The Difference Between 780P & 1080P Plasma Screen TVs

by Todd Bowerman

When it comes to high definition televisions, there's no shortage of complicated tech-speak. The average consumer has to wade through plenty of technical terms to get a bearing on the differences between televisions, and some of that industry-specific vocabulary can obfuscate the true differences between any two televisions. Understanding the differences between TVs requires an examination of how HDTVs work, and how content is delivered to them.

What 1080p Means

In the HD television world, a television's total resolution is determined by the number of horizontal lines on the screen. A 720p television is capable of displaying 720 horizontal lines at once, while a 1080p television displays 1080. The “p” part stands for “progressive.” Progressive scan televisions re-draw all lines on the screen many times per second, resulting in a more crisp and smooth image output. 1080p televisions have a higher total resolution than 720p televisions and provide a higher overall image quality.

Refresh Rate

The rate at which progressive scan televisions redraw the on-screen image is referred to as “refresh rate.” Higher refresh rates provide higher quality image performance. However, it's important to note that a television cannot add quality to source material. While it's true that a refresh rate of 240 Hz is better than a refresh rate of 60 Hz on paper, movies and television shows are encoded at 60 Hz -- you won't see any difference between rates. The only media in which you will notice a difference between 60 Hz and a higher refresh rate is in high-end video games running on powerful gaming computers at frame rates of 60 frames-per-second or more. Console games, such as those on the Wii, Xbox 360, or PS4, are limited to 30-60 fps and gain no benefit from high refresh rates.

Blu-Ray, Video Games, and Television

A 1080p television has a higher image quality than a 720p television, but only if the media being watched outputs at 1080p. Most television broadcasters use the 720p format, as do DVDs and certain video games. For those users with 720p televisions, there's no discernible difference between their TV and a 1080p TV if the media is broadcast at 720p. However, high-end video games and Blu-rays output content at 1080p – comparing media of this nature between the two televisions will show a clear image quality advantage on the 1080p TV.

Plasma vs. LCD

Both plasma and LCD televisions are capable of displaying at resolutions of 720p and 1080p. However, the two television types provide different advantages and disadvantages. Plasmas generally have better blacks than LCDs, along with better image contrast. Plasmas also have a wider viewing angle. LCDs, however, are much cheaper than plasma televisions, consume less power, and are smaller and easier to mount. LCDs are also less susceptible to image burn, which occurs if particular items are left on-screen long enough to leave a permanent impression on the screen.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images