Can I still be one of the cool kids with 720p resolution
November 28, 2008 8:24 AM   Subscribe

I grabbed a 42" LCD television made by LG, on sale at Circuit Bankruptcy for $750. I saved a couple hundred bucks by choosing one with 720p/1080i resolution rather than 1080p. Am I a dumbass or a genius?

Intended uses: Standard and hi-def digital cable from FIOS with maybe a 5-foot viewing distance; low-intensity gaming (of the Wii variety); low-to-moderate DVD watching (but we don't run with the finding-nemo-hi-def-bluray crowd.)

Any drawbacks to jumping on this now?
posted by Saucy Intruder to Technology (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You will totally be a dumbass when 1080p programming is widely available, which is probably a couple of years. For now you're a genius, just don't get a Blu Ray player.
posted by xmutex at 8:29 AM on November 28, 2008

Well, most HD broadcasts that you'll get from the FIOS service will be in 720p, the Wii will only do 480p, and DVD watching is (I think) 480p. There's something to be said for upscalers built into DVD players and TV's, but that's basically just creating information that isn't there--it's not like watching a 1080p source or anything.

In other words, you're fine. You'd be more fine if you were sitting farther back; I think 5 feet might be below the recommended viewing distance for a 42" set anyway.
posted by DMan at 8:30 AM on November 28, 2008

Best answer: Yeah, according to the chart, if you do eventually get a real HD signal at 1080p, 5 feet away is solidly in "1080p worthwhile" territory.
posted by Grither at 8:36 AM on November 28, 2008 [2 favorites]

Well, you did jump the gun a little. In the $750 dollar range you will occasionally find 1080p, 42" screens - usually from second tier brands. Not usually at your local big box, mind you, but on internet clearance sites.

A whole slew of people will be in here in a second pumping up that twelve month old popular opinion that 1080p on anything less than a 50" screen is a waste of money. That line of thinking made sense last year when there was a huge price difference between 720 and 1080, not so much anymore now that 1080p screens have hit the sub-$1000 range.

Six months from now you'll certainly be able to find this size in 1080p at Costco and other volume discount stores for what you paid today - maybe less.

So... on a long enough timeline the TV becomes a poor investment, no matter what.

But that's the same for every other piece of consumer electronics. I'm typing this on a 24" Dell LCD screen that I paid $630 for about two and half years ago - and that was a damn good deal at the time. Do I regret the purchase? No, but I wish I had that $630 now to buy something bigger - as it is I'm sort of stuck with this one until it goes out.

So, enough with the buyer's remorse. There is ALWAYS a better deal out there somewhere, but you'll grow old chasing it.

Will you miss the 1080p? Sure, you always miss what you don't have. But as long as this set is the size you want, for a space that is well suited for it, you'll mostly forget about the other deals out there...

Enjoy your TV - in a few years it'll make a good set for the den or bedroom, or sell it on Craig's List and reclaim some of your investment...
posted by wfrgms at 8:41 AM on November 28, 2008

On a technical level, Grither's link looks pretty reasonable, but there is still wiggle room for subjectivity. Individual eyesight and attention to detail could produce a personal version of that chart for me that would vary wildly from your personal chart.

Ultimately, what matters is whether or not you're happy with the picture. If you're happy with what you've got, you're a genius. If you're going to regret what you've got because you could have done "better", you're a dumbass(to answer your first question).
posted by owtytrof at 8:48 AM on November 28, 2008

It fundamentally depends on you - I have a TV that is only 720p (bedroom) and am quite happy even with my cable HD or standard DVD content.
posted by jkaczor at 8:56 AM on November 28, 2008

There were better deals just to be had today. 40" Samsung at Walmart for $800 (1080p). 44" 1080p Samsung at Bestbuy for $1000.

All that matters is you're happy though.
posted by zephyr_words at 9:04 AM on November 28, 2008

Best answer: Regretfully, I have to vote dumbass.

You can get 37" 720p tvs for $500 on newegg; not name-brand really, but check around in the comments to see who the panel manufacturers are.

You can get 42" 1080p tvs for $900 on newegg.

