There I stood at the crossroads. Two 32″ LCD HDTVs, both on sale for $1299. One a 720p, the other 1080p. “1080p?, “For the same price?” Every tech bone in my body said “1080p, 1080p, 1080p”. I hadn’t originally thought about 1080p as it wasn’t in my budget. But now there was a chance to get 1080p for what I was going to spend anyway!
But every visual bone in my body said no. One of these monitors is a better image. I asked myself, “Do you want a better image or to be able to brag to your friends that you have a 1080p?” So against all my previous techie inclinations, I got the lower res monitor.
The monitors in question are the Samsung 32″ 720p (LN-T3253H) LCD and the Sharp Aquos 32″ 1080p (LC32D62U) LCD. Both are the newest models from each manufacturer. The Samsung is their top model in that category. The Sharp is their first in a line of only 1080p monitors.
I spent an hour at the shop comparing both monitors. Without doing too much tweaking of the settings, and viewing them from about 7ft away, the monitors looked virtually the same. They both had great color saturation. Where they differed in specifications (besides resolution) was the contrast ratio. The Sharp LC32D62U has 10,000:1 while the Samsung LN-T3253H only has a 8,000:1 contrast ratio. Although the numbers varied, it was hard to see a huge difference in the contrast. Poor lighting may have accounted for this. (Contrast both of these monitors with Pioneer’s Kuro series boasting 20,000:1 contrast ratio – ouch!)
The Sharp also had the 1080p edge. So I asked one of the store techs to set up a test between both monitors, using hi def footage directly from a hard disk. It was hard to notice much difference. Keep in mind, that at 32″, 1080p is a lot harder to distinguish than if we were testing 42″ or 50″ monitors. So, even after this test, I wasn’t swayed in either direction.
The thing that convinced me to go with the Samsung 720p was sharpness. The Samsung just had a crisper image. The Sharp, although it’s name implies something otherwise, was not quite as “sharp”. Having purchased a Sharp Aquos LCD several years ago, I had been skeptical of the Aquos line of monitors being as crisp as others. And, after comparing the models side by side, I was truly convinced that the Samsung was right for me.
But sharpness isn’t for everyone. Look at plasmas, they are not as sharp as LCDs, but they have other qualities such as contrast ratio and color saturation that make the decision a hard one to make. My best advice is, go with your eyes. Go with your taste. Sometimes the higher resolution isn’t always the right resolution.