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720p vs 1080p – What is the Meaning of These Terms in Simple Non-Technical English?

Updated on September 17, 2012

Differnce Between 720p and 1080p

1080p images are sharper than 720p
1080p images are sharper than 720p | Source

The HD Resolutions

You probably have heard the terms 720p,1080i and 1080p many times. The HD TVs are all sold by these resolutions. You know that 720p HDTV is a bit cheaper than a 1080p one. You may also notice that digital cameras also boast about 720p or 1080p video shooting capability. Even iPhone or other phones are also shooting the innocent customers with all those 720 or 1080 things.

Now, one of my friends wanted to buy an HDTV, his dream was to buy a 1080p set. But he has not money enough. So, he came to me ask if a 720p TV would be too lower quality than a 1080p one. The technical knowledge of my friend is not too sound. So, I decided to give him a lecture on this topic. ( I like to give lectures to people for free – because I have enough time to waste and fool about). After, making the difference between 720p and 1080p clear to him I decided to write a hub about it. Now I am going to give a lecture to the unfortunate souls who are now reading my hub.

720p – What is it?

720p means a “screen resolution” of 1280x720. What is “screen resolution”?

The LCD screen of your PC, Laptop, Mobile or HDTV are consists of millions of tiny dots or ‘pixels’. The image is produced by these dots. The screen resolution refers to the number of dots or pixels on a screen. A resolution of 1280x720 means the screen has 1280 horizontal dots in each row and 720 vertical dots in each row. That means the screen has 9,21,600 total pixels!

1080p

Now, you can understand what is 1080p. The screen of your 1080p HDTV has a resolution of 1920x1080. In simple English it means 1920 horizontal and 1080 vertical rows of dots or pixels. That means this screen has 2,0736,00 dots.

A Pixel or Dot

Pixels are tiny dots
Pixels are tiny dots | Source

720p VS 1080p

You have seen that a 1080p screen has more than double pixels than a 720p display. That means sharper picture with more details. So, how inferior a 720p TV is?

Not much. 720p is also a very good resolution. You cannot tell the difference between these two unless you place both screens side by side. If your TV is not too big then 720p should be fine for you unless you have a lot of money to spend.

Not only the screen size but also the viewing distance is also a factor. If you watch a 1080p screen from 5 feet and a 720p from 10 feet, both will appear same to you.

Screen Resolution Explained

A 720p Screen
A 720p Screen

720p and 1080p Video Recording

You are known about the cameras claiming about the capabilities of capturing movies in HD. If a camera captures video in 720p then it will take much less space than 1080p videos. Higher resolution means bigger video files.

I think you have understood the basic difference between these two popular HD resolution formats. Drop a comment if you have anything more to ask or to lecture others (including me) regarding this.

Video: 720 vs 1080

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      Nay 3 weeks ago

      Thanks, this was awesome and explained very well and simple for the less tech savvy people of the world. (inserts thumbs up sign)!!!

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      minto 4 years ago

      Thanks. You have explained in simple language