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HD vs. SD: Is it worth paying more for HD Digital Videos?

High Definition (HD), vs. Standard Definition(SD).

The difference between standard and high definition images is simply the number of pixels in the image. HD images contain more pixels per square inch that standard definition videos. Ok, that’s fine. But what does it really mean?

This means that HD images can display more detail than SD images. This simple analogy should help you understand why.

Imagine that you are given a 3×5″ card and have been asked to draw a picture with a flower. One of two options are available to you: a crayon that is too big for preschoolers or a pencil with a sharp edge. The crayon will not allow you to draw as many details as you can with a pencil drawing. Also, the crayon draws a thicker line, and your card is only 3×5 inches in size. This is exactly like the difference between SD images and HD images: HD images show more detail than SD images because they “draw” the image with smaller and more pixels.

But don’t be discouraged! This example is very simple and aims to help clarify the distinction between HD and SD. The differences between HD and SD can be subtler in real life. Most people won’t notice the difference in HD quality most of the times.

Videophiles, Move On! There’s Nothing for You to See Here

Let me be clear: Video enthusiasts, those who used to love Laserdiscs and now have a home theater with equipment that looks like it belongs at NASA, are screaming at me right now that HD images are not only more noticeable but also crucial for enjoying any film.

They are loved by many. It is obvious. Some people won’t go back to consumer-grade speakers after spending a lot of money on high-end audio professional-grade speakers. But I am not one of those people, as are many of you. This post is for all of us, ordinary Joes and Janes who want to enjoy our TV and movies in peace with clear images.

Let’s face the facts: anyone over 40 who has had to use reading glasses for a while will know that there is a limit to the clarity we can expect when looking at the world around us.

So, let’s move on.

HD vs. HD: SD Is Wasted On An SD Screen

This pixels-per-square-inch thing comes into play on the device side, too. A device that can only display 720px per square inch will not be able to display 1080p images.

You don’t need an HD screen on your device to view digital videos.

HD vs. HD: SD Is Wasted On A Small Screen

As you probably know, digital cameras are more expensive than ever. The higher the “megapixel” setting will determine the quality of your digital images. This is because the higher the number of pixels, the more pixels per square inch. Higher resolution means more pixels per square inch. Higher resolution will result in finer detail. The human eye can’t see the extra pixels in high-def images if the image is too small.

Do you ever notice how you can sometimes see a thumbnail (or “thumbnail”) of an image online that appears quite clear but when you click on it, it will enlarge the image and make it fuzzy? This happens most often when the image is saved at a low resolution. Although the image may look fine when it is small, it will get worse if it becomes larger.

If you are looking at digital video on a smaller screen, you will not notice any loss in detail in standard definition videos. You also won’t notice an increase in fine details in HD videos.

But how small is the “Small Screen” when I say “Small Screen?”

I watched both the HD and SD versions of The Matrix, two movies that have a lot digital special effects, on my Kindle Fire HD 7″ screen and did not notice any differences.

The experiment was repeated on my HD 37″ diagonal TV set. I did not notice any difference. This is probably because, even though my TV’s image is larger, I am still at least 12 feet from the screen when I watch it. The TV is mounted on the wall so I don’t have much space in my living room. The farther I am from an image on TV, my computer or my phone, the less detail I will notice.

I think that the most obvious difference between SD/HD is on network and broadcast TV. When I watch the news, a sitcom, or a panel discussion, the difference between SD and HD is most noticeable. I am more focused on the content of the people than on whether I can count their freckles.

Let’s face it, if Blu-ray and HD had never been invented, we would have continued to watch DVDs with the same high quality image.

Do not forget how amazing we all thought DVD resolution was when DVDs first became a thing

If you’re old enough to have owned a movie on VHS (or even–GASP!–Betamax) and have replaced it with a new copy on DVD, you’d remember being blown away by the sheer clarity of the picture. It might even have been possible to say, “It’s almost as if I’m in the movie!” It almost feels like I’m in The Field of Dreams! Guess what? This image was taken at standard definition.

The DVD image quality is not something to be ashamed of, and we were perfectly content until HD device and video sellers started to make this clear.

HD isn’t doing the actors or the audience any favors

Before HD TV was invented, I believed Johnny Depp’s visage was as flawless and smooth as Limoges porcelain. When that bubble burst open, I was unhappy.

Every public figure and celebrity, no matter their beauty or stature, has an imperfection. HD does a great job of bringing out all the imperfections. This is why some TV shows have a slightly blurred focus or celebrities are getting collagen injections and facelifts.

Let’s conclude…

HD digital movies can cost anywhere from $2 to $5 more than their SD counterparts. HD digital TV shows can also be up to $20 per season, which can make it a difficult decision for budget-conscious consumers.

It’s not worth it for most people, for all of the reasons listed above.


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