You may be wondering why you should get a projector capable of displaying videos at 720p rather than 1080p. You might be thinking that 720p is not as good as 1080p, but you may be surprised to know that 720p can be better than 1080p.
Depending on your budget and your needs, you have to look at some key factors to help you decide which projector to buy. Do you need to buy the more expensive 1080p projectors? If you go for 720p, will you notice the difference?
This article will try to understand the similarities, differences, and important factors to consider to help you choose between a 720p projector and a 1080p projector.
Here’s the ultimate comparison of 720p vs. 1080p projectors. Which is the better choice for you?
Table of Contents
Resolution: What is it?
You can think of resolution as the number of pixels on a projector screen. When the resolution is high, the projector has lots of pixels to work with. As a result, when you project a picture on the projector screen, the picture appears to be clearer and crisper. Therefore, a higher resolution is beneficial when viewing photos or web pages where the quality of the picture makes a difference.
Resolution is essential because more pixels result in higher levels of detail on an image. However, simply having a high pixel count alone doesn’t contribute to overall image quality. For example, while high-resolution images are great for printing, they can be problematic for viewing websites since they often don’t have the proper aspect ratio and can appear stretched.
A projector can display images of any size and resolution—and a projector with a high enough resolution will be able to do so. For example, some projectors have a screen resolution of 1,440 x 900, roughly equivalent to a 720p video, while others can produce a full HD resolution 1080p video.
Many people will choose a 720p projector because it can fit into most rooms and are easier to transport. However, higher projector resolution has become popular, particularly 1080p Full HD resolution and even 4K. In addition, 8K is starting to make its way into the technological mainstream, but most home projectors have not yet included 8k.
What does “p” mean?
Before we jump to the comparison between 720p vs. 1080p projectors, let us try to understand what the “p” means. The “p” stands for progressive scan.
A cathode ray tube (CRT) is a device used to produce light by scanning an electron beam across a phosphor-coated screen. The resulting luminescence is projected onto a viewing surface, such as a display. Electrons hit the screen from top to bottom in this type of display. The issue is that by the time graphics emerge at the bottom, the top section has already faded.
The solution manufacturers came up with was interlacing. However, it didn’t resolve the problem as it resulted in image distortion. So, over time, a new technique came up called progressive scanning.
Both 720p and 1080p have progressively scanned resolutions. The lines show progressively on the screens as a result of this. The projector displays a more detailed image in this order, so 720p and 1080p monitors, especially CRT TVs, have higher image quality than others.
Understanding The Role of Pixels
The numbers before the “p” are the pixels. Pixels are the smallest building blocks in a display device. A large number of pixels are what make up images displayed on a screen.
Let’s compare the number of pixels that 720p and 1080p have:
720p or 1280×720 – This means it has 720 horizontal lines of 1280 pixels. Total: 921,600 pixels.
1080p or 1920×1080 – This means it has 1080 horizontal lines of 1920 pixels. Total: 2,073,600 pixels.
Only when the pixels are combined will you be able to see an image. So the more pixels that you have, the better the image. Having more pixels produces more crisp and sharper images.
From what we learned about pixels, the more you have, the better image quality a projector can produce. The 1080p resolution is the clear winner in picture quality from a pixel perspective. However, the number of pixels alone cannot achieve excellent image quality.
Screen Size and Seating Distance Matter
Now that we know what pixels are in an image, we’ll understand that our screen’s size and the seating distance from the screen matter.
The pixels get more significant as your screen gets bigger. As a result, the distance between you and the screen impacts how you see it. For larger projector screens, say bigger than 50″, and are less than 10 feet away from the viewer, a 1080p projector is the way to go. If your screen is smaller than 50″, the difference between the two resolutions will not be noticeable. This is because you can only perceive a change in pixels per inch on a screen, not the total number of pixels.
Therefore, if you have smaller screens or your seating distance is far, there won’t be a visible difference between the two resolutions.
How Will You Use It?
Deciding which of the two has a better resolution is not just about pixel count. We also need to consider where we will use the projector.
Streaming and HDTV
Most premium and non-premium cable/satellite companies and HDTV broadcasters use 720p or 1080i, and only some use 1080p. On the other hand, streaming providers can send out a variety of resolutions, including 720p and 1080p, although higher 1080p is more expensive.
When your 1080p projector displays 720p or 1080i images, you may notice a reduction in quality. However, while 720p will scale the 1080i and 1080p inputs to their own pixel density, 1080i will be sharper in 1080p.
This variance in sharpness is relatively minimal and may go unnoticed, so the resolution you choose may not matter. However, if you want to save money, go for the 720p version because the difference is minor.
1080p is a popular gaming resolution when playing video games because it provides a superb gaming experience. However, the resolution on older systems is 720p, so if you wish to display your games, you should use 1080p projectors because they provide the most remarkable quality projection. If you have a PS4 or PS5, check out our guide on how to connect PlayStation to the projector.
DVDs, like streaming services, often have a 720p or 480p resolution. Regular DVDs have 480p resolution, while HD DVD comes at 720p. However, a few may have full HD 1080p specifications. Regular DVDs or standard definition ones only have 480 lines per frame. Watching your DVD on a 720p projector will rescale lines to 720 lines and 1080 lines on a 1080p projector. So while the image quality may be a bit better on a 1080p projector, it won’t be a noticeable difference.
With a 1080p DVD, a 1080p projector outperforms a 720p projector, but you may not get the same level of quality with 480p or 720p DVDs because 1080p projectors try to scale 720p to 1080p, which ruins the picture quality. In addition, you will not maximize full resolution power in DVDs.
In short, a 720p projector is the way to go if you will use only 720p or 480p.
If your priority is to get better image quality with your movies using your projector, you probably have a Blu-Ray player. Most Blu-ray DVDs have a 1080p resolution so that you can maximize the display on a 1080p projector. Blu-ray will give you the clarity that you’re looking for to enjoy the best picture possible from your projector.
So if you want to get the full blue-ray experience, you’ll want to invest in a 1080p projector.
So, will you go for the cheaper 720p projector or get the Full HD 1080p projector? While 1080p appears to be the more popular and superior choice at first glance, we now know that the difference in resolution won’t be that noticeable if you have smaller screens and the viewing distance is far. It also all boils down to how you will use the projector. If you are going to watch your serials, play games, and other kinds of stuff on 720p resolutions with the average screen size of 40-50 inches from 8-10 ft. away, you are good to go with 720p.
On the other hand, if you want a sharper image and are going to play games and watch whole things in full HD 1080p with a 100-120 inches big screen from 15-20 ft. away, you should go for a 1080p projector.
My name is Henry Larson and I have been associated with research and development of projectors throughout my professional career. I used all my experience and expertise to create this blog so that I can guide people to get the best projector of their choice. For any further assistance, you can get in touch with me through email or comments.