HD vs. Full HD
High definition or HD displays are now the gold standard for image resolution, offering unparalleled picture quality, crispness, and clarity. However, the term "high definition" has evolved to refer to multiple image resolutions of increasing quality (and cost): HD, Full HD, Quad HD and Ultra HD/4K.
Most consumer-focused laptops and monitors sold today have HD or, more likely, FHD displays – the higher “Quad” and “Ultra” resolution options are found mostly in higher-end systems. But what, exactly, do the terms HD and FHD mean, and which resolution is right for you? Keep reading to learn more.
What is Full HD?
Full HD delivers 1080p image resolution and is the typical resolution for Blu-Ray discs, digital television, and most high-def videos found on YouTube, Hulu, and so on. Below Full HD is regular or standard HD with 720p resolution – not as good as Full HD but still far better than old-style laptops and monitors. [For more on the higher-resolution display options, visit “What is Quad HD?“ and “What is Ultra HD?”.]
The difference between the various screen resolutions is shown in this list:
- HD: 720p image resolution (1,280 x 720 pixels – approx. 1 million total)
- Full HD (FHD): 1080p image resolution (1,920 x 1,080 pixels – approx. 2 million total)
- Quad HD (QHD): 1440p image resolution (2,560 x 1,440 pixels – approx. 4 million total)
- Ultra HD (UHD)/4K: 2160p image resolution (3,840 x 2,160 pixels – approx. 8 million total)
The more pixels there are in an image, the better. Why? With more pixels, an image can be displayed at larger sizes without suffering picture degradation. So, a 14-inch laptop display with a Full HD/1080p image resolution will be clearer and shaper than a 14-inch display with a HD/720p image resolution.
What’s the difference between HD and 'HD Ready?’
While it’s not used much anymore, you may still encounter the term “HD Ready." It simply means that the display – typically an external monitor or television – is capable of displaying imagery at a high-def resolution if that’s what your computer, DVD player or cable system provides. “HD Ready” is largely a vestige from the days when HD systems were just coming out and consumers were shopping for display devices to match their new 1080p DVD players, etc.
Also, be aware that as standard HD becomes less common, the term HD is sometimes used interchangeably with Full HD. For clarity, know that while HD may refer to 720p or 1080p, Full HD can only refer to 1080p.