How to Use a Blu-ray Disc Player With a 720p TV

Using a Blu-ray disc player with a 720p TV

The Blu-ray Disc format is designed to provide the best TV and Home Theater viewing experiences from a disc-based format for TVs or video projectors that have a native 1080p display resolution. However, there are a lot of TVs in use that may have a lower display resolution, such as 720p.

As a result, one question that is commonly asked about Blu-ray is whether you can use a Blu-ray Disc player with a 720p TV.

Fortunately, the answer to that question is "YES," and here is how you can do it.

Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc Player
Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to

Blu-ray Disc Player Resolution Setting Options

All Blu-ray disc players have a video settings menu (which may be similar to the one shown above), which can be used to set the Blu-ray Disc player to a variety of video resolution output formats.

In the example shown above (from an OPPO BDP-103D), the video output resolution on a Blu-ray Disc player can be set anywhere from 480i up to 1080p. In addition, this specific Blu-ray Disc player can be set to output up to an upscaled resolution output of 4K when used with a 4K Ultra TV (this option is not shown in the photo because it is not connected to a 4K Ultra HD TV).

Blu-ray Disc Player Resolution Output Settings Example
Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to

Also, if your Blu-ray Disc player has a Source Direct option (such as shown in the photo), the player will output the resolution that is on the disc. In other words, DVDs will automatically be output in 480i or 480p, and Blu-ray Discs will be output in either 480p, 720p, 1080i, or 1080p, depending on the encoded resolution that is on the disc.

However, to make things even easier for consumers, Blu-ray Disc players also have an Auto Setting. This setting automatically detects the native resolution of your TV and sets the video resolution output of the Blu-ray Disc player that best matches your TV's native display resolution capability. This means that if you have a 720p TV, the player should automatically detect and then set the output resolution accordingly.

Important Things to Take Into Consideration

When it comes to the connection and outputting of video signals from your Blu-ray Disc player to a TV, there are some things to note.

First, Blu-ray Disc players made in 2013 or later only have HDMI outputs for video. This means that your TV, no matter if it is a 720p or 1080p, must have HDMI inputs, otherwise, there is no way to access the video content from a Blu-ray Disc (or DVDs and any streaming content) that the player needs to pass to the TV.

On the other hand, if you have an older Blu-ray Disc player (players made from 2006-2012), it may have component or even composite video connections. These connections will allow you to use it with just about any TV. The component video output will allow 480p, and maybe 720p or 1080i video resolution output, but the composite video output is limited to 480i. The player will know what connection is being used and adjust accordingly. However, the best connection option, in terms of image quality, if available is HDMI.

Sony UBP-X800 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Image provided by Sony

The Bottom Line

When you unbox and connect your Blu-ray Disc player to your TV, check the player's onscreen menu for the video output settings.

Just keep in mind that not all Blu-ray Disc player menus have the same layout and may not offer the exact settings as the ones shown in the example attached to this article. For example, on Blu-ray Disc players with just HDMI outputs, you may find that the 480i and Source Direct options may not be included, and, if you have a 4K Ultra HD TV most Blu-ray Disc players do not provide a 4K upscaling setting option. However, you can still use a standard Blu-ray Disc player with a 4K Ultra HD TV, you will just have to depend on the TV to perform the needed upscaling task, the quality of which may vary from model to model.

On the other hand, actual Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc players have been available since 2016. These players are designed to play Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, which not only include native 4K resolution content, but expand image quality further by adding HDR encoding (which include HDR10 and, in some cases Dolby Vision). The results of these enhancements can be viewed on compatible 4K Ultra HD TVs.

However, Ultra HD Blu-ray players are still compatible with standard Blu-ray Discs, DVDs, and music CDs, and you can also set the output resolution for use with 1080p or 720p TVs. However, HDMI connections are required, and of course, you won't get the added benefits of the enhanced video quality available.

If you currently have a 720p or 1080p TV, but plan to upgrade to a 4K TV in the near future, getting an Ultra HD Blu-ray player is a good way to future-proof your TV viewing experience, but if you have no intention to upgrade, you are better off with a standard Blu-ray Disc player as long as they are available or the one you have is working properly.