Friday, February 8, 2008

A Bit About Resolution

It's that time of year again: review the resolution you made one month ago and decide whether or not it's really "sticking." Maybe it's time to resolve to resolve your resolution. Stick with it!

No, not that kind of resolution.

I'm talking about monitor resolution. It's a misunderstood concept and I cringe when I hear ramblings about screen size. Here's the basic scoop in my own words and a link to get more info from people smarter than me.

Display resolution means how many pixels there are on a screen
Pixels? Dots, that is. The more dots, the more stuff can be packed on the screen. Suppose you have a matrix nine dots wide and nine dots high. Suppose that same matrix were 1 inch square. Now suppose that you could shrink that matrix down to 1/10 of an inch. Well, you'd get 10 of those 9 x 9 matrices in an inch now. So it is with resolution - the higher the resolution, the more stuff on the screen.

Resolution has nothing to do with screen size
Okay, that's confusing I know. Sure, the larger the screen, the easier (and therefore cheaper to manufacture) it is to fit more pixels on the screen. But, there's no proportion that must be followed. In other words, a 17" monitor can run at 1024 x 768 or at 1280 x 1024 or even 1600 x 1200 if the manufacturers chose to make it so.

TV's run a really low resolutions.
Did you know that standard TV signals are only 320 x 240 pixels? Geez - that's really not much at all considering a "standard" monitor is 1280 x 1024 these days. High definition TV is a lot higher resolution than that, but your 17" LCD flat panel is higher resolution than your 52" LCD TV! By the definitions above, you'll fit less stuff on the TV than on your "tiny" monitor!

In other words, monitors have a specific purpose, as do TV's. Monitors use different signals and such and they're designed to display different types of information than TV's. As such, they have different capabilities.

Now you know a bit more about resolutions.

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