn’t see the LG on your ‘best’ list. The owner of the business said LG has come a long way & he sells a lot of them to satisfied customers. The price is $1,000. Should we hold out & wait until we can purchase something on the ‘best plasma list’?

  • I recently got a Sony KDl-46V5100 with 1080p resolution. I am signed up with Comcast for HD. I have this gnawing problem, whenever I change channels which are being transmitted at different resolution levels. For example, if I shift from local channel streaming at 1080i to say ESPN (720p), part of the previous channel’s image band is stuck either on the far right side and it feels like a forced Picture in Picture. Many times, the channel information band at the bottom is stuck instead. The only way for me to reset to the original image is by switching off and on the TV all over again.

    I am not sure if this is a COMCAST issue or the TV issue. Have any of you experienced similar issues?

  • First my question? should I consider a 1080P LCD 50 inch or the Plasma that I still love? Also whats your new favorite 50 inch (+- ) for plasma and or LCD. wedo a little bit of everything with our TVS so My question is adressed and focused on picure quality.

    I just brought home a Samsung PN50B550 50” 1080p Plasma HDTV at a little over aq 100 dollars to replace my Samsung 720P/1080i 42 inch plasma model HPS4253X/XAA that I really like. I also have a 27 inch LCD 720P /1080i that has an amazing picture even withthe small size.

    My new problem is that while the colors and brightness are fantastic on teh new 50inch samsung 1080p picture withteh over the air antenna and through my DISH DVR, the picture defination is poor and watching a footbal game smears the action.

  • I currently have a Panasonic 42 Plasma 720 and I sit about 5-6 away. Would I benefit from 1080? I’m also thinking about getting a 50in this time around as well. Namely the Panasonic TC-P50S1 or TC-P50U1. Much difference between the two? Please help, thank you

  • Hello….im extremely rookie at this HD Technology (shame on me) but i will get better. Im about to buy my first HDTV.
    1. I cant decide between a 37” Panasonic in 720p or a 32” Samsung for 1080p
    2. The distance from the tv to me will be 4-5 ft
    3. Which brand? Panasonic or Samsung
    3. Please! HELP Im about to go for the 1080p samsung

    Any help is appreciated THANKS

  • hi bestplasma, i appreciate the help you give out here, it defnt helped me choose my tv, i bought an lg 42″ Lh30 and iam happy with it so far but i have a problem and to be honest i didnt know where else to turn to but here,
    here is my issue
    iam having a problem with the lg tv 42″ Lh30 , i only get this problem when iam watching normal tv on cable , but its fine when i use hdmi cable for my ps3 or vga for my pc. when the colors white is the most dominant in a channel the tv start making very loud noise, like a staticy noise, and it doesnt matter which channel it always does that when white is the most domiant color on the screen , i tried to play around with the picture setting and tried all mode , sport , vivid …. etc but nothing worked i even tried to change sound setting but still no luck . especially when iam watching soccer games and the camera zooms on a players shirt. iam starting to suspect the color blue as well but not sure, please help , its really iritating since i had this tv for only 3 months

  • @CJ: Panasonic Plasma 720p 50inches is the best.

    It will have far greater contrast because it is plasma, it will be far brighter, Panasonic generally is a better TV, and you can’t use 1080p unless you plan to sit 4 feet from the TV and watch blurays.

    In fact 1080p is only really good if you are going 100″ or more and even then its benefits are marginal for the vast majority of material available (DVDs, cable, satellite). Only bluray has a hope of making 1080p worthwhile, but not all of those use high quality source material with digital processing and so fall short of their intended quality.

    Note that Plasmas no longer have burn in problem and they are among the brightest and highest contrast TVs.

  • I have a 720p Plasma Tv and i don’ t see any difference from 8 feet away 50″ screen
    i have a blue ray player which shows in 1080p, so that’s really all i need is 1080p blue ray player.
    Until they come up with a blue ray cable box, 50″ & under you are waisting your money.

