Beware the 1080p HDTV scam on small screen displays

Are you in the market for a small HDTV? If you opt for a 1080p model that is less than 46 inches you may be paying too much, according to new information released by the Los Angeles Times.

The term 1080p means that the display will have 1080 lines of vertical resolution which provides more detail than a 720p display. Or does it?

Beware the 1080p HDTV scam on small screen displays

While 1080p can have benefits on smaller HD computer screens that will be used for text and graphics, there is likely no discernable difference when watching TV or movies when compared to the same size 720p screen.

“To see 1,080 vertical lines of resolution you need at least a TV of about 46 inches to fully see it,” states Gary Merson, editor of HDGuru.com. “At 26 inches, forget it, you won’t tell the difference.”

So why do manufacturers even offer 1080p in smaller displays? Actually, for less sinister reasons than some may believe.

Some manufacturers are simply going after the consumer market that wants to use the display for a computer monitor or game console, as well as watching television. Others may simply be adding TV tuners to existing models to reach new markets because it’s inexpensive for them to do so.

So maybe manufacturers aren’t trying to reap extra profit by intentionally selling their customers technology that they can’t actually benefit from.

However, when shopping for a small HDTV (or any electronic device for that matter) it’s good to know what specifications suit your needs so you don’t end up paying more than you should.

For example, a quick comparison on Amazon shows a $30 difference in the list price between a 26 inch 720p Vizio RazorLED  LCD and a 26 inch 1080p Vizio RazorLED LCD, with otherwise similar specifications. A look at offerings by other manufacturers shows similar results.

What’s the moral of the story? Educate yourself on specifications before you buy and, as always, buyer beware. HDTV manufacturers certainly aren’t the first, nor will they likely be the last, industry to sell people more than they can use.