Is it true that 1080p is not dramatically better than 720p?

Discussion in 'Audio/Video & Home Theater' started by Ken90630, Nov 20, 2010.

  1. Ken90630

    Ken90630 Golden Member

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    I've heard from several different sources that the difference in image quality between 720p and 1080p is not all that dramatic. That seems odd to me since 1080p obviously has 360 more lines of resolution than 720p -- that seems like it would be pretty significant.

    I don't own an HDTV yet (obviously), but when I do get the money for one, I'm wondering if 720p would suffice for a 42"-46" plasma in a small bedroom. My typical viewing distance is ~ 10' or less, so would I notice much difference between 720p and 1080p? Is 1080p only more noticeable on larger TVs and/or farther distances, or is it the other way around?

    If it matters, the typical source material will be HDTV channels, up-scaled standard DVDs, and Blu-Ray discs.
     
  2. NutBucket

    NutBucket Lifer

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    Depends on your viewing distance and eyesight.

    From what you describe, 720 vs 1080 isn't going to be noticeable. Hell, I sit at 8.5' or so with a 65" screen. In this scenario, its very noticeable.
     
  3. Modelworks

    Modelworks Lifer

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    720P is fine for most people. It really does depend on viewing distance and source material. Realize that just because something is 1080P doesn't mean it will look good its just the resolution of the final product.

    For upscaled DVD it isn't going to matter. You have 720x480 to work with and no amount of processing is going to make it have more detail than that. TV channels it depends on what you watch. Most of the prime time stuff is 1080 but the other stuff is 720 or 480. For a bedroom I think 720P is fine.
     
  4. Eug

    Eug Lifer

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    1080p has its benefits, but colour fidelity and shadow detail for example are much more important.

    However, a lot of the 720p TVs are low end these days, since it seems the manufacturers tend to put more of the bells and whistles and tweaking into their (more expensive) 1080p models. That said, there are cheap no name brand 1080p TVs out there too, but many of them are not very good.
     
  5. Ken90630

    Ken90630 Golden Member

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    So you're saying the closer you sit, the more you notice the difference? Or are you saying the difference is more noticeable because of your large 65" TV?
     
  6. Ken90630

    Ken90630 Golden Member

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    Yeah, good point. I hadn't thought of it before, but standard DVDs wouldn't need to be upscaled if I get a 720p TV, right? (Since they're already 720.) They would only need to be de-interlaced, right?

    Quote: "Most of the prime time stuff is 1080 ...."

    Is it 1080p or 1080i? And if it's 1080i, can I simply go into the TV's menu and 'tell it' to display a 1080i picture rather than a de-interlaced 1080p picture? And would there be any point in even doing that, or would a 1080i picture de-interlaced to 1080p look better? (This question is assuming a 1080p-capable TV.)

    Sorry for the dumb questions. I'm still riding the learning curve here.
     
  7. Ken90630

    Ken90630 Golden Member

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    Yeah, I was wondering if I'd encounter that. I'd definitely do my homework reading reviews/test reports before getting a 720p TV (well, I'd do that anyway). Money's just real tight right now and I think I could save ~ $150 or so by going 720p instead of 1080p in the 42-46" realm. And yeah, I know to avoid the off brands.
     
  8. slashbinslashbash

    slashbinslashbash Golden Member

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    Both. It is the apparent size to your eye. A 3" screen takes up your whole field of view if it is held 1 inch from your eye. A 65" screen looks tiny if you are standing a quarter of a mile away. A 42" screen from 7' away looks roughly the same size as a 65" screen from 11' away. There is a chart that tells you where the distances start to matter, for what size of TV, based on the visual acuity of the average human eye:

    http://hd.engadget.com/2006/12/09/1080p-charted-viewing-distance-to-screen-size/

    Nope, a standard DVD is 480p. Most DVD players will output a progressive-scan signal.

    480p = 480 high by 854 wide. (409,920 pixels or 0.41 megapixels)
    720p = 720 high by 1280 wide. (921,600 pixels or 0.92 megapixels)
    1080p = 1080 high by 1920 wide. (2,073,600 pixels or 2.07 megapixels)

    (Note: DVD's are kind of weird, in that they usually store the actual video information in an anamorphic format. A 16:9 video with a vertical resolution of 480 pixels should come to 854 pixels wide; but on the DVD it is actually stored as 480x704, and then stretched to be 854 pixels wide. This is similar to how the original films would be recorded on 4:3 ratio film, but through a lens that shot a wider image but smushed it up and distorted it to fill up the 4:3 film; it would then be projected through a lens that would expand it back to a widescreen ratio. Remember, DVD was introduced when almost all TV's were 4:3 ratio, and DVD players had to take that into account and add black bars at the top and bottom of the screen -- although some early DVD's just added the black bars into the encoded video itself, thereby losing much of the resolution benefits of DVD. Also, there are numerous widescreen movie formats (3:2, 16:9, 1.85:1, and 2.39:1) which have to be taken into account as well.)

