General Question

Buttonstc's avatar

For LCD TV sets, how important is 1080p vs. 720p?

Asked by Buttonstc (27602points) November 26th, 2009 from iPhone

I do know that 1080p is better, but exactly how MUCH better.

Here’s the basics. I just realized that the Sharp Aquos 32” TV, which also has a connector enabling it to be used as a computer monitor, which Costco had on sale a while back is 720p. When purchasing, I was under the impression that it was the higher resolution since it had the dual function capability.

It hasn’t been opened yet so I can prob return it. However, none of the 1080p models which I have looked at have the pc connection on them.

Also most of the 1080s are waaay more expensive (unless it’s a little known brand).

With all the stuff going on sale both this weekend and around Christmas time or after, I really need to know exactly what I want so I can jump on it if I see something on sale.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that in my recent trip I saw a 37” size LG model on sale for just $100 more than the 32“Sharp, but minus a computer connection. It’s also a rather odd size as I’ve never seen that anywhere else.

I’m under the impression from reading Consumer Reports that LG is a reputable brand even tho not that familiar to me previously.

So, I would welcome any input from the collective. Should I just keep the Sharp even tho only 720p?

Should I spend the extra bucks for the larger LG with the 1080p even tho it doesn’t have the monitor connection.

Or should I return the Sharp and hope that I can find a 1080p with a computer connection which is what I would really want but may not be able to find. I have been looking at EVERY local store ad and checking sizes, resolution and prices avidly and it’s just not showing up.

It really is kind of a bird on the hand vs. Two in the bush kind of situation. I originally jumped at the Sharp cuz it was on a brief sale for $400 and I thought that was pretty phenomenal for a dual function screen.

Help me out here fellow Flutherers. What to do—what to do?

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16 Answers

FishGutsDale's avatar

well 1080 vs 720 refers to the horizontal lines being fit onto the screen. the more that are fit in the better the quality of the image you will see. I think it is important that you also take into account the hz (hertz) of the screen. Most of the lower priced tv’s are only 50hz which means that you could potentially see some stuttering when watching tv, if there are quick moving objects or wide panning shots. My opinion would be not to get the 720p. Take it back and get 1080p/i and try for 100hz. This will cost more $$$ but the results are worth it especially when you move into blu-ray movies and home theatre.

Personally, i would not bother looking for a dual screen for you computer monitor. Because you then start having to worry about tv size and whether your pc can handle it.

Also, the brand LG is perfectly suitable. It is well known here in Australia as a good brand.

ratboy's avatar

There is no point in going beyond 720p if you are going to use it as a 32” TV.

whitenoise's avatar

If your viewing distance is more than three times the diagonal width of the screen, you will not be able to notice the difference.

whitenoise's avatar

@ratboy… my avatar likes yours

stimoceiver's avatar

if you’re going to use this TV as a computer screen, you probably want a screen that has 1080 actual lines. this is called the panel resolution, or the actual resolution. these TV’s are called 1080p.

lots of TV’s say they are 1080 “compatible” but really the panel resolution is 1280×720 (or 1366×768). these TV’s are usually sold as 1080i or 1080 compatible, but really the most usable measure – especially for use with a computer – is the actual panel resolution, which in the case of these TV’s is 720p.

anything lower than 720p will not work well with a computer, if at all.

if you display windows XP on a 720p panel, the start menu occupies almost twice the height it would on a 1080p panel. all windows icons will look bigger, and you will have less usable screen area. on the other hand you would also be able to read text from farther away.

of course if you’re not going to use this TV with a computer, then you can probably take whitenoise’s advice below.

Buttonstc's avatar


Is there a particular reason for that statement? It seems to say that greater resolution is only helpful in computer screens. But I’ve seen 1080p predominantly in the larger TVs above 40” many of which would be too enormous to use as a computer monitor.


Welcome to Fluther and thank you for your detailed answer. Do you know if there is any requirement in labeling?

Any of the ones I looked at were not followed by either the letter “I” nor the word compatible.

