Do We Need the HD in Mobile?

By Seow Tein Hee - on 20 Dec 2010, 10:16am

Smartphones with dual-core processors aren't just a rumour, speculation nor a wish-list anymore. It is becoming a reality when LG announced its LG Optimus 2X, which utilizes the NVIDIA Tegra 2 1GHz dual-core processors.

What is the potential of a dual-core processor in a smartphone? The given expectation is a smoother and more fluid experience. How about its practical implementation? That is where our focus is upon. By the end of 2010, we've seen mobile devices touting 720p video recording capabilities, and in a few cases, claims the ability to display HD content seamlessly either on its own display or through a HDMI connection to HD TVs.

Is it possible to break the 720p resolution, and perform 1080p video recording on smartphones? On the same track, will this also translate to 1080p videos being effortlessly rendered and displayed on your smartphones? That is where the money is being placed, on devices powered by NVIDIA Tegra 2.

Think about watching Tron Legacy in 1080p, limited by the small screen size on your mobile, like what you see here.

But let's take a step back and consider this - it is understandable for TVs with huge display sizes to compensate against pixilation with such high definitions standards. For smartphones with an average screen size of 3.5 to 4.0 inches, is there really a need for these high resolution videos? For us, a WVGA (480 x 800) resolution works just as well in terms of sharpness, clarity and details.

So what are the implications when manufacturers introduce 1080p video capabilities on smartphones? If we consider the pros and cons, here a few pointers:

1. Battery mileage - playing or recording 1080p videos ain't a walk in the park. The additional load on the processor, no matter the optimization, is straining and might have a drastic effect on its mileage. Like I've said, we need more battery power.

2. Storage – while it's fine and dandy that you have the option to watch 1080p movies at any given time with your mobile device, do you have the storage capacity to house it? A typical 1080p movie would run into the range of more than a few GB in capacity. If you aren't prepared with a high capacity microSD card, you'll be running low on space very soon.

3. Display – you might not enjoy an amazing visual experience with the small screen, but it's not an issue if the mobile device is accompanied with a HDMI output option. So in essence, your mobile device will become a portable storage device that hooks up to your HDTV with ease.

What really matters is what we use the smartphone for. Even with all the hardware advancements we've seen on the new generation of smartphones, for all the raw processing power and increased storage space to house your 1080p movies, it'll be a white elephant if you just keep to the basic cellular functions.

Do we need the HD in mobile? Personally, I'd rather bask in the beauty of 1080p in the comforts of my home, with a HDTV that has been on my Christmas wish list forever.

Seow Tein Hee

Seow Tein Hee / Former Associate Editor

Attuned to the latest mobile technology and news, Tein Hee is always on the lookout for innovation and creativity in the mobile industry.

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