  • Thanks in advance for any advice. I currently view and SD TV from about 12 feet. I am purchasing an HDTV for a small 14×8 room that is dimly lit but can be adjusted to brightly lit. Viewing distance will be 10-11ft and it will be primarily used for movies DVD and Blue Ray on a Samsung BD-P1600 Blue Ray Player. Initially we willbe watching over the air HD using a indoor antenna but will be upgrading to Direct TV HD or Dish HD in very near future.

    I am leaning towards a 50 inch Plasma by Samsung or Panasonc. Should I opt for 720 or 1080P? Should I look at LCDs or furthermore maybe even a 60 inch Mits DLP in 1080P?

    Any thoughts or opinions would be greatly appreciated.

  • @Clifster: Thank you for the critiques. The fragment you quoted is part of a bigger paragraph, which makes the point that if you are watching ED and SD content primarily, you should buy a TV that looks good with that type of content, not with 1080p (which you are not watching).

    Which would be a TV of the right size for SDTV and EDTV. More specifically a 720p TV, since that resolution is enough.

    Anyway, if the guide and the comments here don’t make sense to somebody, Google is their friend.

  • @Janice: The “P” in LG 50PQ30 stands for Plasma. As opposed to the “L” in LG 47LH30 which stands for LCD. All LG plasma TV series contain the “PQ” (2008 models) or “PS” (2009 models). The PQ30 is an entry-level series, hence there is nothing “Pro” about it. You can find the Panasonic TC-P50G10 (read review) for about $1250 (see price) or Panasonic TC-P50S1 for under $1000 (see price) , or even Samsung PN50B550 for a bit over $1000 (see price). All of them are better than the 50PQ30 from LG, which by the way on amazon.com is $800 (with $200 cheaper than what that store is asking for it). Don’t believe everything salespeople tell you, usually they are just trying to sell their stuff.

    The top on this site contains models in all price ranges. LG doesn’t appear in the top because Panasonic and Samsung make better models in every price range and size. LG does a bit better in the LCD department where it has a very good TV (their highest end LH90 series – it is in the top on http://www.BestHDTVScreen.com).

    I already recommended better alternatives to the models you were considering. Another thing I can recommend is to consider a larger screen size if your budget allows it. A 58 inch TV or even larger will offer visibly better detail. If that is too expensive you might also look into 54 inch models. The 54″ Panasonic TC-P54S1 should be similar in price with Panasonic TC-P50G10 (around $1200).

    Good luck and I hope you will enjoy whatever you choose to buy.

  • @sam coffaro: Best plasma TV are on the homepage, best HDTVs (plasma + LCD) can be found here. I don’t think anybody other than you can answer that question. Regarding the “picture definition” and “smear”… I don’t know what to say. I find today’s TVs (even the LCD models) quite capable to handle fast moving content like a football game. Then again, I never had a sensibility to motion blur. Maybe you should go in a store and check out more models until you find one that you are happy with.

  • Viewing distance is 15′ max. I’m mostly watching Cox HD, and have a blu-ray DVD player. I am limited by the space of the cabinet that the TV is going in, which will accommodate a 50″ at the max. Is a 50″ TV too small?

  • @Steve: Yes you would benefit from the extra resolution. TC-P50U1 is a low-end model, TC-P50S1 is a mid end model. The TC-P50S1 is much better.

  • @Robert Samble: Yes, the 1080p model is better for your viewing distance. Also, I don’t know what specific models you are considering so I can’t give you an opinion about which of the models is best. What I can tell you is that all 720p HDTV models are entry-level. Both Panasonic and Samsung make great TVs but you should always compare specific models not the brands overall.

