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1080i or 720p - Which looks better?

by dougnuts / November 11, 2006 11:47 PM PST

I'm still new to this high-def era and wondered if any of you know from personal experience which looks better. 1080i or 720p? Thanks in advance for your input!

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Depends on your equipment, Read Wikipedia, CNET Reviews
by Skeeteron_mypeter / November 12, 2006 2:25 AM PST

Your question is valid. I have been an HD owner for over a year and occasionally I find myself doing more reading on the subject as well. I would recommend that you read some Wikipedia information on HD and read some of the product reviews on CNET regarding this equipment.

First take a look at the specifications you are asking about:

P = Progressive Scan
I = Interlaced

720 = 720 lines of vertical display resolution
1080 = 1080 lines of vertical resolution

As to which looks better will really depend on your equipment. Most systems and hardware devices in the U.S. generally gear themselves toward 720p however most imported equipment have the capabilities for 1080i.

If you have varying types of devices transmitting different video output types, you will not be please with your screen.

Here is what you need to consider?

1. Do you want to have a LCD or Plasma Screen?
The type of screen is very important because the type and how you use your screen will determine what clarity you have. Check out CNET Product Reviews.

*The screen I own doubles as a giant computer monitor so I have much higher refresh rate than most big screens. My screen can reach higher than 72Hz w/ 800:1 contrast. This allows for a much wider range of picture and clarity. Both Plasma and LCD screens now have computer interfaces.

2. How large of screen do you want? Screen size has a lot to do with clarity and resolution because many screens have differences in viewable angle and area. If you are going to look at the screen in a giant room, 720p or 1080i will have some bearing on how far you are from the screen thereby determining the clarity of the viewable area you are looking at.

*If you are viewing the screen in a small mine, then the size of the screen and viewable angle is important.

3. Do you view your screen in brightly lit areas or dimly light areas? Why this is important is that the brightness of the screen can determine a lot when considering clarity.

*My screen has 500cd/m(2)

4. What kind of equipment are you connecting to the screen? Computer, Game Devices, legacy video tape players, DVD Player, Digital Cameras?
What equipment you connect to your screen will also determine the level of clarity. Check out CNET Reviews on these devices.

*All of my equipment including my computers (PC & MAC), DVD players, TIVO, ReplayTV, Cable Boxes and soon gaming systems send signals in Wide Aspect / Progressive Scan to my screen. This is done with a HDTV Upconverter that takes every inbound signal and converts it to 16:9 Wide Aspect @ 60Hz at 720p. You do not have to go to the extreme that I did but I was trying to illustrate a point. The equipment you use should have consistent video output settings. This will ensure that you will not have to make multiple adjustments for different devices. This means that you will have consistent image quality and resolution.

When you can answer the questions above, then you should have a good idea of what kind of screen to buy and whether 720p or 1080i is better for you.

Again, I would recommend that you read some Wikipedia information on HD and read some of the product reviews on CNET regarding these types of equipment.

I hope this was helpful for you.

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US devices geared towards 720p?
by Kev50027 / November 12, 2006 6:47 AM PST

I don't think that's right buddy. My family has had HDTVs for 5 years, and I've never heard of that before.

You are right though, it depends on your equipment. If it is a plasma or LCD, the display technology is progressive, so a 1080i signal will be turned into a progressive signal before being displayed, I believe.

Honestly, the best way to see is just to test it using both, and use your own eyes as the judge.

Good luck!

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Are you talking about source of display?
by navsimpson / November 12, 2006 8:29 AM PST

I have a TV capable of displaying basically 720p (it's a Sony that displays 1368x728, or something close). A 1080p signal looks noticeably better than a 720p one. If you mean the native resolution of the display... sorry, can't help Sad

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1080i vs 720p
by DeaDly-FiSh / November 12, 2006 5:22 PM PST

720p will look better for programs such as sports and 1080i will look better for drama. Gernerally speaking fast motion shows will look better with progressive see as it shows each frame as a whole, rather than interlaced which shows odd lines of a frame and then even lines really quickly. Seen as 1080p TVs are becomign the norm on the market you should be able to get a nice one ready for ps3 when it finally comes out. i have a panasonic 42px60 whixh can display 1080i and 720p but in the uk dont have those yet on freeview (pretty pricey to get HD material). Best bet is to go into the shops and see for yourself, ignore the gibberish like it has 10000 contrast ratio and any other stuff. Remember you can turn the contrast up in the shops, most of the times Sony screen look really good but thats cause its brightness is on max while every other screen only has 50%.

