1280×720 vs. 1920×1080: Comparison and Differences

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1280×720 Resolution at a Glance

1280×720 (1280×720) or HD Ready, along with the iPad's 1024×768 display, are the most common resolutions you will see on screens today. It’s important to note that this resolution does not indicate the actual height or width of the display. Rather, it refers to the number of pixels available. Your 1280×720 display may be 5 inches wide or 50 inches wide.

1280×720 displays provide an “HD ready” resolution for your screen. Generally speaking, this resolution is adequate for displays 32 inches and smaller. For larger displays (say 32 inches and above), you will want to upgrade to a 1920ä1080 (1920ä1080) display.

The reason you want a 1920ä1080 resolution is that it supports a resolution of “Full HDä and is considered to be a “High Definitionä (HD) resolution.

More pixels in your display means better clarity, a higher level of detail, and more desktop space. If you watch a lot of movies, play a lot of games, or do anything that really puts display quality to the test, it’s worth the extra expense to have the higher resolution.

Pros and Cons of 1280×720

One of the most common questions that people ask about is whether 1280×720 is better than 1920×1080. Here we will try to answer this question and compare 1280×720 vs. 1920×1080.

So what is the difference?

The main advantage of 1920×1080 is more horizontal pixels than 1280×720. With 1920×1080 you have almost twice the number of horizontal pixels as 1280×720. This may not be the case with TVs, but it is for computer monitors and the web. So if you plan to watch an HD video on your computer, or if you have a lot of text on a web page, it is better to choose 1920×1080 to get a better readability.

On the other hand, 1280×720 has an advantage over 1920×1080 when it comes to seeing how things fit on your screen. With 1280×720 you get a bigger image than 1920×1080 and as a consequence, it usually takes less scrolling up and down. Some people may find it harder to read, watch, or “fit in” a 1920×1080 screen.

So that’s 1280×720 vs. 1920×1080. In the end the choice is up to you and your personal needs.

Pros

Having a 1280×720 resolution comes with lots of advantages and it has fast become the standard resolution for HDTVs. The reason is simple: it can be split into two independent screens, making it perfect for a home multi-screen setup in which you can watch different programs simultaneously on the same TV screen. And best of all, you don’t need any special cables or splitters to make it happen. Most new TV sets come with this resolution, which is better than the 1080p resolution.

The biggest challenge with having a 1280×720 resolution is that text and images don’t look as crisp and can appear blurry. But when it comes to HDTVs, this is not an issue since the image is viewed from a distance.

Cons

Pixels, or the number of pixels in the dimensions of an image, are the heart of any image.

These digital letters put to width and height are what a website, digital editor, HDTV, or any other device uses to display images.

And because documents can be viewed anywhere, displaying a photo at its optimal size for different viewing screens is a key element to consider.

Having some background on the pixel is also important for video enthusiasts. After all, video is just a collection of images displayed at a quick succession to give a sense of movement. Although there are some distinct differences between photos and videos, using the same principles when it comes to dimensions and pixel is good practice.

While there is no standard rule when it comes to the appropriate pixel size for video and photos, there are some factors that will help you make the best decision for your images. This guide will also show you how to calculate the appropriate size for a given project based on some of the considerations to make.

Over the years, there has been a transition from SD videos (Standard Definition) to high definition (HD) ones. More recently, HD refers to HDTV and not a standard for videos.

This transition has not only led to changes in image quality, but in the technical and practical considerations as well.

1920×1080 Resolution at a Glance

An image created with a 1920×1080 resolution will have a total number of vertical and horizontal pixels of 1920 pixels by 1080 pixels. This means an area of 1920×2160 pixels. The name 1920×1080 is derived from the following nomenclature: the first number represents the width of the resolution; the second number represents the height of the resolution.

So how does 1920×1080 differ from 1280×720?