  • @mazin: A slight humming/buzz-like sound in plasma TVs is somewhat common, especially at high altitudes. However if you can hear it from more than a couple of feet away in a silent room, it might be a problem with the power supply or a circuit board. The fact that the problem appears only when watching TV channels but not content sent through HDMI comes to support this assumption. Best thing you can do is call the store or whoever has to cover the warranty, explain the problem and ask them to send in a technician to check it out.

  • Hello,

    I have a plasma 720 p resolution. Is there a way to make the picture crisp or more clear?

    Thank you

  • I’am about to purchase a 50′ plasma tv ( tcp50x1) we sit about 10 and 12 feet away is this the right choice if not can you direct me in the way to go

  • Hi,

    I have a 720p Panasonic. Will I get any benefit from watching blu-ray? I sit roughly from about 12 ft (around 3.8 meters if my calculations are correct…)?

  • What is the best kind of TV for a dorm room? I’m moving to college next year, and would like to have a medium size TV, 32″-42″ for gaming and watching movies.

  • I am torn between two 42″ models @ Best Buy. One is the Panasonic TC-P42U1, which is a 1080 plasma and the other is a Samsung PN42B450B1D, a 720 plasma. We will be using the tv in about a distance of 12 ft, and plan on getting a blue ray player. I like the reliability of the Panasonic but do not feel as though will be getting the full benefit of the 1080 vs. the 720 for the Samsung.

    Thanks for your help and glad that I found your website before buying one.

  • Plasmas are the best for gaming. The only LCD’s that come close are the high cost 240hzs LED models. Burn-in on Plasmas is not a real issue anymore. The biggest negatives of a Plasma would be the weight and heat that they put off. If you are worried about energy cost, you should probably not be buying a +500 dollar TV. (In most cases) 1080p on anything over 42 inches and 720 on anything under 42 inches. Size matters! Figure out the perfect size TV for your needs and then buy 1 size bigger. Need a 37, get a 40. Need a 46, get a 50. (So On) – I would spend $550 for a 42 plasma 720p and maybe $100 dollars more if I could get it with 1080p. March / April is a good time to get a TV. Look for places dumping last year’s models and overstock from holidays. New models start coming out in the summer.

  • HI, does the Panasonic TH – P42X10Z plasma television (New Zealand) have any anti -burn features?
    I can’t find any info on this in either the manual or their website. Regards, Stan

  • First I’m new, but to the price the one person was discussing at the beginning, I bought a 65″ LCD HDTV for $2800.00 in 2009 brand new, so I’m not sure what his price deal is about unless he’s buying from circuit city or best buy, EXPENSIVE!!!! Second, another member mentioned dish network HD, I have that also, ofcourse with a 65″ HDTV, and the picture is great. The wife liked it so much I didn’t even have to put up a fight to upgrade the bedroom TV. We went from a 27″ non- HD to a 42″ plasma HDTV! The 65″ is a mitsubishi… incase you were looking for a decent one, I realize it is probably not the BEST out there, but it is great for the money, NO COMPLAINTS!

  • Hi best plasma! Can you give your opinion on this 42″ plasma tv match-up? I ‘ll be 6′-7’ from the screen. They are similarly priced. I’ve read good and bad reviews for both, so I can’t decide.

    Samsung PN42B450 (720p) vs. Panasonic Viera TC-P42U1 (1080p)

  • @Brian: I have already answered questions like your on this page and on Plasma TV Size & Viewing Distance guide. Make sure you read the comments as well, and you will find answers to questions similar to yours. In a nutshell, you should buy a TV between 50 – 65 inch, depending on which content you want to look better (SD or HD). Regarding plasma vs. LCD, plasma generally has a better picture. Unless you will play video games a lot, get a plasma TV.

  • @Janis: Yes, it is small if you want to get the most of HDTV from 15 feet. Ideally you should buy a 65 inch (plasma) or larger TV (DLP TV).

  • @Shelia: Maybe, maybe not. If you’re watching SDTV/DVD, it will only look as good as the content you feed it does. Garbage in, garbage out. If you’re watching HDTV, all you can do it tweak the settings until you get the best possible picture. Other than that, there is nothing you can do.