    Moving on.... most stuff that is broadcast (over the air, cable, satellite, etc.) is 1080i, max. I'm not sure if anybody really puts stuff in 1080p over the air, although somebody probably does it somewhere (I don't watch TV so I don't really know). But pretty much the only place where you'll get real 1080p sources are Blu-Rays, HD-DVD's, video game consoles and computers. In fact, even streaming services such as Netflix still are not streaming in 1080p yet, although supposedly they are going to start soon.

    AFAIK, there is no LCD/plasma/etc. that is natively interlaced. That ended with CRT televisions. So I don't think there's any way to prevent your TV from effectively de-interlacing a 1080i source into 1080p. Many LCD's are 120Hz or 240Hz nowadays (plasmas are 600Hz) so they will refresh the panel at that speed regardless of the speed of the source.

    My philosophy is to spend the least amount possible. I bought a 42" Insignia 720p plasma from Best Buy for $400 over the summer. Insignia is Best Buy's house brand, so they outsource the production of their stuff to other manufacturers. The TV that I bought is actually a Samsung under the skin -- nearly identical to a Samsung model that sells for $200 more (down to the buttons, menus, remote control, etc. -- the only difference is that it's missing a couple of inputs). Plus, the Insignia has a 2-year warranty while the Samsung only has a 1-year warranty. I was looking at spending $800-$1000 on a TV, but when this deal came up, it was just a no-brainer. My wife and I have been very happy with it, and we don't have the need for anything bigger right now. The bottom of the barrel can often get you the best bang for your buck. Why would I pay 50% more for 1080p, or a better brand name? Why would I pay nearly 75% more for 4 more inches of size (46")? I could understand needing to go bigger if you were constrained by your viewing space, but 42" is plenty big enough for the majority of living rooms, and probably 99% of bedrooms.
     
  9. Ken90630

    Ken90630 Golden Member

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    Sheesh ... I knew that. I don't know what I was thinking.

    Actually, maybe I do. I was reading something earlier today about MPEG-2 and how it's used for DVDs. And the article said MPEG-2 is 720X480. So that's where my momentary lapse of memory originated.

    So what's the deal with that? How can MPEG-2 be 720X480 and be the compression used for DVDs if they're 480X854 (or 704)? *braces self for further embarrassing education*

    Thanks a mil for all that info. That's a HUGE help to me.
     
  10. slashbinslashbash

    slashbinslashbash Golden Member

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    To elaborate a bit: the 704 pixels are basically "stretched" to be 854 pixels. In the old days, this was done with a lens to distort the picture and stretch it out. Nowadays it's just an algorithm much like any upscaling algorithm, except it's only upscaled in one direction.

    The plasma TV that we bought came from this thread:

    http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2103357

    It was in September, I guess I was a little wrong on my dates.

    ETA: Also, you should take "480p" with a grain of salt. There is not a well-defined standard like there is for the HDTV resolutions of 720p and 1080p. There are multiple resolutions that can reasonably be called 480p. Most people simply refer to standard def DVD's as being 480p regardless. Many 480p home theater projectors came with a native resolution of 480x854, but AFAIK they are the only displays to have that resolution.

    ETA2: Again, keep in mind that the standard HDTV resolutions (and televisions) are 16:9 ratio (about 1.78:1). Many movies come in 1.85 or 2.35 (Cinemascope) ratios, so to fit on the screen they will have black bars at the top and the bottom. You can't really call such a movie "1080p" or "720p" when it's in a fundamentally different aspect ratio.
     
    #10 slashbinslashbash, Nov 21, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2010
  11. Number1

    Number1 Diamond Member

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    I own a 42 in Plasma TV and Id be hard pressed to tell the difference between 1080i and 720P. I watch it from about 10 ft away.
     
  12. Modelworks

    Modelworks Lifer

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    720x480 is the max resolution for DVD, but there are a couple of sub-formats :
    704 × 480 pixels
    352 × 480 pixels

    There are also anamorphic widescreen where they took the frame and compressed it horizontally and players with the proper hardware will stretch it back to fit 16:9 screens without the black bars.
     
