What Is SD? All You Need To Know About Standard Definition

Daniel Attoe
Daniel Attoe

Updated · Feb 07, 2023


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If you own a game console, TV, or Blu Ray device, you may have come across video format terms like SD, 720p, 4K, among others.

In this article, we’ll look at one of them. 

So, what is SD

How does it differ from the other popular video formats? 

Keep reading this short guide to find out.

What Is SD?

Standard definition (SD) is a term that describes the 480i and 576i video resolutions. They have been widely adopted in broadcasting since the early 2000s. 

480i is the format used for over-the-air broadcasts in NTSC countries (The US, Canada, Japan, and others). On the other hand, 576i is the standard in PAL (European and African countries, parts of Asia, etc.).

The standard definition video format has an aspect ratio of 4:3 in analog TVs and 10:7 in digital television.

It’s typically encoded with MPEG-2 video compression for compatibility with TV sets and other video playback equipment.

SD vs HD – What’s the Difference?

The main difference between standard and high definition is the resolution or number of pixels present on the screen. 

Standard-definition displays about 480 vertical lines of pixels. On the other hand, high-definition shows around 720 – also called an “enhanced definition” picture. 

The number of pixels in each row is also different between SD and HD video. In standard definition, the display holds 480 lines, each containing 720 pixels, compared to 720 (lines) x 1280 (pixels) in HD. The picture elements in standard resolution are smaller than those in high resolution.

For context, DVDs are usually in standard definition.

Another difference between the two is bandwidth usage. HD requires more of it than SD, meaning that high-definition content (e.g., Netflix or Blu-ray) needs to be delivered via a faster internet connection.

Wrap Up

SD is a term that describes video in which all signals are 480x720 pixels in number or less. We usually associate it with DVDs but can also find it on many digital broadcasts.

SD differs from HD in terms of lines and pixels. The standard definition resolution is 720 (pixels) x 480 (lines), compared to HD’s 1280x720. The result is a difference in detail with HD used to define higher quality video.


What does SD mean?

The meaning of SD is Standard Definition. It’s a video format in which all signals are 720x480 pixels in number or less. 

Is SD bad quality?

SD video usually has lower quality than HD. Its resolution is 720x480. Compared to HD’s 1280x720, it isn’t as crisp and detailed and is considered lower quality.

Can you watch SD on HD TV?

Yes, you can watch standard definition video on an HD TV. However, it’ll simply take the SD signal and display it on its screen. The quality of the picture depends on how good your HD TV’s upscaling technology is. 

Are DVDs HD or SD?

DVDs have standard definition because the picture they display contains less pixels than high-definition storage formats like Blue-ray.

For more information on what SD is, feel free to check out our full article.



Daniel Attoe

Daniel Attoe

Daniel is an Economics grad who fell in love with tech. His love for books and reading pushed him into picking up the pen - and keyboard. Also a data analyst, he's taking that leap into data science and machine learning. When not writing or studying, chances are that you'll catch him watching football or face-deep in an epic fantasy novel.

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