If a TV is actually anything other than a full 1080 are they required to put the term compatible or the letter i prominently rather than on the accompanying paperwork on the inside of the box?

stratman37's avatar

If you ask my wife, she’ll say let’s just stay with the old CRT! I try to get her to see the difference when we walk thru Sears, but she doesn’t care about the greater clarity – much to my chagrin! As you might have guessed, we haven’t upgraded yet…

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

Most 720p LCD tvs are also 1080i. When true HD came out, it was 1080i(interlaced) and then got upgraded to 1080p(progressive).
Now, due to marketing and a consumer lack of knowlege, most companies advertise 1080p vs 720p, but since most 720p tvs are also 1080i, rather than further confusing the already confused consumer with 1080i vs 1080p, its easier to trick the consumer into thinking that the 1080p tv is far superior to the 720p tv, but in reality the 720p tv is really a 1080i tv, which, unles side by side to a 1080p tv, the average person could never tell the difference.

evil2's avatar

the only real differnce would be watching hi def channels and blu ray besides that you’ll never tell

battlemarz's avatar

If you will be using the TV as a computer monitor 720p will be annoying. At least it would be to me. Computer resolution of 1280×720 (720p) vs 1900×1080 (1080p) is a large difference, especially on a big screen. With 720p your computer desktop icons will be huge on the screen and probably not enjoyable.

As for solely television use, at that size 720p and 1080p cannot be distinguished by most people.

Buttonstc's avatar

Lurve to everybody for your input. I appreciate it greatly. As you can probably tell, I am the typical aforementioned confused consumer. But I think I’m getting a better grasp on the situation.

I just wonder why there are so few dual use monitors on the market. Is it really all that difficult or costly to include a pc connection?

My immediate use for the TV for me will be in my bedroom. But, in looking ahead, I will be upgrading my Macbook to get a Mac with the Intel core Duo chip and Snow Leopard.

Because (for whatever reason) Apple has decided to eliminate matte screens on the Macbooks and imacs, I’m going to have to go with a Mac Mini instead. I abhor those shiny screens for several reasons.

So, it makes much more economic sense to me to get a TV with dual capability so that I can eventually use it with my Mac.


I don’t think the larger icons would bother me, but I do want to explore that a little further. The main reason I say that is from past experience.

I’m going to assume that you have not reached the age where your eyesight starts to go. I’m 40+ so the higher computer resolutions make the print way too tiny for me.

You’ll probably shudder at the thought, but when I originally started using a pc even with a 19” monitor, I was fine with 600X800. I’m sure there are some reading this who are snickering at the thought, but just wait till age catches up with you :)

So, I’m leaning towards keeping the 720p Sharp with the dual capability unless someone has any other thoughts on why I may find that disappointing.

Is there any significant difference in the refresh rate between 1080 vs 720? That’s the only thing that comes to mind off the top of my head?

The consensus seems to be that it doesn’t make a noticeable difference for TV viewing is that accurate?

But I

It’s primarily the scarcity of dual purpose monitors that makes me reluctant to part with the Sharp but I’m curious as to whether there are other brands which commonly produce dual purpose monitors.

Is this just a manufacturers conspiracy to sell us more stuff (similar to planned obsolescence) or is something else going on. What’s the deal here?

WhatEvil's avatar

It depends really on what sort of things you’re going to be using it for when it’s hooked up to your computer, in this instance. TV screens are never as sharp as computer monitors, and generally not suited to reading text on for this reason. At HD resolution this is better, but still not ideal.

Refresh rate is separate to the resolution of the screen, and could be 60Hz on a 1080p and 100Hz on a different 720.

If your computer has a DVI output, you can get DVI to HDMI cables which will allow you to hook your computer into an HDTV anyway, which all HDTVs will have.

battlemarz's avatar

Based on your experience with 19” at 600×800 you should be able to tolerate 32” 720P at a decent distance. Doing the math shows that the 720P will have slightly more pixels per inch, but not much more and certainly much less than 1080P.

whitenoise's avatar

@battlemarz cannot follow you calculations… Care to elaborate on the math you did?

I figured that a screen of 600*800 at 19” would have a resolution of 53 ppi, while 1280*720 at 32” equals 46 ppi.

My math would be:
a) 600 / (19 / sqr[1 + (800 / 600)^2] ), for the 19 inch model.
b) 720 / (32 / sqr[1 + (1280 / 720)^2] ), for the 720p 32 inch model.
c) 1080 / (32 / sqr[1 + (1900 / 1080)^2] ), for the 1080p 32 inch model.

Right? ;)

battlemarz's avatar

@whitenoise Guess it is time to start double checking my math on Fluther :|

PretentiousArtist's avatar

I’d rather have dirt on my eyes than have lower resolution on my TV.
Go for the 1080

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