720p vs 1080p Projectors: Which is Better?

When it comes to resolution, we’ve been told many times that 1080p is better than 720p, but is this true?

If you care about the quality of your projector’s image, then you care about your projector’s resolution. Before you decide whether 720p or 1080p is better, you need to know their characteristics.

We made this easier for you by breaking their specifics down into four sections - Image, Screen Size and Seating Distance, HDTV, Blu-Ray and DVDs, and Gaming - which will help you decide which is the better option of the two.

720p vs 1080p Projectors: Main Differences

  • Do you want a projector that casts great images?
  • Do you like larger projector screens?
  • Do you prefer watching movies with your projector over playing video games?

Your answers to these questions will decide which resolution is better for you.

Before jumping into the specifics, we need to focus on these two HD resolutions to see which is better.

So, how are 720p and 1080p different?

720p

720p

The first HD resolution available, 720p, also referred to as 1280x720, has 720 horizontal lines of 1280 pixels, which totals to 921,600 pixels.

Though 720p is no longer as readily available as before now that 1080p is much more available, it is cheaper than 1080p and still outputs a beautiful picture. Yet, 720p lacks the image sharpness and quality that 1080p has.

1080p

1080p

The most popular HD resolution, 1080p, otherwise known as Full HD or 1920x1080, has 2,073,600 pixels from its 1080 horizontal lines of 1920 pixels.

While 1080p projectors produce beautiful, sharp images, they are better on screens bigger than 50” from a seating distance of less than 10 feet, the optimal being 6.5ft.

Though 1080p projectors produce better images, 720p can be just as good in certain circumstances. But if 1080p is what you aim for, you should check our list of the best 1080p projectors.

Similarities

720p and 1080p are both progressively scanned resolutions (their “p’s” meaning progressively scanned), so their lines are all captured in one frame. They are both great HD resolutions that will give you beautiful images. 

720p vs 1080p Projectors: Specifics

Image

There is no question to this characteristic, 1080p resolution produces the brighter, sharper, more detailed, and better quality image than 720p.

But, depending on your screen size and seating distance, you may not even notice the difference between 1080p and 720p.

Screen Size and Seating Distance

If your screen is less than 50” and you sit 10ft or more away from your screen, then you will not notice a difference between 720p and 1080p. This is because what truly changes on your screen from these projectors isn’t the number of pixels, but the pixels per inch.

The larger your screen, the larger the pixels. This makes your seating distance affect how you see the screen. If you have a larger screen and sit less than 10ft away, then you’re going to want 1080p. If you don’t, then it won’t matter which resolution you get.

HDTV, DVDs, and Blu-Ray

Depending on how you feel about these topics, you may prefer 720p over 1080p.

HDTV and Streaming

Most cable/satellite providers and HDTV broadcasters, whether premium or not, use 720p or 1080i, though there are some which use 1080p. Streaming services, on the other hand, can send out many resolutions, including 720p and 1080p, though the better resolution costs more.

There is a possibility for you to notice the loss in resolution when your 1080p projector inputs 720p or 1080i resolutions. But, while 720p will scale the 1080i and 1080p inputs to its own beautiful pixel density, 1080i is sharper in 1080p. Yet, this sharpness may not even be noticed and it may not matter which resolution you get. If money is an issue, get the 720p because the difference is minimal.

You should also check out our list of the best projector TVs, if you're looking for an upgrade for your home theater.

DVDs

This is the same with DVDs. HD DVDs use 720p and regular DVDs only use 480p, which is then rescaled to 720p or 1080p, depending on your projector. While the image will look better on your 1080p projector, the difference may be barely noticeable.

Blu-Ray

The tide turns at Blu-Ray. Blu-Ray is almost always in 1080p, and will thus perform best with 1080p projectors, giving a sharper and better picture than 720p could output.

Also, you should check out our Blu-Ray vs DVD comparison guide, if you want to understand better the difference between those two.

Gaming

Not only is 1080p the most popular gaming resolution, but it also allows for amazing in-game performance. With 720p only being available on older gen systems, you are going to want a 1080p projector if you plan to project your games, since 1080p projectors are considered the best projectors for gaming.

gaming

Not only is 1080p the most popular gaming resolution, but it also allows for amazing in-game performance. With 720p only being available on older gen systems, you are going to want the best 1080p projector if you plan to project your games.

Overall Usage

Now that you see how the two differ, you may still be wondering which is better for you.

720p

720p lacks the pixels and image quality that 1080p has. It is the inferior resolution of the two.

But 720p performs just as well as 1080p when it comes to HDTV, DVDs, and smaller screens. If you want to save money, then 720p may be perfect for you.

1080p

1080p produces better quality images and works amazingly with larger screens, closer seating, Blu-Ray, gaming, and streaming services.

But if you don’t have a larger screen and you don’t plan to game or use Blu-Ray, then this may not be worthwhile for you.

Final Verdict

So, which is better? Well, this is all up to how you plan to use your projector and whether you care about a sharper image. Our suggestion is to consider the 1080p projector. It has better resolution, a better image, and more compatibilities. Besides, it’ll look great on your large screen TV.

Quick Recap

720p Projectors

  • Differences barely recognizable from 1080p with TV and DVDs
  • Great image quality
  • Better for smaller screens and farther seat placement

1080p Projectors

  • Better image quality
  • Gaming must have
  • Best for Blu-Ray
  • Better for larger screens 
Sources:

My name is Steve Scott. Father of 2 and owner of Outdoor Movie HQ. I’ve been involved in the A/V industry for most of my life and built this blog to help people better understand projector technology. Please leave a comment if you have any questions.

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