  13. 0roo0roo

    0roo0roo No Lifer

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    As said depends on the size/distance, 42" is very very small for 10 feet away.
    You wouldn't see 1080p thats for sure. for that distance sure 720p is fine.
    Twice the detail is twice the detail, some cheaper tv's deliver soft picture and other nonsense meaning delivered detail is not really what was sent into the set so it isn't so simple.

    cuz at that distance that is too small a tv. so it is like the olden days of crt, just a picture that is better than nothing. so yes, you wouldn't be able to see 1080p, barely 720p at that... actual optimal size for 10 foot distance is quite large actually.

    as for 480X854 dvd, you can't use the animorphic blowup as the actual resolution, that is upscaled, the actual resolution of the dvd image is lower.
     
    #13 0roo0roo, Nov 21, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2010
  14. Patranus

    Patranus Diamond Member

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    A lot of content is broadcast in 720p or produced in 720p and converted to 1080i for broadcast.
     
  15. s44

    s44 Diamond Member

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    You still need 50"

    Another thing to note is that sub-50" 720p sets are actually often less than 1280*720: this is the last refuge of the rectangular-pixel 1024-wide (or similar) plasma. This is changing though with newer sets, but watch out.
     
    #15 s44, Nov 21, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2010
  16. 3chordcharlie

    3chordcharlie Diamond Member

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    It's more of a 'be aware' than a 'watch out'. These TVs can look very good.
     
  17. Sadaiyappan

    Sadaiyappan Golden Member

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    My brother has a DSLR and an expensive lense. I have seen photos on that screen, and they are ridiculously sharp, and this is a small 4" screen (I think, not sure on the exact size). People always mention that you can't tell the diff between 1080p and 720p unless screen is over 42", but I can tell the difference on this screen. But I guess I am only a few inches away from the screen so that could be it..
     
  18. 3chordcharlie

    3chordcharlie Diamond Member

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    Scaled to a 4" screen, a 1MP photo, taken with a good lense and sensor, will look fantastic. 3.2MP is enough for a good 8x10 print, as long as you aren't examining it at extremely close range.

    Photos and video aren't 'the same' but in general, resolution gets too much emphasis when it comes to overall image quality. In a budget TV, I'll take a $500 42" plasma @ 1024x768 over a $500 42" LCD @1080p 120hz, mostly due to better black levels.
     
  19. Modelworks

    Modelworks Lifer

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    Cameras use 3.5" LCD and those are 320x240 or 480x320 not even full D1 DVD standard. The reason they don't make them higher is because it doesn't matter at those sizes and the more pixels require a much more powerful controller.
     
  20. 0roo0roo

    0roo0roo No Lifer

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    Mostly it is a matter of cost.
    The iphones screen is 3.5" 960 x 640
    cameras use less...save cost. eventually they'll get the high dpi screens on the high end as well.
     
  21. smitbret

    smitbret Diamond Member

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    At 8-10 feet, you will get a much better experience with a 50" 720p tv than you will with a 42" 1080p. Samsung has 3 50" 720p plasmas. They all have PQ that will be better than all but the best 1080p LCD/LED and plasma HDTVs. The 720p is a true 720p, not the stretched 1024. The PN50C490 is also 3D. So, if budget is an issue........
     
  22. Eug

    Eug Lifer

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    I bought a 1024x768 42" plasma. Detail is fine, and contrast is way better than higher priced LCD models. I'm still dialing in the colour calibration though. I haven't had the time go through Digital Video Essentials yet.

    The main thing I don't like about the plasma is the glossy screen. If any lights are on, there is a reflection.

    Note also that you can't just go by distance to determine screen size. My living room has a 42" screen at over 10' away. Why? Cuz I didn't want a ginormous screen in my living room. The 42" screen can fit inside a (large) armoire. When the doors to the armoire are closed, you'd never know there was a TV in the room.

    OTOH, I have a 720p projector in another room. It's actually a shorter viewing distance (9') but the image size is 90".
     
    #22 Eug, Nov 22, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2010
  23. NutBucket

    NutBucket Lifer

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    I think your projector setup would bug me. Call me an elitist if you must ;)
     
  24. Ken90630

    Ken90630 Golden Member

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    Interesting post, 'cuz that's exactly what I started thinking last night: Go a little bigger, to either 46" or 50", and go 720p. Thanks for the tip re the Samsungs -- I'll definitely check them out. Know the model #s of the non-stretched ones off hand?

    BTW, what's your take on 3D? I haven't had a chance to check it out yet, but I plan to before I buy an HDTV. It's prolly out of my price range, but doesn't hurt to look.
     
  25. BurnItDwn

    BurnItDwn Lifer

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    Differences are pretty subtle for smaller displays or longer viewing distances.

    If you are running like 100+ inches and sit 6 feet away, then you'll notice a big difference ... otherwise ... it'll be much more subtle.

    With a 40-50 inch screen and 10ish feet viewing distance, I don't think you'll be able to tell, but, if you sit 3-4 feet back, it should be fairly obvious...