There is nothing like settling down on the sofa to watch our favorite films, sports and shows in front of the TV but, for many of us, our busy lives now mean it’s simply not possible to always watch the action unfold in the comfort of our own home.
Fortunately, the technology in Android-enabled smartphones and tablets has developed to the point where we can thankfully watch our unmissable shows or matches at the touch of a button – whether we’re sneakily keeping tabs on what’s happening while at work or keeping entertained on the train home.
According to research by eMarketer, while watching content on traditional TVs remains common, there has undoubtedly been growth in people watching digital video on other devices. The organization predicted that, in 2018, adults in the US would be spending an average of more than 60 minutes a day watching digital video, compared to just under four hours of TV viewing a day.
A fundamental part
One of the core developments that has helped to make digital video so popular has been the emergence of HD, a concept which has ensured that, regardless of what we’re up to, we always get a quality picture on our phones.
It has become fundamental to our time looking at content from the web in a number of ways. For example, the grand majority of content offered by video sites from YouTube to Netflix now generally comes in HD. In addition, if you are a fan of games of chance, sites like Betway now offer players the opportunity to participate in roulette games which operate in streamed HD. Furthermore, we all expect to be able to have a crystal clear display which allows us to see every detail of pictures and other content stored on our devices.
But, while we all take HD for granted, what does it actually mean and how can you tell if your smartphone is offering the performance you think it is?
What is HD?
To answer these questions, it is worth starting at the very beginning that HD stands for high definition and ultimately refers to the picture quality that a display offers. In order for a screen to meet the standard of HD, it generally has to offer a resolution of at least 720p – although the more common HD resolution you can expect these days is probably 1080p.
But just what do these numbers mean? Well, switching from phones and tablets to TV for a moment, Recombu outlines how televisions used to operate to a standard definition resolution of just 576. The emergence of HD now means that a much crisper and clearer image can be achieved with 720p offering more pixels of detail and 1080p going even further than that. Steps have even already been taken to boost definitions further, but we’ll examine that in greater detail later.
What about HD Ready?
Now you know what HD means, you probably think that enjoying the best image quality is now simply a case of looking out for the words ‘HD Ready’ when shopping for a device. Well, not necessarily.
For a long time now, devices from phones to TVs have carried the term ‘HD Ready’ and it is important to understand what this means in the wider context. HD Ready means a device is capable of handling a high definition signal, but not able to automatically produce content itself at that level. Confused?
Panasonic provides a useful explanation of this, although, again we will have to venture back into the TV world. According to the manufacturer, a HD Ready set can produce pictures generally up to 780p but does not have an inbuilt tuner to produce those images itself. Instead, it needs to operate alongside an external source.
The same rules may apply to some phones. While it may be able to display 720p images it may not be able to produce that content. Put simply, ‘HD Ready’ offers no guarantees that you’re accessing a top level of image quality.
Keeping it real
The key words you should look for when shopping for a device which guarantees all of the perks of HD are generally ‘Full HD’ or ‘Real HD’, which, for the most part, mean you can be assured that a device offers at least a 1080p resolution.
Saying that, it is worth bearing in mind that it is not uncommon to now see models go beyond that, with the likes of the LG G3 and the Samsung Galaxy S6 offering a resolution of 1440p.
The chances are though that, if you are buying a quality current model of smartphone or tablet from a leading manufacturer, you are almost certainly set to benefit from crisp HD.
A 4K future
Of course, technology continues to evolve and, with all of this talk of HD, it is important to note that a new term has grown in prominence in the last couple of years – UHD. Ultra high definition is on the rise and setting a new standard for image quality on a range of devices. In many cases, you may also see it referred to as 4K, as, on some phones or tablets, it can quadruple the 1080p full HD resolution to offer a new, incredible level of clarity.
A few smartphones have already taken the leap into the 4K world but, for many of us, that is an issue for another day. For now, HD is undoubtedly a core standard you should expect from your phone and hopefully this guide has set you on the way to better understanding what your device is capable of.