  • @brian g: I don’t know if it is the right choice for YOU or not. Only you can answer that, based on how much money you can afford to spend, what type of content you will be watching (SD, HD) and what you expect from the TV. Read the guides and the reviews on this site, and you should be able to make an informed decision.

  • @Cody: Where should I know what is the best TV for YOU? You have on this site everything you need to figure it out. Just read the guides, the top on the homepage and the reviews and you will know what is best for you.

  • Ok I been reading the article and also a lot of the replies, so if this is a question I should know by now…my bad. But I just brought the panasonic tc-p50c2 viera 720p was it a better choice than the samsung pn50450bd 720p? Spec wise they appear the same but is a brand better? Secondly, my viewing distance is about 8 to 9 feet and I have a ps3 for my blu ray player. I know the 1080p is gonna be better but looking over all ur responses I’m thinking 50 inches at that distance shouldn’t be hardly a difference for blu ray right? Thirdly is the calibration dvd gonna make a big difference, and wut about the best buy calibration? Is 300 dollars to calibrate my tv gonna make it look that much better? Thanks in advance for ur time.

  • I have been debating about getting a 1080p or a 720p Samsung 50″ plasma TV. The 1080 P model is
    currently at 1169.00 and 719.00 for the 720p. I would be watching Movies, Sports , and regular Television
    is it worth paying the extra 400.00 for a 1080p? Or should i save the extra money for a Blue Ray. Do you
    also suggest holding off until Christmas or late in the year for the prices to drop ? Since these are where
    the specials are at ? Thanks Chris

  • I am looking at getting a 42 inch 720p Plasma. I have 6 feet of viewing distance. Will I notice much of the ‘low quality’ of 720p at this distance? Would 1080p look much better?

    I am quite happy with 720p and if I could increase my viewing distance by a foot or two I would. But I am stuck at that distance. I just don’t want to be sitting too close to too low a resolution.



  • Hi,
    If I am buying a 32″ tv, is there any reason to get a 1080p as opposed to a 720p? Also, if I purchase a 720p, will it be able to show 1080i resolution? Or do I need to purchase a 1080p so I can also see 1080i? (at 32″). I’m looking at brands like Vizio and LG.

  • Lots of information out there. Hopefully you don’t mind helping me out.

    My question is simple: do I need a 1080p or will a 720p still be nice? I haven’t had an HDTV before, but I’m going to use it mostly for video games and the occasional movie. Gaming is the priority, though. My issue with my current older tv is that game text and icons are very hard to make out on it (xbox 360 games). Would a 720p be enough to solve that issue? This issue has made me not even touch my 360 for many, many months.

    One of the TV’s I’m considering depending on your answer is this one:


  • hello , great responses here. i am looking to buy the LG 42PJ350.
    42 ‘ plasma 720p .
    viewing 5-10 feet away .
    want to know if 720p lg plasma is a good buy . should i consider 1080p . i do not watch blu ray disc . just my fios cable box . This is my first HD TV . would i notice a difference with a 1080p or is my 42 ‘ 720p fine for regular viewing ? thanks so much for the response !

  • Hi, I’m going to buy a LCD for gaming (I will be around 3-4 feet away from it), Blu-ray (3-4 ft and sometimes 8-10ft) and watching TV on Verizon FiOS (3-4ft and sometimes 8-10ft) What size should I get? I was thinking a 37 inch- 42 inch… also 1080p or 720p? What will look better for bluray(1080p or 720p)? 60hz or 120hz? The brand I’m thinking of buying is Vizio…

  • Hello I was wondering if you could help me with something. I am looking for a TV which will mainly be used for gaming on a 360. I would like to get a plasma but most of them at 42″ are only 720p not 1080p. I also dont have a newer 360 so I cant even output through HDMI, I will use component. I think that means I can only output through 1080i so im not sure if I should get an LCD or a Plasma. The LCDs in the sizes im looking at come with 1080p and most have 120 hz. Do you have any recommendations on what work best in my situation. I am mainly looking at Samsung and Im not sure if you recommended and other brands that might be superior.