As the naming convention fails to indicate, 1920×1080 is actually the higher resolution of the two. By definition, a higher resolution means it supports more pixels. In this case, 1920×1080 would be able to display 1920 pixels on the horizontal axis and 1080 on the vertical axis for a total of 2,160 pixels. 1280×720, which means 1280 pixels on the horizontal axis and 720 pixels on the vertical axis, is considered lower resolution.

The higher resolution also means it would be able to display more details of an image than its lower resolution counterpart. This means you can view more data per pixel and fit more content on the screen. 1920×1080 screens are also capable of displaying 4K and 3D content.

Pros and Cons of 1920×1080

Full HD Resolution

Today, full HD resolution, which is 1080×1920, is the standard in most cameras, televisions, and computer monitors. Its popularity is due to the rapidly increasing amount of multimedia content. 1080×1920 resolution is a clear and sharp step up from the older 720×1280 resolution, and with backgrounds becoming more complex, it has become more of a necessity than an option in photography and video.

Their popularity is no coincidence because 1920×1080 offers several benefits to both consumers and producers of multimedia content. And although many multimedia producers shoot and release their content in 1080×1920, not all the screens that consumers use are 1920×1080 resolution. And that’s why it’s important to think about what you are going to use the video for and to make sure that the resolution is compatible with the output you want.

Pros

Having a 1280×720 resolution comes with lots of advantages and it has fast become the standard resolution for HDTVs. The reason is simple: it can be split into two independent screens, making it perfect for a home multi-screen setup in which you can watch different programs simultaneously on the same TV screen. And best of all, you don’t need any special cables or splitters to make it happen. Most new TV sets come with this resolution, which is better than the 1080p resolution.

The biggest challenge with having a 1280×720 resolution is that text and images don’t look as crisp and can appear blurry. But when it comes to HDTVs, this is not an issue since the image is viewed from a distance.

Cons

Pixels, or the number of pixels in the dimensions of an image, are the heart of any image.

These digital letters put to width and height are what a website, digital editor, HDTV, or any other device uses to display images.

And because documents can be viewed anywhere, displaying a photo at its optimal size for different viewing screens is a key element to consider.

Having some background on the pixel is also important for video enthusiasts. After all, video is just a collection of images displayed at a quick succession to give a sense of movement. Although there are some distinct differences between photos and videos, using the same principles when it comes to dimensions and pixel is good practice.

While there is no standard rule when it comes to the appropriate pixel size for video and photos, there are some factors that will help you make the best decision for your images. This guide will also show you how to calculate the appropriate size for a given project based on some of the considerations to make.

Over the years, there has been a transition from SD videos (Standard Definition) to high definition (HD) ones. More recently, HD refers to HDTV and not a standard for videos.

This transition has not only led to changes in image quality, but in the technical and practical considerations as well.

1280×720 vs. 1920×1080: Side by Side Comparison

Both 1280×720 and 1920×1080 are resolutions commonly used in HDTVs and monitors today, and they are both technically HD resolutions. 1280×720 is also sometimes referred to as Standard Definition or SD

1920×1080 is also sometimes referred to as Full HD or FHD.

1920×1080 is the wider, horizontal resolution (width x height) while 1280×720 is the narrower, vertical resolution.

1280×720 and 1920×1080 can also be expressed as a pixel count. 1280×720 is lower than 1920×1080 so it has fewer pixels (853,000 vs. 1,080,000).

However, pixel count does not indicate the quality of the resolution. Instead, the quality and perceived detail is determined by pixel size.

In this comparison, we’re going to look at pixel size, which is the distance between pixels (about 2 pixels per cm on a 1080p monitor) and resolution density (the pixel count per area).

1280×720 vs. 1920×1080: Picture Quality

The difference between 1280×720 and 1920×1080 resolution videos may not look like much, especially on a computer monitor. One is only 720 lines while the other is made up of 1080 lines or pixels. But there is a sizeable difference in the quality of the picture produced.

