Digital Specs Glossary of Terms

Posted on 20, March, 2023

Last Modified on 24, August, 2023

Are you in the market for digital signage or kiosks for interactive self-service? If so, it is important to understand the definitions of specs and features that help determine product appearance or performance. With so many technical terms and acronyms, it can be challenging to decipher and memorize what each spec means and how they are meaningful for your use and application of the device. We’ve assembled this glossary of digital spec terminology to provide a comprehensive yet accessible understanding of digital specs for many popular devices with an aim to help you better understand what they mean, how to interpret them, and how significant they may be in your final purchase decision.

Aspect Ratio Screen Size
Bluetooth Connectivity RAM
Contrast Ratio Refresh Rate (Hz)
HDD Resolution
IP Rating Response Time
Nits/Brightness Storage Capacity
Panel Type USB 2.0 & USB 3.0
Panel Life VESA Size
Pixel Pitch Viewing Angle
Power Consumption WiFi Connectivity

Aspect Ratio

Aspect ratio is the relationship between the width and height of a display screen or image. It is expressed as width to height (ex. 16:9 or 4:3). Aspect ratio can have a significant impact on how images are displayed on a screen. An image or video that does not match the aspect ratio of your display will either stretch to fill the screen, distorting the image, or display black bars or empty space on the top and bottom or sides of the image, not using the screen to its full capability.

Bluetooth Connectivity

Bluetooth is a short-range wireless technology that allows devices to connect to each other and exchange data over a secure, encrypted connection. Bluetooth technology is widely used for wireless audio, video, and image streaming. It is also used for file transfers, such as transferring photos or documents between two or more devices, or for controlling other devices such as kiosks, display screens, and more remotely.

Contrast Ratio

Contrast ratio refers to the difference between the darkest and brightest parts of an image that a display can produce. A high contrast ratio means that the display can produce deep blacks and bright whites, resulting in a more vivid and lifelike image. For example, a contrast ratio of 1000:1 means that the brightest white is 1000 times brighter than the darkest black and, in general, a contrast ratio of 1000:1 or higher is considered to be good for most applications.

HDD (Hard Disk Drive)

An HDD (Hard Disk Drive) is a type of storage device that uses spinning disks to store and retrieve digital data. Compared to SSDs, HDDs are generally slower and less reliable, as they are more susceptible to physical damage and mechanical failure. However, they tend to be less expensive than SSDs, making them a more affordable choice for many users who require large amounts of storage capacity.

IP Rating

IP Rating on a digital device is a rating of its ability to withstand certain elements such as intrusion of solid elements like dust and dirt and liquid elements like water or moisture. The first digit in the rating is the degree of protection from solid objects and the second digit indicates the degree of protection from liquid objects. The higher the number, the greater the level of protection. We think this downloadable IP Rating infographic will be helpful!


LED (light-emitting diode) and LCD (liquid crystal display) are two different panel technologies used in modern displays. While both technologies are commonly used in displays, there are some key differences between the two and how they affect peripherals. For example, most LCD panels are LED backlit, but Direct-View LED panels emit light themselves, which offers enticing performance for large format displays, even outdoors and from afar. Interested in learning more? Read a full description of the similarities and differences of LED and LCD.


In the context of displays, nits are used to measure the maximum brightness that a display can produce. Nits are defined as 1 nit is equal to 1 candela (candlepower) and displayed as cd/m^2. A higher nit rating indicates a brighter display, which can be beneficial for outdoor use or in bright environments where a dim display may be difficult to see. A typical laptop display may have a brightness of around 250-300 nits, while a high-end gaming monitor may have a brightness of 400-600 nits or more. Some displays, such as those designed for use in direct sunlight, may have nits ratings of 1000 nits or more.

Panel and Backlight Type

Panel type refers to the type of technology used to create the display and includes panels like TN, IPS, VA, and TFT which are variations of LCD panels, or direct-view LED. Each panel has different use cases depending on your need for quality, color, and response time.

Backlight type refers to the technology used that provides illumination for the display and most commonly uses LED technology. LED backlights typically come in direct and edge-lit. Direct lit extends LED across the whole screen while edge-lit only provides LEDs around the perimter of the display.

Panel Life

Panel life is the estimated lifespan of a display panel on a digital device when it is active. This affects how long a panel can last on a display and how often the panel or device needs to be replaced. Panel life is affected by factors such as quality of the panel and how the device is maintained and used. Because this is an estimate, your device could last longer than the estimated time, but you may experience degrading performance in image or pixel quality. Proper use and maintenance of your device should help to extend its lifespan.

