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720p vs. 1080p vs. 4K resolution: Does it really make a difference?

720p vs 1080p vs 4K Resolution

I know that many of you out there are shouting at your computer screens after reading that headline. “Of course it makes a difference!” And you’re right — there is a perceptible difference between the most common resolutions for TVs, smartphones and computer monitors. But your mileage will noticeably vary based on a few important factors.

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As Carlton Bale explains in helpful a blog post, “the screen must be quite large and you must sit fairly close” to detect the added resolution of a 4K display over a 1080p display. 8.3 million pixels (4K) vs. 2.1 million pixels (1080p) might sound like big gap, but considering the fact that “a person with 20/20 vision can resolve 60 pixels per degree,” most viewers won’t see the difference.

In order to prove his point, Bale put together this handy chart which shows exactly how large your screen needs to be and how (ridiculously) close you need to stand to it in order to get the full benefit of the extra pixels:

Research shows that the average viewer sits nine feet away from the television, but in order to fully experience 4K resolution on a massive 84-inch display, you’ll need to sit 5.5 feet or closer to your TV.

In other words, unless you’re planning on picking up a television with a display that approaches 100 inches, this might not be the right time to invest in a 4K TV. And on top of that, there’s still hardly any 4K content available to watch, so for now, 1080p is really all the resolution you need.

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.