Technology Explained

What’s the Difference Between HD Ready & Full HD?

Mihir Patkar 10-10-2017

Every television or set-top box you buy today will support high-definition (HD) video. But even then, there’s a bit of jargon to wade through. Particularly, you’ll need to know the difference between HD Ready and Full HD.


In the most basic terms, HD Ready TVs and set top boxes can show you 720p images at 1280×720 pixels. Full HD TVs and set top boxes show 1080p images at 1920×1080 pixels. The higher the resolution, the sharper the images look.

But if only it was that simple…

HD Ready vs. HD Ready vs. Full HD

Wait, what’s HD Ready doing twice up there? Depending on where you live, the definition of HD Ready is slightly difference. Specifically, U.S.A and Europe define it differently.

What’s the Difference Between HD Ready & Full HD? hd ready logo 670x420

In the U.S., HD Ready for a TV means that the TV can output 720p images and has a built-in digital tuner. However, the same HD Ready logo is also printed on several projectors, computer monitors, and other devices which don’t have a tuner. The TV is the exception.


What’s the Difference Between HD Ready & Full HD? hd ready 1080p logo 670x400

In Europe, the digital tuner doesn’t matter to get the HD Ready logo. The output should be 720p to get the HD Ready logo. In some old TVs, you might see an “HD Ready 1080p” logo. This is the same as the Full HD logo.

What’s the Difference Between HD Ready & Full HD? full hd 1080 logo 627x500

Worldwide, the golden Full HD 1080p logo is a standard that denotes the display can show 1080p images. It does not indicate anything about a digital tuner, but in the U.S., most Full HD TVs have one.


720 vs. 1080

What’s the Difference Between HD Ready & Full HD? hd ready full hd comparison 670x377

The logo aside, you need to know the actual difference in the quality. Your TV shows video as a series of lines, both horizontal and vertical. How many horizontal lines can your TV display at one time? That’s the magic number: 720 or 1080.

With more lines, you get more pixels, and thus better video quality. That’s why 4K and Ultra HD is even sharper What's the Difference Between 4K and Ultra HD (UHD)? Thinking of buying a new TV or monitor but confused by the differences between 4K vs. UHD? Here's what you need to know. Read More .

Why Does My HD Ready 720p TV Show 1080i? (a.k.a. Interlaced vs. Progressive)

Things get confusing when you look at the specifications of an HD Ready 720p TV. There’s another line that says it displays “1080i” videos. But 1080i doesn’t mean it’s Full HD. In fact, the salesman might try using this as one of his showroom tricks to con you Buying A New TV Or PC? Avoid Showroom Tricks That Cost You Money Over the years I've become more and more resistant to their tactics and approaches, thanks mainly, I think, to the realisation that they haven't been entirely honest with me. Read More , but don’t fall for it.


The “p” and the “i” stand for Progressive and Interlaced, respectively. Progressive and Interlaced scans are how the TV displays each frame of the video. As you might know, most videos show around 25 frames per second.

In progressive scan or 1080p, the TV shows all 1080 horizontal lines at the same time.

In interlaced scan or 1080i, the TV shows half the lines of one frame, followed by half the lines of the next frame. The idea is to trick the eye into believing it is one image, but the human eye eventually sees the lack of quality.

The message to take away from this? Ignore “1080i” or anything with an “i” after it. Interlaced video doesn’t look good and doesn’t matter.


Where Will You See These Logos?

While you will always see the HD Ready or Full HD logo on TVs, they show up on some other similar gadgets too, like projectors and monitors. The one that matters most to your TV is the set top box.

What’s the Difference Between HD Ready & Full HD? hd ready projector 670x394

The big rule is that video plays at the resolution supported by the lowest-rung device . In other words, if your TV is Full HD 1080p but your set top box is HD Ready 720p, your TV will show 720p images. Some TVs will attempt to upscale the video What Is Upscaling? How Does It Work? Is It Worth It? What is upscaling? How does it work? Is it all it's cracked up to be? Here's everything you need to know. Read More , but this doesn’t result in better quality images.

Similarly, a 720p TV with a 1080p video connection (through your set top box or a gaming console) will still only show 720p videos. So the best quality video is when the input matches the output’s resolution.

And again, HD Ready 720p set top boxes can show 1080i videos too. But don’t even flip on that setting, it’s not worth it.

Stop Worrying About “HD Ready” in TVs And Other Displays

Today, it makes little sense to worry about an “HD Ready” tag in most devices. The 720p resolution has become the default minimum for every display device. So if you’re buying a TV, monitor, projector, or anything like that, it will support 720p video at least.

The Full HD tag can help you figure out whether it supports 1080p video or not. And well, almost every cheap smart TV you should buy What's the Cheapest Smart TV You Should Buy? The price of TVs varies wildly. You can literally be looking at thousands of dollars separating the cheapest models from the most expensive ones. Read More today has it.

