Before someone comes whining to me about this, first, I’d like to add that yes, I know 1080i and 1080p are different, I know that framerates are different, and so on.
Now, if you do a search on the Internet about 720p versus 1080p, you’re going to lose your mind. I’ve just been through about four threads on the topic. I have neither the time nor the patience nor the flame-retardant underwear necessary to post to any of them.
It comes down to this: the uber-geeks are going to scream at you that 1080p is superior. Oh, my God, is it superior, what the hell are you doing even suggesting 720p could rival it?
Of course it’s superior. I’m not arguing that. I’m trying to boil this down simply for the average person who wants to 1) Watch HD television and 2) Play next-gen console games. As for the first scenario, watching HD television, 1080p simply doesn’t matter yet because barely anything is ever *shown* in 1080p. You’re usually just scaling up a 720p image. As for next-gen systems, you’re not going to notice the difference unless you’ve got a massive TV set, one much bigger than the standard 42-inchers that most people are buying right now. Does resolution make a difference? Yes, slightly, most especially in computer monitors. I have a native 1080 resolution monitor I’m using right now. There’s one downstairs that’s 768-native. This monitor looks better. But put a good looking game on either of them, and you can really barely notice the difference.
Do your own research. Go look at 1080p sets that you know are broadcasting in full 1080p next to 720p sets. You will see a difference, but not a large one at all, and only if you’re looking up close. Put it across a coffee table and watch it a little further back and you won’t be able t notice a damn thing. Again, there are too many other things that determine picture quality.
So go look. For God’s sake, do not go surfing around the Internet looking for an answer, because all you will get is a massive headache. For instance, Consumer Reports, which accepts no advertising, and is thus relatively free from being bribed, rates several 720p sets above 1080p sets. Now, if you bring this up in a discussion on the Internet, you’re going to have people sneer at you and make comments like, “Consumer Reports should stick to rating toasters, what do they know about tech?” Well, for one thing, the people they had reviewing the sets were all professional engineers. They weren’t idiots.
In ten years, 1080p may be making a big difference, and the standard TV set you might buy will be an affordable 73″ set. Go figure. But right now, 720p is virtually indistinguishable from 1080p. Therefore, go with the set that you think has the best picture, not with an inferior set merely because it’s 1080p. And in six years or so, when your plasma set wears out, maybe then go ahead, re-evaluate the whole market, and maybe pick up a 1080p. Of course, by that time, there will probably be a higher resolution that people are trying to sucker you into.
Just don’t listen to the geekspeak that pervades the Internet. Look at honest reviews of a particular set, look at that set in person, and choose based on that, not whether or not individual beads of sweat in NBA ’07 look slightly better on a 1080p set.