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What Resolution is Good For an LCD Monitor?

A TechLore "Ask the Experts" Question...

Question:

Is this resolution good / bad / better / worse, etc.

800 x 600 Maximum Monitor Resolution.

Relating to a LCD TV / pc monitor?

-submitted by uma

Answer:

Determining what resolutions are good and bad is not always the easiest thing to do, since resolution alone means different things for different applications.

Resolution simply defined, is how much detail a display is capable of showing you. In the computer world, higher resolutions will yield more desktop space, and better detail for games. On TVs, the higher the resolution, the more detail your TV images will show. However, deciding if it's good or bad takes a little bit more of an explanation.

Computer LCDs

800x600 isn't a bad resolution for a computer screen, depending on what you're doing. If you're just going to do a bit of web surfing, many sites are optimized for an 800x600 setting, meaning that in an expanded window, those sites will fit best when they take up your entire screen, and shouldn't require any side-to-side scrolling.

Although it's okay today, newer sites (including TechLore) have optimized for a display setting of 1024x768, which is quickly becoming the most common computer resolution. While this is the most common, many users like myself run their desktops at 1280x1024, which allows more real estate to have more windows open simultaneously.

Don't get me wrong, in the computer world you can get resolutions that are simply too high for normal use. Some widescreen monitors have a resolution of 1920x1200, which is extremely high. At this size things like text, icons, and other visuals become nearly too small to see. While it's great for things like high-res photo editing and CAD work, it's currently a bit high for the home user.

Many advaned users will say you can buy a high-res monitor and scale low resolutions to fit, which is true. If you had a 1280x1024 monitor, you can still run an 800x600 desktop at full screen, but you'll take an image quality hit whenever you do that. LCD monitors look best when run at their native resolution.

If looking for a new LCD computer monitor I'd recommend 1024x768, or 1280x1024. For widescreen, 1280x800 or a little higher should be just fine.

LCD TVs

Resolution for LCD TVs is a little different than shopping for a computer, unless you plan to use it for both. If that's the case, use the guidelines for PC resolution. If shopping just for a LCD TV, follow the guidelines below.

TVs and Computers are different. On a computer, you'll find that resolutions will vary depending on what you're doing. Playing a game, web surfing, and photo editing all have different specified resolutions. TVs don't.

Analog television has a fixed resolution of 480i. In that respect, a LCD TV that has a resolution of 640x480 is more than adequate for analog TV viewing. If you want to get into high-definition, you'll find widescreen LCD TVs with resoultions like 1280x720, 1280x768, and so on. All of which are fine for HDTV use.

Though resolution is important, a good LCD TV will have good black level, color fidelity, and excellent scaling. So while you should check the resolution, examine those other parts of the display that can be even more important than resolution.

If you have follow up questions, please use the discussion page below.

Matt Whitlock Editor - TechLore.com

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