720p is one of the HDTV formats. It means the image has 720 lines of "vertical resolution", i.e. 720 pixels from top to bottom. The p stands for progressive, which means that each frame is a single full-resolution image, unlike some formats that use interlacing.
720p has a horizontal resolution of 1280, so the entire image is 1280x720 pixels (approx. 920,000 pixels in total).
720p can have any of five different frame rates (frames per second, or fps): 720p24, 720p25, 720p30, 720p50 or 720p60. Traditionally, PAL countries use 25fps (50 fields), NTSC countries use 30fps (60 fields). 24fps is the frame rate for film, making this an ideal format to use for film conversions.
When used with 50 or 60 fps, 720p has the best frame rate of the first-generation high-definition formats. This is one advantage it has over 1080i and 1080p. However, future versions of the 1080 formats are envisioned to use higher frame rates, which would give them the edge.
- 720p is generally compatible with most televisions and computer monitors. Although some image processing is usually required, this applies to other HDTV formats as well.
- 720p has initially been preferred by sports broadcasters, as it tends to work better with fast-moving images than 1080i and 1080p.