Consumers are faced with a range of features, functions and standards when buying a new computer monitor. They also need to decide if they want to go with a standard-definition, high-definition ready or full high-definition device. NITESH DEVANAND, Dell Consumer Product Specialist, at DCC sheds some light.
Standard definition, High Definition (HD) Ready or Full HD – what does it all mean and what’s the difference?
When it comes to buying a new flat-panel monitor, consumers are faced with a bewildering array of features, technologies, terminologies and price tags. Since they are likely to keep the new device for a number of years, there are a few salient points users should consider to ensure that their next buying purchase is an informed one.
High definition liquid crystal display (LCD) screens in the simplest terms are displays that offer much greater detail compared to standard definition delivered by cathode ray tube (CRT) computer monitors. Typically, a screen is made up of a grid of small dots or pixels that can be lit independently and set to a different colour to collectively form an image. The resolution or picture quality is much higher if there are more pixels or dots that make up the overall picture.
Standard definition consists of an image with 768 pixels wide by 576 pixels high with an aspect ratio of 4:3, whereas high definition is 1080 high by 1920 pixels wide with an aspect ratio of 16:9, filling out more of your field of view much like a movie theatre screen does. Depending on the design of the monitor, flat-screens are also available in resolutions, such as 1280 x 720, 1366 x 768 and 1024 x 768.
Some manufacturers offer monitors that are HD ready. This means that although the screen is not Full HD but with a resolution of 720p, it converts and displays images from Full HD (1080p) signal sources.
Choosing a monitor
On a standard 32-inch monitor, the difference between 720p and 1080p is hardly noticeable to the average user. The image quality and colour accuracy appear the same to the naked eye and a 720p resolution screen will suffice if it is used for standard computing and the occasional movie. However, with screens that are larger than 42-inches, the clarity of the image depends on the screen resolution and becomes a discerning feature.
Most large flat-panel screens today have a resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels, or 1080p, but getting the most out of Full HD depends largely on the source of the content you will be viewing. Today, digital broadcasters offer high definition television programmes and sports channels through dedicated stand-alone TV boxes. Additionally, Blu-ray players and movies of popular titles are widely available today that makes full use of the high definition video output and provides unsurpassed video quality for the movie aficionado.
Gaming devices, such as Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft’s XBox 360, all offer content in high-definition that when viewed on a full HD monitor allows for an immersive gaming or movie experience.
Essentially it is the input device, working in conjunction with the resolution capabilities of the monitor that is the most important. For the hardcore gamers, a dedicated graphics card usually compliments their desktop machines, which harnesses the full potential of what Full HD has to offer. Similarly, architects and graphic designers use advanced graphics cards in conjunction with dedicated applications and Full HD monitors to ensure that small details augment their drawings and computer aided designs.
For the consumer on a budget, HD Ready screens are sufficient and provides the same visual enjoyment if the screen size is under 42-inches. For larger screens, paying for Full HD is certainly recommended as the pixel difference is more visible. Thankfully, Full HD screens get cheaper every month and in the next few years will become the norm.