The real deal with 1080p vs 720p

Working at an electronics store that sells TVs, I run in to this problem all the time: folks coming in who have been told by other salespeople that 1080p is the only way to go, and you are a loser if you buy a plasma.

I guess if you’re buying a LCD TV, this isn’t really a dilemma, considering most LCDs above 40″ are all 1080p (unless you buy an offbrand), but if you’re looking at a plasma, 720p TVs are still hot on the market.

Let me say some stuff about plasma:

There is a lot of wrong information out there. REALLY, the only differences now between a Plasma and LCD Tv is:

1. Plasma TVs don’t come in as many sizes at LCDs.

2. Some plasma TVs have screens that reflect a lot of light (however, a lot of LCDs also reflect light now. It just depends on the screen material).

3. Plasmas do still tend to weigh more and use more energy, although most (especially Panasonic) qualify for the Energystar rating.

BUT WAIT! What about Hz and panel life?

Well, most plasma panels operate at 480Hz, which wasn’t made public really until LCD started making a big deal about 120Hz. Also, the half-life of a plasma panel is generally 100,000 hrs, where as LCDs usually range 50,000-60,000 hrs.

P.S. most Plasmas are less expensive than LCDs too…

Alright, with that out of the way, why do you need 1080p?


1. If you have a PS3 or Xbox 360

2. If you subscribe to digital cable that is capable of upconverting to 1080i (maybe).

3. If you want to watch Blu Rays or if you use an upconverting DVD player.

That’s it! Normal TV is broadcast only in 720, a Nintendo Wii only does 480i (with the component cables it will go to “p”), and now Dish brags that their programs are broadcast in 1080i, but if you read further, it is 720p that is upconverted to 1080i signal.

Most folks don’t really need 1080p but don’t know it. Many people are under the impression that if they buy a 1080p TV, all of their programs will display that amazing picture that they see in the stores. I say “Nay!”

Please try to dispel the myths (cough BEST BUY cough), because knowledge is power and a lack of knowledge on your part loses sales. Especially when people find out they bought something that they don’t really need and then return it. Ugh.

With a lot of people itching to spend their tax returns and bypass the digital conversion nightmare, answering these questions before you go shopping saves a lot of time and money (on both the customer and salesperson’s part).

And just to open a quagmire, do you prefer Plasma or LCD? Why?

Trisha had a really epic biography, but made us take it down. Something to do with government conspiracies, Cthulu, and being the "Chosen One" or something. You can follow her on Twitter @TrishaDuerr.