Display resolution

The display resolution of a digital television or computer display is the number of pixels (or maximal image resolution) that can be displayed on the screen, usually given as a product of the number of columns (horizontal, "X") is always stated first and the number or rows (vertical, "Y") make up the aspect ratio.

For analog TV sets, the horizontal resolution is related to the bandwidth of the luminance signal, and is stated in "lines", as the largest number of alternating vertical black and white stripes that can be displayed across the width of the picture without them merging together. Sometimes, the lines are counted across a width equal to the height of the picture, rather than across the full width of the picture. This gives rise to two different measures of horizontal resolution, which can lead to confusion. The vertical resolution, as with digital displays, is the number of horizontal lines in the picture.

Currently 800×600 (SVGA, Super VGA), 1024×768 (XGA/XVGA, eXtended) and 1280×1024 (SXGA Super eXtended Graphics Array) are the most common display resoultions. Some computer users, especially CAD users and video game players, run their computers at 1600×1200 resolution (UXGA, Ultra-eXtended) or higher if they have the necessary equipment. When a computer display resolution is set that is too high for the display, some systems make the virtual screen scrollable over the physical screen. With digital television and HDTV, vertical resolutions of 720 or 1080 scan lines are typical.

The 640×480 resolution, introduced with the IBM PS/2 VGA and MCGA (multi-color) on-board graphics chips, was the standard resolution from 1990 to around 1996, partly due to its 4:3 ratio. 800×600 was the standard resolution until around 2000. Since then, 1024×768 has been the standard resolution. Many web sites and multimedia products are designed for this resolution. Most of today's computer games released during the "128-bit video game era", such as SimCity 4, do not support 640×480 at all. Windows XP desktop is designed to run at 800×600 minimum (although it is possible to select 640×480 in the Advanced Settings window, and an application is able to switch to any other mode).

With 15" and 17" monitors, 1024×768 resolution is the standard, and with 17" and 19" monitors, 1280×1024 is the recommended standard. Good 20" or 21" monitors are usually capable of 1600×1200 resolution. There are also widescreen monitors on the market of sizes greater than 23" that are able to display at least 1920×1200 pixels horizontally (capable of displaying HDTV).

Computer StandardResolution
CGA320×200 (16:10)
QVGA320×240 (4:3)
B&W Macintosh/Macintosh LC512×384 (4:3)
EGA640×350 (approx. 5:3)
VGA and MCGA640×480 (4:3)
HGC720×348 (60:29)
MDA720×350 (72:35)
Apple Lisa720×360 (2:1)
SVGA800×600 (4:3)
XGA1024×768 (4:3)
XGA+1152×864 (4:3)
WXGA1280×768 (15:9)
SXGA1280×1024 (5:4)
WXGA+1440×900 (16:10)
SXGA+1400×1050 (4:3)
WSXGA1600×1024 (25:16)
WSXGA+1680×1050 (16:10)
UXGA1600×1200 (4:3)
WUXGA1920×1200 (16:10)
QXGA2048×1536 (4:3)
WQXGA2560×1600 (16:10)
QSXGA2560×2048 (5:4)
WQSXGA3200×2048 (approx. 15.6:10)
QUXGA3200×2400 (4:3)
WQUXGA3840×2400 (16:10)
HSXGA5120×4096 (5:4)
WHSXGA6400×4096 (25:16)
HUXGA6400×4800 (4:3)
WHUXGA7680×4800 (16:10)
Analogue TV StandardResolution
PAL720×576 (5:4, though non-square pixels mean image dimensions are the usual 4:3)
PAL VHS320×576 (approx.)
NTSC720×480 (3:2, though non-square pixels mean image dimensions are the usual 4:3)
NTSC VHS320×482 (approx.)
Digital TV StandardResolution
NTSC (preferred format)648×486 (4:3)
D-1 NTSC720×486
D-1 NTSC (square pixels)720×540
D-1 PAL720×576 (5:4)
D-1 PAL (square pixels)768×576
HDTV 1080i1920×1080 (16:9)
HDTV 720p1280×720 (16:9)
EDTV 480p704×480
Digital Film StandardResolution
Academy standard2048×1536 (4:3)
DVD "NTSC"720×480 (3:2)
DVD "PAL"720×576 (5:4)

See also: computer display standardsde:Bildauflösung fr:Résolution d'écran he:רזולוציה pl:Rozdzielczość


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