When deciding on a new laptop, computer monitor, tablet, smartphone or projector, you have to navigate a maze of sometimes quite confusing names and abbreviations.
In a lot of cases, those abbreviations even share letters. It’s important to understand what those mean and how they relate to the display you’re going to get.
Two common types of displays are HD and QHD. HD displays have a resolution of 1280×720, while QHD displays have a resolution of 2560×1440.
What Is HD?
High Definition, or HD, displays, have a resolution of 1280×720 and take their name from High Definition Television. HD displays offer twice the horizontal resolution and 1.5 times more vertical resolution compared to VGA/NTSC displays.
HD displays became common in the early days of HDTV, when most broadcasts were limited to 720p video.
HD vs Full HD
The next step up in resolution from HD, displays that support Full HD have a resolution of 1920×1080.
That offers three times more horizontal resolution and more than twice the vertical resolution offered by VGA/NTSC.
What Is QHD?
A QHD, or Quad High Definition, display has a resolution of 2560×1440, which is four times the resolution of a High Definition display. They first began to appear in the mid-2000s as the next step up, and gained in popularity as a less expensive alternative to a 4K monitor.
QHD, also sometimes referred to as WQHD, has also become a common standard in the gaming world. The Xbox Series S can support QHD resolution at 120 frames per second, for example.
Other uses of QHD
While there are some resolutions that have pretty standardized names, that isn’t always the case. For example, more than one resolution is referred to as QHD. The name usually refers to 2560×1440 displays, but not always. Displays with a resolution of 3200×1800 are called QHD+ or sometimes simply QHD, as well.
The QHD+ comes from the fact that it has four times the resolution of an HD+ display, which is 1600×900.
How Extra Resolution Helps
Everyone already has a pretty good understanding of the difference in clarity and resolution between Standard Definition and High Definition video. You can see more detail and motion can appear more realistic and lifelike.
In the case of a display, there are a few ways that having a higher resolution can be helpful.
More Screen Space
The first and most obvious benefit is that the higher resolution a screen, the more things can fit on it — within reason, of course.
Because there are four times as many pixels in a QHD display, things can be rendered smaller and with as much or more detail.
Better Pixel Density
One of the reasons images can look better on a higher resolution screen is because there are more pixels per inch. The more densely packed pixels are, the more realistic and lifelike a photo or video can appear.
To show how much this can affect things, imagine three laptops, each with 14” screens. The first laptop has an HD display with a resolution of 1280×720 and a pixel density of 104 pixels per inch.
The second has a Full HD display with a 1920×1080 resolution, and its pixel density checks in at 157 pixels per inch. The final has a QHD display with a resolution of 2560×1440.
Its pixel density is 209 pixels per inch.
Higher density displays are excellent for photo and video editing, because they allow a higher resolution version of the image or video to be displayed while still leaving room for the user interface.
Choosing Between HD vs QHD
Now that you understand the difference between HD and QHD resolutions, you might wonder why you should choose one over the other. Generally speaking, you should go for higher resolution laptops and monitors, and with Full HD monitors being quite inexpensive, you should avoid HD monitors and laptops.
There is a place where choosing HD might make as much or more sense. That’s when it comes to home theater projectors.
If you’re planning to leave a projector in one place, then going for a larger, higher resolution projector can make sense. If you move your projector regularly or if you travel with it, then HD might make sense.
There are a number of reasonably priced, highly portable HD resolution projectors on the market.
The next step above QHD, which is sometimes also referred to as 2K, is UHD 4K, which has a resolution of 3840×2160. That is four times the resolution of Full HD, about the same relationship as QHD to HD.
In the QHD or 2K display realm, you can also consider UWQHD, also sometimes just called WQHD, which has an aspect ratio of 21:9 and a resolution of 3440×1440. That offers a view about a third wider that QHD.
Another ultrawide option is UWQHD+, sometimes also called WQHD+ or even UW4K. It also has a 21:9 aspect ratio, with a resolution of 3840×1600.