HD Ready vs. Full HD vs. 4K vs. Ultra HD

In the past few years, as technology advanced, you now need to consider two other logos. There’s the Ultra HD logo and the 4K logo.

What’s the Difference Between HD Ready & Full HD? 4k ultra hd logo 670x442

  • 4K is a sub-set of Ultra HD, and denotes 2160p video at 4096×2160 pixels resolution.
  • Ultra HD, or “Full Ultra HD”, can go up to 4320p video at 7620×4320 pixels resolution.

Right now, Full Ultra HD isn’t available on most TVs. But in a few years, much like the confusion of “HD Ready vs. Full HD”, get ready for “Ultra HD vs. Full Ultra HD.”

And again, this isn’t just about TVs. Even to play videos of the same resolution, you’ll need an Ultra HD Blu-ray player Everything You Need to Know About Ultra HD Blu-Ray Ultra HD Blu-ray is one of the hot topics in home entertainment for 2016. Curious? Here's everything you need to know about it to decide if it's worth getting excited over. Read More or stream such 4K content.

Resolution vs. Quality

Unfortunately, marketers have turned picture resolution into a yardstick for picture quality. But that’s not true at all. There are several factors that decide how video looks on your TV, and you shouldn’t buy something based on the resolution alone.

The TV’s panel, the engine, the backlighting technology, and other parts are just as important. For more, read our guide on how to pick a TV for your living room TV Buying Guide: How To Pick The Right TV For Your Living Room When it comes to buying a TV, there's a lot more than what's on a spec sheet. By the end of this guide, you'll know exactly how to pick the right TV. Read More .

And while buying the TV is the easy part, help us out in the input. Are there any HD Ready vs. Full HD scams in set top boxes to avoid? How do you ensure you get the same input as your TV’s capability?

Image Credit: semisatch/Depositphotos, Rubenlodi/Wikimedia Commons

Related topics: Computer Monitor, HDMI, Television, Ultra HD.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Newton
    August 24, 2019 at 11:14 pm

    really helpful and accurate article.

  2. Jim
    February 12, 2018 at 7:17 pm

    Does "HD only" mean that only HD television can be viewed?

  3. Jim
    February 12, 2018 at 5:50 pm

    Great article but it doesn't seem to say whether a TV set listed as HD TV only will also show lesser lines. Help please. Thanks. Jim.

  4. ania
    October 17, 2017 at 6:25 am


  5. Gazoo
    October 10, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    All I see is 16:9 aspect ratio and how TV video changed computer monitors... for the worst. 4:3, 3:2 and even 16:10 aspect ratios with effective matte screens replaced with 16:9, highly reflective screens which are best for viewing in dark rooms. It's. A. Nightmare.

  6. sylvia
    September 11, 2017 at 10:01 pm

    I have a Hitachi HD ready TV that I purchased in 2003. We connected the Direct TV box with component cables and set it to 1080i. Yes, we can watch 1080i HD TV

  7. Chintoo
    February 10, 2016 at 9:10 am

    Full HD means the TV has a built-in HD Tuner, and it will display upto 1080p through any input mode.
    HD Ready means that the TV does not have a tuner, and it will need an external tuner to support HD transmission, or it will downscale the image received to 1280x720.

  8. Chintoo
    February 10, 2016 at 9:04 am

    Full HD means the TV has a built-in HD Tuner, and it will display upto 1080p through any input mode.
    HD Ready means that the TV does not have a tuner, and it will need an external tuner to support HD transmission.

    • Jon Pienaar
      March 4, 2018 at 2:52 pm

      +Chintoo, I'm sorry, but that is not correct. It's all about the resolution of the image shown, as explained in the article. HD Ready TVs will show HD footage at a lower resolution than 1080p Full HD TVs. There is obviously a price difference, as HD Ready TVs are cheaper. It may be hard to tell the difference when it comes to streamed video or broadcast TV, as these are all compressed to some degree. It's a good idea to look also at viewing angle, brightness, contrast and other specs when choosing a TV.

      You get what you pay for.

  9. Anonymous
    October 27, 2015 at 10:28 am

    I am confused whether to go for HD Ready or for FULL HD my usage is minimal as I work from morning 10 to evening 7.

    Also confused to go for mitashi or samsung.

    Kindly guide me on this.

    • Jon Pienaar
      March 4, 2018 at 2:53 pm

      Samsung and LG are good brands you can rely on. Also look at Sony.

    • Abhilash
      March 4, 2018 at 5:08 pm

      Hi thank you for your reply I have already bought LG full HD 43 inches LED TV

  10. Anonymous
    August 12, 2015 at 9:26 am

    i would like to know that is there any difference when watching 720p and 1080p in a 22 inch screen?

