Screen Resolution

 
Here’s a range of laptop screen sizes and the resolutions that are often displayed on the screen.
To give you an idea of how much you can see on the screen we include megapixel values for each screen size:
 

 

When looking at the video for a laptop there are three items to look over: the screen size, resolution and the graphics processor. For most people only the screen size and resolution are all that will really matter. The graphics processor really only tends to make a difference for those looking to possibly do some mobile gaming or high definition video. Pretty much all laptops use some form of backlit active matrix display to allow for bright fast displays capable of video playback.

Screen Size

Laptop screens have a wide range of sizes depending upon the type of laptop system that you are looking at. Larger screens provide an easier to view screen such as a desktop replacement. Ultraportables tend to have smaller screens allowing for a reduced size for increased portability. Many systems now offer a wide aspect ratio screen either for a more cinematic display or to reduce the size of the screen in the depth dimension for a smaller system size.

All screens sizes are given in a diagonal measurement. This is the measurement from the lower screen corner to the opposite upper corner of the screen. This will be the actual visible display area. Here is a chart of the average screen sizes for different style laptops:

  • Netbook: 12" or Less
  • Ultraportable: 13.3" or Less
  • Thin and Light: 14" to 16"
  • Desktop Replacement: 17" to 19"
  • Luggables: 20" and Higher

Resolution

Screen resolution or native resolution is the number of pixels on the display listed in the number across the screen by the number down the screen. Laptop displays look best when the graphics are run at this native resolution. While it is possible to run at a lower resolution, doing so creates either a reduced image on the screen with a black border or an extrapolated display. An extrapolated display tends to cause reduced image clarity as the system has to use multiple pixels to try and display how a single pixel would normally appear.

Higher native resolutions allow for a greater detail in the image and increased work space on the display. The drawback to high resolution displays is that fonts tend to be smaller and more difficult to read. This can be a particular drawback for people who have poor eyesight. It can be compensated by changing the font size in the operating system, but this can have unintended results in programs. Below is a chart of the various video acronyms that refer to resolutions:

  • WVGA: 800x480
  • SVGA: 800x600
  • WSVGA: 1024x600
  • XGA: 1024x768
  • WXGA: 1280x800 or 1366x768
  • SXGA: 1280x1024
  • SXGA+: 1400x1050
  • WXGA+: 1440x900
  • WSXGA+: 1680x1050
  • UXGA: 1600x1200
  • WUXGA: 1920x1200 or 1920x1080

Graphics Processor

In the past, graphics processors have not been much of an issue for consumer laptops. The majority of users were not doing much graphically that required 3D graphics or accelerated video. This has changed as more and more people use their laptops as their exclusive machine. Even if you don't plan on playing PC games, a graphics processor is still a necessary item if you intend to do high definition video playback either via stream, media file or Blu-ray. Most of the modern dedicated graphics processors can handle these but if you are looking to play 3D games, you will need to look towards higher end mobile graphics.