Everyone wants amazing video quality, but do you really know what screen resolution is and what the numbers mean? While resolution really matters, choosing the right display, monitor, or TV means knowing how to pick the best one for your needs.
1. What is screen resolution?
First, let’s set the screen resolution. A computer screen uses millions of pixels to display images. These pixels are arranged in a grid horizontally and vertically. The number of pixels horizontally and vertically is shown as the screen resolution.
Screen resolution is typically written as 1024 x 768 (or 1366 x 768 or 1920 x 1080). This means that the screen has 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.
If you don’t know what your screen resolution is, you can find it with this free tool.
2. Screen size and screen resolution
In addition to resolution, screen size is another factor to consider. Screen size is the physical measurement of the diagonal of your screen. Screen size is measured in inches – for example 5 “, 10”, 13 “, 17”, etc.
Screen size and screen resolution are not directly related. For example, you can have a 10.6 inch tablet with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and a 24 inch desktop monitor with the same resolution. Since the resolution of both devices is the same, they will be able to display the exact same image (in terms of pixel count) – it’s just that the image on the computer screen will look much larger due to larger physical dimensions of the monitor.
However, the larger image will also be more blurry because the distance between the dots is greater (that is, the pixel density, measured in pixels per inch (ppi), is lower).
Likewise, two monitors of the same physical size can have different resolutions. In this case, the monitor with the higher resolution will be able to fit more on one screen. The images will be smaller but sharper because the distance between the pixels will be shorter.
3. How does screen resolution affect you?
If you’ve followed this far, you’ve probably come to the conclusion that when it comes to screen resolution, the bigger the better. This is not necessarily the case.
With two screens of the same size, the screen with the higher resolution shows more and there is less scrolling. In addition, the image is sharper.
However, the tradeoff is that the image will also be smaller. This tires your eyes, and in extreme cases, you may need to zoom in the image to be able to see it properly. This actually causes you to see less on the screen and use a lower resolution. What’s the point of getting a device with a higher resolution when you can’t use it effectively?
This is especially true for smartphones, tablets and other small devices. It’s also something we’ve talked about before – if your phone needs a 4K display.
You might be thinking that even if you don’t desperately need super high resolution, since it’s available, why not get it. There are a few reasons.
The first is money. Super high resolution displays cost more, regardless of screen size.
The second reason is technical. Higher resolutions require more resources. If you set your screen refresh rate to 60Hz, your video card refreshes the image 60 times per second. For most people, 60Hz is low, and they would go for 120Hz or 144Hz, if possible. The higher the resolution, the higher the voltage on the video card. Indeed, each pixel of the screen is refreshing at the same time. More pixels equals higher stress.
While 1920 x 1080 x 60FPS is fine even for low-end video cards, higher resolutions and refresh rates pose a challenge even for high-end cards.
4. Do you need HD, 4K, etc.?
Apart from the numbers themselves, now you also need to factor in things like HD and 4K. The great shift from analog to digital television shows the difference in clarity with HD or high definition. With HD, you automatically get a 16: 9 aspect ratio, much like a movie theater, as well as resolutions of 720p (1280 x 720) and 1080p (1920 x 1080). Less common is 1080i, which divides the resolution into two groups of 540 lines each. All of this means that you get a much sharper image.
But then 4K was introduced. These screens are designed to show even more detail by having a much higher resolution, which ranges between 3840 x 2160 and 4096 x 2160. They are ideal for the fine details that accompany games and movies. However, there’s no point in going for 4K resolutions unless you have games and videos designed for it. Only a handful of games and movies are available in 4K.
For now, HD is sufficient for most users and has become the norm for modern displays, from mobile devices to big screen TVs. A 1080p HD display gives you incredible clarity and quality for a fairly affordable price. 4K costs more but is significantly better if you have compatible content. Otherwise, you’ll just see HD quality on a 4K screen.
What screen resolution should you choose? For small devices, like phones, you don’t need the best quality available because it’s a smaller screen. Save your money and avoid 4K phones. But if you want a major cinematic experience, higher resolution for a larger computer screen or TV is definitely worth it.
Interested in 4K? Find the best 4K gaming TVs to transform your gaming experience.
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