Do you need a Full HD 1080p display?

This is a follow up to my previous article on HDTV. Full HD is a buzz word with sales of HDTV right now. So what is Full HD and do you really need it?

A Full HD display means that the display has a native resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and it can accept a progressive scan signal for this resolution(1080p).

Whether you really need a Full HD display when you are looking at buying a new HDTV depends on a few things. If you are a serious or hardcore videophile or money is no object to you and you simply want the best high resolution display, then of course you should get a Full HD display and you probably don’t need to read the rest of the article. But if you are the average person looking to buy a new HDTV, then perhaps you should read on.

In my previous article on HDTV I have talked about the different resolutions that can be considered as high definition. They can range from 1280×720(720p) to 1920×1080(1080p). Obviously, 1080p HDTV are in general more expensive than 720p HDTV, often quite a lot more expensive. The question is, can you really see the difference between 720p and 1080p and is the price premium really worth it?

There are many aspect to this question, but in my opinion, the most important thing to answer is that, will you see increase details with a higher resolution 1080p display compared to a 720p display? The answer to this question lies in how far you plan to sit in front of your new HDTV.

A lot of people are still not accustomed to the “large” sizes of present day flat panel LCD or plasma TV. Many people think that a 42″ plasma or LCD is a very big TV and a 50″ plasma or LCD is huge. Most people tend to sit rather far away from these “large” flat panel TV, often at least 8 to 12 feet away. However, at this distance, even if you have perfect 20/20 vision, the human eye simply cannot resolve the difference between a 720p and 1080p display.

For a 42″ display, you have to sit 5.5 feet or closer before you can see the difference in resolution between 720p and 1080p. Even with a 50″ display, you will have to sit 6.5 feet or closer before you will see any difference.

You may think 5.5 feet or 6.5 feet are far too close a distance to sit in front of a TV, but in this age of high definition TV, you really need to sit this close, or you will not be able to appreciate the full glory of high definition TV.

Of course your viewing distance could be affected by many factors including home decor and wife/husband acceptance factor. If you can sit at the recommended distances, then by all means, you should consider a Full HD display, provided you can afford the premium over a 720p display.

But if you cannot sit at the recommended viewing distances, next time you go into a audio-visual shop looking to buy a new HDTV and if the salesman is trying to push you into buying a Full HD display, then you can just tell him that you only want a 720p display and save yourself a lot of money at the same time. You will not be able to tell the difference if you are going to sit 8 to 12 feet or further away.

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13 thoughts on “Do you need a Full HD 1080p display?

  1. You’re the 1st person I found who actually says we can tell the difference between 1080p & 720p. Most people (I would guess 90%) said we can only tell the difference for 50″ & above. Some people say depends on the viewing distance but only you said if sit in recommended distance we will be able to tell the difference.

    I also hear people saying nobody would sit so close to the TV even if you are using it as a PC monitor because “No Body Sits So Close To A TV”. Just like what you said they are not used to proper distance of LCD TVs.

    But then again I never had the chance to see the glory of a 1080p TV with 1080p video source and a 720p TV with 720p video source of the same size.

  2. Let’s settle on a couple things. I went out and bought a Sony 42” Plasma set almost 5 years ago while their profit margin was still 5000%! (Fool!) But seriously folks… we are a country / world of fools. Madison Ave. and politicians know this so we continue to get roped in by the marketing BS.

    I’m sure there are some differences in 720p and 1080p if you possess some uncanny need to spot a fly on the wall at 1000 yards? I have noted with my Sony which has always been pretty warm and accurate, that with most normal cable channels broadcasting a digital signal, that the normal channels and HD channels do not look all that much different! But we live in a gadget driven society. Case in point… my recent visit to my local Verizon store. (Gadget heaven) The salesman showed me all the different features with all the new phones. OK… If I want a camera, I’ll buy a camera. If I want a full keyboard and internet with email, I’ll by a computer. If I want a GPS, I’ll buy one!
    I asked “Why is it that your engineers can’t spend a little bit of time improving the audio quality of these blasted phones? No comment!

    Back to the TVs… Do any of you believe that the difference in manufacturing costs between a 40inch display and a 46 inch display is enough to merit a $400 or $500 difference in cost to the consumer? If your answer is NO, you may be on to something! That being said… do not go ultra cheap. There is something to the old saying, you get what you pay for!

    • HI Kevin,

      Yes, most TV that claims to be HD Ready rather than Full HD probably has a panel that has native resolution around 720p rather than 1080p. If you know what, you can actually spot the difference between a 720p and 1080p panel, but in general, most people can’t actually see much difference between 720p and 1080p.

  3. I went to a big box store and thought the full 1080p was the best. I bought a Bravia 3 yrs ago for 1500 @32″, now full 1080HD is 625. Thanks for saving me some cash.

  4. thanx guys:)
    dis article really helped me in saving money…
    now i get to know how important it is to read these kind of articles before buying something expensive:)

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