Head over to for more stuff

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Computing on an HDTV. Need Help.
by robstak / November 13, 2006 8:36 AM PST

Qasar mentioned this briefly, but what's the deal with using an HDTV as your computer monitor? You can do it right? but do you need a certain GFX board to handle the weird resolutions?

I wanna build an HTPC rig, but I'm worried about getting everything to work.

I tried to hook my craptop up to a 480p set I had at home using S-Video and it was all messed up, and then my comp crashed.

I guess, what's the deal with compatability? And is HDMI better than VGA?

Thanx buzzfolk!
-ktms Happy

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Both Look Spectacular Compared to Standard Definition
by mwrisner / November 13, 2006 8:48 AM PST

Okay, here's yet another confusing dimension to the topic. Any HDTV has what is called a native resolution. You'll see specs for 720p and 1080p all over the Sunday circulars. An HDTV will convert either signal to its native resolution. For instance, my TV has native resolution of 720p (actually the book says 788, but that's splitting hairs IMO). So if it gets a 1080i signal (like my CBS affiliate broadcasts), it will show a 720p picture. My dad has a 1080p television. If he tunes to a 720p signal, his TV will convert to 1080p.

Now a quick minute about digital signals. The NTSC standard has been around since the dawn of television. The FCC allows only 540i under that spec. Under the new ATSC standard, broadcasters can transmit 540i, 720p, and 1080i signals. Notice there is no 1080p spec under ATSC. About the only way a 1080p television can get a 1080p signal is from a next-generation game console with a component or HDMI connection. Television broadcasts will not include 1080p signals.

Here's a topic I had to spend a WHILE explaining to my dad: Just because you receive a digital signal doesn't necessarily mean that that signal is a high-definition feed. Currently, most markets only receive hi-def content during prime time hours. Only a few local news broadcasts are available in hi-def. Most daytime content and syndicated shows are in standard definition. An HDTV can only do so much to make these programs look okay.

All this really is videophile rhetoric. I've seen them both, and my eyes say they're the same (and I don't need prescription glasses ... yet).

Good luck with your decision.

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kind of surprising the answer's so complicated eh?
by punterjoe / November 13, 2006 9:23 PM PST

I've heard arguments on both sides, and it seems to come down to the question: what do you find more annoying, spatial artifacts or temporal artifacts? Because of the compression required for transmission, artifacts seem inevitable. From my own very unscientific survey of friends & coworkers with hi-def, 720P seems to hold a slim edge. It really comes down to learning to recognize the artifacts, spatial or temporal - and sadly, once you learn to notice them, they'll annoy you forever. :}

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Depends on the size of your TV
by Anna Beaulieu / November 13, 2006 11:54 PM PST

Funny, I just recently purchased a new 720p Sony 40" LCD and post purchase was a little worried that I should have bought a 1080p instead. After doing some research (thanks CNET) I decided that based on how much I spent ($1249 for the 40" Sony Bravia KDL-40S2000) I got one heck of a deal. The closest Sony Bravia in 1080p is $2249 a whole $1000.00 more. Based on the info in the link above (and elsewhere) you would be hard pressed to see a difference in 720p and 1080p on a TV of 46" and less.

Also, as I understand it the Sony PS3 will display GAMES in 1080p, however movies will only be displayed in 720p. Apparantly they want you to still spend the bucks on a separate Blue Ray player if you want the better signal. Can anyone confirm this?
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by Anna Beaulieu / November 13, 2006 11:56 PM PST

Oh yeah, as far as 1080i goes... it seems most of the new sets are all progressive. I couldn't find an interlaced set at Circuit City when I bought my TV. If you enjoy gaming and/or sports, I'd stick with Progressive.

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I have the 40" 1080p Bravia...
by robear2k7 / November 14, 2006 2:04 AM PST

and it looks fantastic. I don't know how much better it looks than the 720p, but it upconverts all signals to 1080 which is great for us since we sit only 6-8 feet away from the screen. I think viewing distnace is a big factor in telling the difference between the two resolutions.

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Nope - PS3 can display games and movies in 1080p
by navsimpson / November 14, 2006 2:57 AM PST

Even HD movie files from the hard drive. C'mon - for that much money, it's *got* to do something right... Grin

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let's not look att he numbers
by LiK / November 14, 2006 3:31 AM PST

aside from the specs, i read mixed reactions to these resolutions. it really depends on the medium and what you're watching and the source of the video, like movies to games. it's mad confusing to an average joe like me.

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