  • I’m am buying a small TV 32″ for my lake Cabin. For my close viewing distance this is what is recommended. I’m looking at a relatively unknown manufacturer. Local retail giant has the 1080p and the 720p Model Viore.

    The 720p has a built in DVD player, not Blue Ray.

    I will primarily be using this for the time being just to watch DVD’s or Roku on. I already have a DVD player with a upconverter feature on it that I just purchased today when I went in to buy a TV and left overwhelmed. I got a good deal $20 bucks on the DVD player, however didn’t buy a HDMI cable yet.

    If the picture going to look worse on the 1080p than it would on the 720p or about the same just using
    Roku and regular DVD’s.

    THESE TV’S are exactly the same price. I could save $20 by returning the DVD player I bouth today and not have to buy the HD cable right now if I go with the 720p with built in DVD.

    I may take the playstation with Blue Ray built in up in 2 weeks when we move there for the summer?

    I have ready everything previously type above and this answer is not clear to me for this size TV. Viore LCD 32″
    1080p and 720p same price so no cost saving for one over the other. Will be used primarily for DVD’s

    Thanks again.

  • Your article misses a very crucial element: video bitrate. Video bitrate varies between recorded media (Blu-Rays, DVDs, etc) and broadcast transmissions. Typically, broadcast HD (720p or 1080p) will vary anywhere from 9 Mbits/s (DirecTV) to 19 Mbits/s (local HD OTA broadcasting). As HDTVs are basically large displays with smaller resolutions (compared to computer displays), there is a bit of image stretching. With image stretching, you want the higher bitrate videos as pixelation, artifacting, and other picture degredations are less noticeable as screen size grows (provided the set is using a high quality non-TN panel).

    Now given broadcast HD is in the range of 9 mbits/s to 19 mbits/s, Blu-Rays tend to offer higher bitrates and that ranges from a low of 11 mbits/s to 40+ mbits/s. So generally, Blu-Rays are “higher quality” than broadcast HD is. DVDs offer bitrates varying from 1.5 mbits/s to 3 mbits/s. Going further, most online SD videos (like those purchased through iTunes and Amazon) only offer bitrates from well below DVD standards up to around 1.5 mbit/s (not to mention smaller resolutions as well in some cases).

    Other important factors include the quality of the display, whether or not your TV is using TN panels or a better panel like S-IPS or P-IPS (better viewing angles, much more accurate color reproduction, costlier), LCD response rate (60hz, 75hz, 120hz, 240 hz — higher the better and smoother action and high-motion scenes will be), the size of the display, video source, connection type (analog vs. digital — ex: component vs. HDMI), etc.

  • To make a long story short, I just hooked up my new 1080p Proscan LCD 120hrz TV (which I have to replace because there is a dent on the side which makes a yellow glow) but besides the glow, the picture is good. The only other thing is when I put a HD station on, under the station number on the screen it says 720p on all the HD stations. Is there something on the TV I have to set up to get the stations in 1080p? Do I need to set up something on the cable/HD dvr box (I have Comcast)? Obviously this is my first flat screen TV so I’m very new to this. Any help would be great!

  • What is your opinion on 720p vs 1080p in light of the video compression we see in HDTV signals. I recently bought a 37″ 720p TV for my bedroom. I made the choice for 720p because of the TV size and the fact that it is in my bedroom. One nice thing I noticed is that I don’t see/notice the annoying compression artifacts that I see on my 40″ 1080p TV – even when looking from a few inches away.

