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My Brand New HD Monitor is Blurry! Check your native resolution.

Rich Keller - Sunday, November 14, 2010
With the ever increasing native resolution on common LCD's and TV's, there is some confusion about native resolution. What exactly is the difference between the common wide screen resolutions readily available today?

In a nutshell, resolution is counted by pixels, so a 1440x900 display is physically 1440 rows of pixels wide, by 900 rows of pixels high. Think of it as a huge grid in the old game called battleship! Making sure you are "in native resolution" is when your computer is sending the correct pixel X pixel resolution to the monitor. Some people buy a brand new HD display only to complain about the jagged text, or blurry pixels. Is the monitor broken? Not likely. It's probably just displaying a non native resolution.

So going back to the Battleship grid idea, imagine your LCD screen is only a 10x10 pixel grid, now if you set the computer to desktop 10x10 pixels, you would have a clean and precise pixel per pixel display. If you were to set your desktop to an 8x8 grid, the 8x8 grid would have to stretch and create a sort of musical chairs for the pixels to be displayed on the 10x10 griid. You will run into pixels being spread across too many spots causing pixels to jump and mis-align themselves trying to place them selves correctly over too many pixel spots. Now ramp that up into todays common resolutions of 1440x900 grids and you will see that having your desktop set to a resolution of 1024x768 stretched to display on a screen with a native  resolution of 1440x900, you can understand why the picture can become blurry and jagged. Newer monitors are getting better to help this situation by helping to correctly display lower resolutions on higher native resolutions, but there is nothing clearer and crisper than an LCD displaying its native resolution. If you do any sort of graphic design or lengthy text editing and reading but are not set to native resolution, I would bet a dollar you suffer from headaches after using your computer for any period of time.

Here is an example of various popular native resolutions, you can see that if we could overlay each resolution over a 10 megapixel picture, at native resolution, this is how much of the image you could see, pixel per pixel being equal.

This is the reason many graphic professionals  and content creators require larger resolution screens to accommodate viewing images 1:1 while still keeping all their photoshop editing panels open. This applies to computer use, and to a lesser degree tv and movie watching. Its not really about inches, as you can get a 1080p lcd in sizes from 15"-60" inch wide screens. They all only display the same native resolution of 1920x1080 pixels.

Kind regards,

Rich Keller
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