    • Anonymous
      August 18, 2015 at 4:36 pm

      Yes 1080p is the best, unless you have a higher resolution. (This is how I see it anyway)

  11. Anonymous
    July 1, 2015 at 12:38 am

    HD READY is 720 p
    FULL HD is 1080p

  12. S.C. India
    May 25, 2015 at 8:29 am

    Great" Thnx!

  13. modesta
    May 17, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    what is the best tv to buy then with hd or full hd without making your eyes pain. pls help.. i need help

  14. Anonymous
    December 30, 2014 at 1:02 am

    Thanks, Matt. nice article. I am planning to buy one today. That was helpful.

  15. sadiq ali
    September 5, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    for 32 inch HDTV does HD ready and Full HD matter ? or no meaning of buying Full HD 32 inch HDTV ?

    • Jon Pienaar
      March 4, 2018 at 2:58 pm

      It depends largely on what you are watching. If it's compressed Netflix, then there's probably no discernible difference. However, watching a good 1080P Blu-Ray you will probably notice the difference. The Full HD will be sharper, clearer, more like a photograph, more true to the original film.

  16. Rajashekar
    July 26, 2012 at 1:55 am

    I really no thus meaning HD ready.

  17. m.h
    July 25, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    i think that FULL is for that it's the last version of this technology !? are there any resolution more than 1080 ?

    • Matt Smith
      July 25, 2012 at 10:55 pm

      Yes, there is so-called Quad-HD or 2160p. That's in the works right now.

  18. Fayz
    July 25, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    I only prefer Full HD on certain movies, but besides that I'm fine with 720p or even SD.

  19. Randy Smith
    July 23, 2012 at 2:16 am

    I believe 1080i refers to interlaced display. Interlaced when I was in this business (2002) meant every other horizontal line was drawn. If you numbered the 1080 horizontal lines, first the odd lines were drawn, then the even lines. This can give rise to interference patterns when displaying images in low light or especially foggy or misty pictures. The lines are not drawn at the same time, so they don't quite line up as each line is drawn.

  20. Ramon Fletcher
    July 22, 2012 at 10:31 am

    I thought I had understood this until your article. Thanks for the info

  21. Prasad Raju
    July 20, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    Very Nice article

  22. John swiman
    July 20, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    In Brazil several years ago the government mandated that all TVs had to begin to be manufactured to HD use. Originally the TVs were more like monitors and a converter box was used. Today 95% of all the TVs manufactured have the converter for digital signals installed in the TV.

    Also since cable TV is very popular here in Brazil all of the cable and satellite TV providers have in their own switch boxes the converter, which can detect if the TV has a converter installed or not. If the TV has a converter already installed the cable/satellite box will bypass the TVs system. If the TV is HD ready but does not have the converter installed then the cable/satellite box will use the converter they have in their box

  23. Olga
    July 20, 2012 at 6:41 am

    Now I see what is the difference between 1080i and 1080p! Thanks!

  24. Meidimi
    July 20, 2012 at 12:15 am

    great article, thanks for the info.

  25. Andrey Zvyagin
    July 19, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    In Russia, HD Ready means the screen resolution 1366 x 768 or 720p

    • Joses Lemmuela
      July 20, 2012 at 2:50 pm

      not 1280x720?

      • Matt Smith
        July 20, 2012 at 3:53 pm

        Here in the 'States, there are TVs with 1366x768, but they are called 720p to avoid additional confusion.

        • Jon Green
          July 20, 2012 at 10:25 pm

          This is normal in Europe, too. The panels have 1366x768 native resolution, and this available for VGA inputs for instance, but only display 720 lines when displaying broadcast TV.

  26. Jon Green
    July 19, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    The description of 1080i is completely incorrect. With interlaced scan formats (720i, 1080i), even-numbered lines are shown on one scan (or field), odd-numbered ones on the next. This is similar to the old analogue television, where the speed of transmission was halved by sending alternate scan line sets ("fields"), so that if the screen was displaying at 50Hz (Europe), you only got a full picture ("frame") every 25th of a second, not every 50th. The same principle applies here. The result is that fast motion looks a bit of a mess - but it's cheaper to do, both in terms of transmission and in the TV. It has nothing to do with alternating horizontal and vertical scans!

    The progressive-scan formats (720p, 1080p) display ALL lines on EVERY scan. If the scan frequency is 50Hz, as before, you get the whole frame every 50th of a second.

    • Matt Smith
      July 19, 2012 at 9:07 pm

      Ah, yes. Sorry for the mistake. It is an alternate between odd-number and even-number, not horizontal and vertical.

    • tarzan2001
      July 25, 2012 at 7:55 pm

      Nice and simple explanation! :)

  27. Moath Akkad
    July 19, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    greet article :)