    I’m thinking about getting a larger plasma and I’m again considering a 720p. To me 1080p seems overkill considering the compression we deal with (Blu-Ray excluded). (I have FiOS which beats my previous provider but I still notice the mosquito noise and blocking.)

  • I just purchased a Colby tftv1923 with broadcast format of 720p for my daughter’s dorm room. The rooms are cable ready. I got this at an excellent price and realize that it is of the cheap variety but for a dorm room with young college students running around, I thought it wise not to make a larger investment. For standard or HD cable should I be concern about the quality of this set with it’s 720p? Any other concerns or critique you may have I would appreciate hearing them. My TV’s at home are Panasonic and Samsung with 1080p formats running through HD Cable and I have no complaints at all with them.

  • hi, ok so i am confused, i am looking to buy a 50 inch lgplasma or a 46 samsung lcd,, the lg is lg50pj350 i think is a 720 and 600 hz ? i will be sat about 8ft away from it , or the other is a samsung 46 , le46c530,…. again sat 8 ft away,… i have cable and pretty much use the tv for films music or standard tv (i think) which tv would be best,…t hanks in advance

  • Guys, Im debating purchasing a Samsung Plasma TV for the living room. I am considering Samsung PN50C450 (720p) or Samsung PN50C550 (1080p). Difference in price is about $300.

    Obviously i’d like the 1080p but will i be able to tell the diff.? My viewing distance will be 9ft. 9 inches(118 inches exactly i believe) which happens to be the Most optimal distance for 720p TV. For this viewing distance, what will I lose out on if i purchase the 720p TV?

  • I’m probably asking a dumb question.. But how do you know if your Tv is a 720 or 1080? I have a 07 Vizio HDTV

  • what the fuck. you have a lot of typo. recheck your post.

  • If I never plan on getting HD cable, and plan on using an xbox 360, can I get away with a 50 inch plasma 720p?

  • Would I be able to get away with a 50 inch plasma with 720p if I never plan on having HD cable, I do plan on using an xbox 360 with it, but just regular dvd’s – not blueray?

  • It doesn’t matter. I have a 720p with a digital HD receiver and it looks exactly the same as my friends 1080p with the same crispness and clarity. There is not difference to the naked eye in 720 vs. 1080 when the SIGNAL is HD.
    If the signal is not HD then you can see the difference, but not otherwise. I still think picture tubes give the best look for a non-HD signal.. 🙂

  • I am thinking of getting a 46″ Panasonic 720p plasma. My crowing distance will be 8 ft. Will that still look good?

  • Hello. I am looking at getting a HDTV for the bedroom. The screen size will probably be a 32″. The viewing distance is at most 8 feet. Should I get a 720p or 1080p tv? Also, what about 60hz vs 120hz? Are certain brands better than others?


  • im thinking about buying a tv and am a little cloudy on the tv lingo… 1080p 720p, hz, plasma, lcd, led, 3d. im wanting to get the most bang for my buck. i heard that element tv were a very good bargain. any insight would be helpful, thanks in advance

  • The screenshot are not accurate !!!
    There is no sense to watch 720p video no a 1080p projector.

    The truth is that a 720p video is awesome on a 720p projector and of course
    a 1080p video is even better on a 1080p projector (and you can achieve bigger screen).

    But watching a 1080p video on a 720p device is ok, because the downscale is easy while watchinf a 720p video on a 1080p projector is worst… upscaling showing default just like the screenshot on this web page.

  • tcp50c2 is a 50 inch 720 p plasma from panasonic. It’s native display is 1024 X 768 (on the panny website, not a typo); last years model the c1 was 1368 X 768…..there is less information on scree now…should this tv be avoided?

  • I currently have a 42″ Pioneer plasma HDTV in the living room which we are going to move to the bedroom. We would like to buy a larger TV. What size TV should I buy in HD? The viewing distance is 132 inches. Should I get 720p or 1080p? We do not play games on this TV just rent Netflix and watch TV. Thanks for your help.

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