What is the Difference Between Standard Definition (SD) and High Definition (HD)?

UHD vs HD vs SD

UHD, HD, and SD all refer to different types of video formats. Video formats are often described in terms of their horizontal pixels x vertical pixels. For example, you’ll often see 1,280 x 720p, or just 720p for short.

Here’s a breakdown of these different formats, and how we handle them on the SproutVideo platform.

SD Video

A standard definition video loosely refers to any video that is not UHD or HD. SD videos are low quality, with lower bit rates and smaller file sizes. However, they are a good option for viewers on very slow internet connection speeds because the lower bit rate means they will stream more smoothly with less chance of buffering compared to higher quality videos.

A broadly accepted cut-off point for SD video is 480p, meaning any video with 480 vertical pixels or less is standard definition.

HD Video

A high definition video is a high quality video. It will look sharp and clear on the majority of screens.

Typically, HD refers to any video that is at least 720p, meaning any video with 720 vertical pixels or greater.

UHD Video

UHD stands for ultra-high definition. This video format is extremely high quality, and is suitable for display on very large screens.

UHD refers to 4K and 8K video, as well as any video format larger than that. For online video, 4K refers to any video that has at least 2,160 vertical pixels. Meanwhile, 8K video is any video that has at least 4,320 vertical pixels.

One complicating factor is that UHD formats are defined differently for different screens. On a UHD TV in your home, 4K content is typically streamed at 3,840 x 2,160p. This format will fill the screen, and look extremely sharp.

However, at the cinema, 4K is defined by the Digital Cinema Initiatives as having a horizontal resolution of 4,096 pixels, with no vertical resolution defined.

How This Works on the SproutVideo Platform

The higher quality you upload, the better quality your viewers will be able to enjoy. We cannot upgrade or improve the quality of your video files.

Depending on the resolution of the video you uploaded, we will encode your video in the following formats:

240p, 360p, 480p, 720p, 1080p, 2K, 4K and 8K.

For example, if you uploaded a 1080p video, we will encode it in every format listed from 240p up to 1080p. However, we won’t be able to create a 2K, 4K, or 8K version of that video.

To learn more about how this works, please refer to our Video Compression Guidelines to help ensure an optimal viewing experience for your audience.

High Definition compared to Standard Definition

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