Many people think only a resolution of 1080p respectively 1080i delivers HD quality. 720p is considered as not good enough. This applies to streaming video at 720p as well. It has to be FullHD. But these people are mistaken.

Distance to TV

What most people forget is the distance of the viewer to the TV or display.

At a certain distance the eye cannot see a difference between 720p (1280 x 720) and 1080p (1920 x 1080). Single pixels are not visible anymore.

Optimal Viewing Distance

People having normal eyesight won’t see single pixels on different sized TVs at…

  • 32″ at 1080p: 1,16 m (3.81 ft)
  • 32″ at 720p: 1,70 m (5.58 ft)
  • 42″ at 1080p: 1,63 m (5.35 ft)
  • 42″ at 720p: 2,27 m (7.45 ft)
  • 50″ at 1080p: 1,93 m (6.33 ft)
  • 50″ at 720p: 2,80 m (9.19 ft)
  • 55″ at 1080p: 2,10 m (6.89 ft)

But to achieve good image quality at 720p, the native resolution also has to be about 1280 x 720. 720p content on a 1080p display looks a little bit blurred. And on 4K display it would be even worse.

Whereas 1080p content on a 720p TV looks crisp.

Conclusion

If you want to save money, buy a TV having a native 720p resolution (HD-ready) and high quality image processing like Panasonic instead of an entry-level FullHD one. Even 1080p content using Bluray or HDTV looks sharp from your couch on one of those devices. More pixels doesn’t necessarily mean better picture.