By Melanie Mayberry, programming editor
Over the years, the debate over whether 1080i HD or 720p HD offers a better High-Definition picture has divided tech officials and viewers alike. Fox was an early adopter of the 720p format with top network exec (and industry legend) David Hill saying it offered a smoother display of motion, particularly in sports. Fox network affiliates are still sending 720p signals and so does ESPN on cable and satellite systems.
But CBS, which also broadcasts a variety of sports, has been an advocate of 1080i HD, saying it offers a more detailed display. TBS also produces its sports in 1080i.
More than two decades after HDTVs began showing up in retail stores, the 1080i vs. 720p debate still rages in Internet message forums even though some networks now pump out 1080p HD via streaming. (And everyone agrees that 1080p is better than both 720p and 1080i.) We thought we would ask our favorite Artificial Intelligence engine, ChatGPT, for its perspective on whether 1080i or 720p delivers a better picture. After reading the story, The TV Answer Man said he largely agreed with its conclusion.
Below is the AI response, and as always, the story was fact-checked and edited by the TV Answer Man team. Enjoy.
When it comes to High-Definition television, two of the most common resolutions are 1080i and 720p. Both offer significant improvements over standard-definition (SD) television, but which one provides a better picture?
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First, let’s define what each resolution means. 1080i refers to a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels, with the “i” standing for interlaced. This means that the image is divided into two fields of 540 lines each, and each field is displayed alternately, resulting in a total of 1080 lines displayed every second. 720p, on the other hand, refers to a resolution of 1280×720 pixels, with the “p” standing for progressive. This means that all 720 lines are displayed in one go, resulting in a smoother image.
In terms of overall picture quality, both resolutions have their pros and cons. Here are a few factors to consider:
- Detail: In terms of sheer detail, 1080i has the edge, as it offers more pixels than 720p. This means that fine details in images and text are more visible, and the overall image appears sharper.
- Motion: When it comes to fast-moving images, however, 720p may have the edge. Because it is a progressive scan, it can display motion more smoothly, without the “stuttering” effect that interlaced images can sometimes have.
- Display technology: Another factor to consider is the type of display you are using. If you have a smaller TV or are sitting farther away from the screen, the difference between 1080i and 720p may be less noticeable. However, if you have a large TV or sit closer to the screen, you may benefit from the increased detail of 1080i.
- Source material: The quality of the source material you are watching can also impact the overall picture quality. If you are watching a low-quality DVD or streaming video, the difference between 1080i and 720p may be less noticeable than if you are watching a high-quality Blu-ray or 4K video.
So, which one is better? The answer ultimately depends on your personal preferences and viewing habits. If you prioritize detail and are willing to sacrifice some smoothness in motion, 1080i may be the better choice for you. If you prioritize smoothness in motion and are willing to sacrifice some detail, 720p may be the better choice.
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In conclusion, both 1080i and 720p offer significant improvements over standard-definition television, and both have their pros and cons. The best resolution for you ultimately depends on your personal preferences and viewing habits, as well as the specific display technology and source material you are using.
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On my 70 inch 4K, the difference between 1080i and 720p is obvious. As for motion, I’ve never seen a problem with 1080i on either CBS or NBC football broadcasts. 720p on the Fox pregame shows look smeary and the turf on the field looks poorly defined. 1080i is best.
The missing number here is frame rate
60 fps for 720p. 60 full frames per second.
That’s what smooths motion and helps make up for fewer pixels than 1080i 30fps
Also use native frame rate if your set has it. Don’t lock into 1080 or 720, set will be converting picture