720p vs 1080p

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Updated January 24, 2023

Since the days of cathode ray televisions, the metrics by which the best TVs are judged have rapidly evolved. Today, a TV’s resolution is often one of the most important specs when considering a new TV purchase. That’s why we’re comparing a 720 vs 1080 TV. And should you want to check out a comparison on higher resolution models, read this article that covers 8K vs 4K TVs.


  • 1080 TVs (also known as full HD TVs) are still a standard display resolution among consumers today and offer clearer images than 720p content.
  • 720p is still a completely acceptable option for casual viewing but probably not recommended for high-detail pictures.
  • Both screen size and viewing distance matter in perceiving a difference between the two resolutions.

Comparing a 720p TV vs a 1080p TV

You may wonder what the two different numbers even mean. Both 720p and 1080p indicate what’s known as a television’s native resolution. This term has to do with how many individual pixels make up the full display. We have articles that compare 4K Ultra HD vs 1080p TV and 4k vs UHD TV for more great content on TV resolutions.

Insider Tip

If you want to go with a higher resolution, getting a larger screen size is essential.

For example, a 720p resolution is 1280 pixels wide by 720 pixels high; technically, the 720 is the vertical resolution. This total comes out to just over 900,000 pixels. 720p TVs were referred to as HD TVs. A 1080p TV, also known as a full HD TV, is 1920 pixels wide by 1080 pixels high. This totals just over 2 million pixels. If you would like to learn more, you can read about the difference between HD and full HD TVs. Additionally, you can learn about how to make a computer fit a TV screen if you are planning on using a larger-screen TV as your monitor.

So, aside from a lot of pixels, what does this mean for the average viewing experience?

Picture Quality

The rule of thumb is that the higher the pixel density, the higher the image quality. However, many say there is hardly a noticeable difference between 720p and 1080p image quality, regardless of the pixel count.

Although it is definitively better on paper, pixel resolution is only worthwhile so long as you can see it, and many people cannot visually distinguish between the two common resolutions. Additionally, you may want to learn about how the way the pixel is lit can affect the picture quality with our article on 1080i vs 1080p.

Content Compatibility

Content compatibility was a big concern when full HD screen resolution first hit the shelves. Many companies weren’t producing video content compatible with a 1080p image resolution. But now, this is hardly a worry, and either version of display technology has plenty of content available. This is similar to what is happening currently with 4K and 8K resolutions. 


If you’re shopping on a budget, you can find affordable options for either resolution display. However, 720p displays win out in cost. They are the older style resolution and will be the cheapest option. If you want smart features as well, 720p models will usually be cheaper. 


For those looking for a larger TV display, it would probably be best not to go with 720p, as the image quality on large displays is far behind that of 4k televisions.


Is there a difference between 4K and UHD?

There is no difference between 4K and Ultra HD resolution when it comes to consumer markets. Somewhere along the line, these two terms got blurred and eventually became synonymous. There is, however, a difference between a 4K cinematic standard and a 4K consumer standard, but for the average buyer, this isn’t important.

Does screen size affect resolution?

Screen size is one of the most significant factors influencing a human’s perception of higher resolution video quality. A larger screen makes each pixel more visible, and higher resolutions will show more detailed images.

What does a TV’s aspect ratio mean?

The aspect ratio calculates how wide a screen is compared to how tall it is. For example, a screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio (also expressed as 1.77:1 in more technical specifications) is 1.77 times wider than it is tall.

STAT: 1080p resolution comes in both 16:9 and 4:3 aspect ratios. (source)

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