Pixel Pitch

Pixel pitch is a measure of the distance between the center of two adjacent pixels, typically measured in millimeters (mm) and is important to determine the sharpness and clarity of an image. The smaller the pixel pitch, the closer together the pixels are and the sharper an image appears. Pixel pitch is especially used to describe LED displays and large format signage. When looking at a device's pixel pitch spec, consider the intended use case and viewing distance. A smaller pitch will be necessary for displays that will be viewed closely like a large screen in a studio while a large pitch may be suitable for a large display in a sports arena or concert venue.

Power Consumption

Power consumption is the amount of electrical power that a device uses while it is operating. This is typically measured in watts (W). Power consumption typically depends on the size of the device meaning larger devices will more than likely use more power than smaller ones. It is important to know your device's power consumption to ensure it can receive the recommended amount of power to operate at full capacity. Be sure to know how much power is required by your devices when using a power strip or surge protector as they typically have safety ratings on how much power they can safely handle.

Screen Size

Screen size refers to the physical dimensions of the display screen, typically measured diagonally in inches. The intended use of your screen should determine the screen size you are looking for. Generally, larger screens are preferred for viewing extensive multimedia content, while smaller screens are preferred for portability and ease of use.


RAM (Random Access Memory) capacity refers to the amount of memory that a computer or other electronic device has available for running programs and storing temporary data. RAM capacity is usually measured in gigabytes (GB) and determines how many programs and processes can be run simultaneously on the device without slowing it down or causing it to crash. The more RAM a device has, the more programs it can run simultaneously without slowing down.

Refresh Rate (Hz)

Refresh rate or Hertz (Hz) refers to the number of times per second that a device refreshes the image it displays. A higher refresh rate means that the display can update the image more quickly, resulting in smoother playback and reduced motion blur. Higher refresh rates are useful to display smoother looking videos with good clarity. Higher refresh rates also reduce eye strain especially when using a device for extended periods of time. Most devices have a standard refresh rate of 60Hz but digital devices can range all the way up to 360Hz.


Screen resolution refers to the number of pixels displayed on a screen. The higher the resolution, the more detail and clarity you can see on the screen. For example, a screen with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 (also called 1080p, Full HD, or FHD) has 1,920 pixels horizontally and 1,080 pixels vertically with 2,076,300 pixels total. Other popular resolutions are 2K (2560 x 1440), 4K (3840 x 2160), and even 8K (7680 x 4320). Screen resolution determines the sharpness and clarity of images and text displayed on a screen, in combination with screen size. Higher resolutions generally provide a better viewing experience but can also require more processing power.

Response Time

The response time on touch devices, such as tablets, kiosks, and smartphones refers to the time it takes for the device to recognize and respond to a touch input. This is usually measured in milliseconds (ms) and is a critical factor in the overall user experience of the device. A fast response time on a touch device means that the device can register and respond to touch inputs quickly and accurately, resulting in a more natural and responsive user experience. A response time of 10ms or less is considered to be good for most applications.

SSD (Solid State Drive)

An SSD (Solid State Drive) is a type of storage device that uses flash memory to store data, rather than spinning disks like traditional hard disk drives (HDDs). SSDs are much faster than HDDs because they have no moving parts and can access data much more quickly. They also consume less power and generate less heat, making them more efficient and reliable. SSDs are an ideal choice for devices that require shorter boot times and need to transfer data faster.

Storage Capacity

Storage capacity on a digital device refers to the amount of data that can be stored long-term on the device, including files, documents, images, videos, and applications. The storage capacity is typically measured in gigabytes (GB) or terabytes (TB) and varies depending on the device type and model. It's worth noting that there are different types of storage devices, including hard disk drives (HDDs), solid-state drives (SSDs), and cloud-based storage. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages in terms of storage capacity, speed, and reliability.

USB 2.0 & USB 3.0

The main difference between USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports is the speed of data transfer. USB 2.0 ports have a maximum transfer rate of 480 Mbps (megabits per second) and are suitable for connecting peripherals such as mice, keyboards, printers, and external hard drives. USB 3.0, on the other hand, has a maximum transfer rate of 5 Gbps (gigabits per second), which is more than ten times faster than USB 2.0, making it ideal for transferring large files, such as videos or backup data, between external hard drives or flash drives.


VESA Size is the standardized pattern of mounting holes on the back of a display, TV, or monitor that allow it to be mounted to a VESA-compatible stand or wall mount. Make sure that when purchasing a device with the intention of mounting it, that your VESA mount has the same compatible sizes as your display. For some more details on VESA standards, check out our article on the subject.

Viewing Angle

The viewing angle on a screen is the angle at which a viewer can still see the image displayed on the screen accurately without distortion or loss of color accuracy. A higher viewing angle means that you can display digital content to a wider angle of passersby and observers without interfering with the overall presentation of colors and imagery.

WiFi Connectivity

WiFi connectivity refers to the ability of a device to connect to a wireless local area network (WLAN) which allows devices to connect to the internet or to each other wirelessly, without the need for cables or physical connections.

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