The quality of picture displayed on the TV screen depends on the number of pixels. The higher the number of pixels, the higher the display resolution. And display resolution determines the quality of the picture quality.

Simply put, your 1280×720 resolution videos produced on your smartphone ‡can’t be compared to your 1920×1080 resolution videos on your new HD TV. They are two entirely different things. Although 1080 has been considered the gold standard in the TV business, a growing number of people, including TV watchers and professional video makers, have begun to turn to 720p.

And it’s not surprising. As a user, you can get away with viewing 1280×720 resolution videos on your phone, laptop, and TV. Plus, videos on your phone look great because it’s physically impossible for them to look bad! So there’re some interesting insights here. If you’re a professional, you may want to read on.

1280×720 vs. 1920×1080: Content Creation

1280×720 resolution, also known as 720p, is suitable for the needs of content creation for high definition (HD)TV and internet video. That’s because there’s plenty of resolution to work with and this resolution is comfortably compatible with most modern broadcasting equipment.

1920×1080 resolution, also known as 1080p, offers an ample number of pixels to work with in print design as well as in video and film production. Full HD 1080p is used extensively for broadcast (television, film, radio, streaming video) and internet delivery (HD video downloads and streaming video).

1280×720 resolution, or 720p, matches with 720p HDTVs for full screen, high definition video in the home. It’s also used for computer monitors which are typically smaller screens.

1920×1080 resolution, equivalent to 1080p and FHD, matches with 1080p or FHD HDTVs for full screen, high definition video in the home. It can also be used for computer monitors which are typically larger screens than 720p PCs or laptops.

1280×720 vs. 1920×1080: Content Availability

Videos in the HDTV format (1280×720 and 1920×1080) are differing mainly by their width and height but not by their frame rate. Videos in these two formats are played at the same speed.

The differences between existing content formats are demonstrated by Apple. In 2010 they introduced all their iPad and iPhone video content in the newly developed 1080p format, but not in the wide standard.

While the most current videos are available in 1080, it will take some time before they are released in 1280×720, too. In fact, since more and more producers support 1920×1080, the logical follow-up would be to release videos in 1280×720. Still, this hasn’t been done, probably due to the fact that even the highest quality videos are far from the highest quality one can get.

What to Choose for Better Viewing Experience?

The two most common HDTV resolutions in the market are 1280×720 (720p) and 1920×1080 (1080p). 720p was the earliest and is, therefore, the cheapest, and 1080p is the latest and the most expensive. Which one is better? We all want to see a crisp, clear, and sharp picture but the reality falls short of it due to the current TV standards:

  • TVs aren’t able to display images with full detail because of the quality of the display in most of the TVs out there.
  • TVs need to be connected to media boxes or Blu-Ray players to access content and show images. Many TVs still only come with composite, component or HDMI connectivity.
  • Most people do not have the right cables, or connectors to use, to get cables to work.

So it's not about the screen resolution but your ability to display an image that's 1080p quality.

Conclusion

720p vs. 1080p

To make a long story short, even though 1080p is the most popular resolution for conventional TVs and computer monitors, 720p provides more detailed video (and of course, more pixels on a computer screen).

So, if you’re looking for a TV with a high resolution and a small price, 720p will best fit the bill. It may not look as sharp as 1080p, but it’s the best compromise between depth of the screen image and the price.

The bottom line is 720p vs. 1080p remains a great topic of discussion among multimedia experts and enthusiasts around the world. 1080p, with its larger number of pixels, offers a crisper image, but 720p saves you a lot of money (especially if you decide to get a larger high-resolution screen). Ultimately, the quality and level of detail you get will depend on the screen you choose.

1080p is better for viewing HD movies and TV programs, while 720p is the best option if you want to watch sports on your TV or if you want gaming graphics with more depth.

In the second part of the article we’re discussing whether there’s a point when the level of detail becomes so high that the differences between 720p and 1080p become unnoticeable.

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