So $750 for a 42" 720p seems pretty fucking far from the sweet spot.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:09 AM on November 28, 2008

Yes, I would vote dumbass. Stay tuned to Slickdeals for any 24-hour period and you will have no trouble finding a mid-tier $800 40" TV with 1080p. Figure $50-100 savings for a cheapo brand or a $200 premium for Sony or Panasonic. Also, prices will almost definitely drop in the next month.
posted by rxrfrx at 9:15 AM on November 28, 2008

Response by poster: From dumbass to genius in 30 seconds: I canceled the order at CC and got the 1080p from Amazon for $977. seems that the close viewing distance will seal the deal. thanks everyone.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 9:20 AM on November 28, 2008

Too bad - I was going to say you were a genius. You wouldn't be able to see the difference at 42"; there's not going to be many 1080p cable signals available anytime soon because they take up too much bandwitdth.
posted by Dasein at 9:46 AM on November 28, 2008

As far as the tv and your eye are concerned, almost all the 1080i60 transmissions you get over cable (which are legion) are the same as 1080p30.

And the 1080i on the tv doesn't mean that it shows 1080i -- it just means that it accepts a 1080i signal and downconverts it to either 720p or 768p depending on the panel.

The exceptions are some sports and other things shot directly with hdtv cameras, where the 1080i60 fields aren't just interlaced out of a 1080p30 frame.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:56 AM on November 28, 2008

The jump from SD to HD is dramatic. The jump from 1080i to 1080p isnt nearly as dramatic and I find it questionable in sub 50" screens. You'll get a 1080p signal from bluray and some gaming consoles but the bandwidth requirements for 1080p are pretty hefty. I would be surprised to see sat and cable providers providing a decent 1080p signal any time soon. Right now they are struggling with 1080i/720p and delivering a highly compressed video signal. 1080p is something like 8x the bandwidth. Why would these companies sacrifice 7 720p channels just to offer one 1080p channel? I dont see it happening in "a couple years."

Most likely what youre going to see is a sat or cable box scale a 720p image to a 1080p. That is not native 1080p, its 720p stretched out.

I think staying with 1080i and saving 300+ dollars is a smart move.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:57 AM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

I haven't seen any good 1080p sources, right now most things are 1080i or 720p upscaled to 1080p.

Realistically, consider the different on your computer monitor between 1280x720 and 1920x1080. It's quite a difference sometimes, other times, depending on the game it's unnoticable.

That being said, I paid $750 canadian 6 months ago for a similar TV not on sale. So realistically, no would not have been getting a good deal if you had followed through.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:51 AM on November 28, 2008

For the record... aside from the 720p vs. 1080p issue, beware of going out of business "sales," especially in the early stages. A liquidation company in charge of the sale raises all the prices to retail, then starts the discounts from there. This results in many items selling for more than they did previously.

I saw this firsthand at my local Sheets 'n' Shit... er... Linens 'n' Things store. The signs boast 20% to 40% off, but a quick glance around showed prices the same or higher than I saw there prior to the liquidation.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 10:54 AM on November 28, 2008

I think staying with 1080i and saving 300+ dollars is a smart move.

The savings from that tv vs a 1080p tv weren't $300. They were $150, though in the end he got a slightly more expensive tv than that.

The jump from 1080i to 1080p isnt nearly as dramatic and I find it questionable in sub 50" screens

This wasn't a 1080i tv; there aren't any 1080i lcds. It's a 720p tv that can accept a 1080i signal.

And the problem wasn't that a 1080p tv is necessary in any way, or that he will necessarily see a large improvement over a 720p tv. The problem was that that particular 720p tv cost $750, which is too much. Barring a spectacular deal, spending $750 on a tv right now doesn't make a lot of sense. Spend $500 for a slightly smaller 720p, or $1K for 1080p. Either way makes more sense than the original purchase.

I would be surprised to see sat and cable providers providing a decent 1080p signal any time soon.

Again, 1080i60 is, to all intents and purposes, 1080p30 unless it was shot at 1080i with an hd camera.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:32 PM on November 28, 2008

Since the OP has gone with a 1080p after all, I'll post for all those who might read this thread later.

I own a 42" Samsung Plasma 720p. I've had it now for a year and a half and I've been entirely satisfied and pleased. I use an upscaling DVD player and receive about 30 or so HD channels through Cox Communications. The result are crisp pictures that are fantastic when compared to the old standard pictures. I could very well be suffering from a "Don't know what I'm missing" issue, but the quality, clarity, detail, etc, that I'm getting just on my 720p tv is good enough for me not to care.

Perhaps some years down the road, when everything and everything is broadcast in 1080p, I'll worry about it. When Blue Ray players and discs stop costing an arm and a leg and fall down to DVD prices, I'll worry about it. But as is, I'm pretty happy.
posted by Atreides at 8:58 AM on November 29, 2008

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