Pixels – Full Ultra HD BD HDDVD Hi-Res 1080P 4K OMGWTFBBQ?!

We’ve heard it all before.  1080P.  4K.  Ultra High Resolution. Full HD.  What does it all mean?  These expressions define resolution.

What is resolution?  Resolution is the number of pixels, or spots of color/definition, on a screen.  The higher the resolution, the more pixels on screen.  A black and white pixel is defined as turning a screen section black/”on” or clear/”off”.  This can be seen on old Game Boys or other non-numeric digital displays.  A color pixel is usually defined by 3 colors, red yellow and cyan.  Any combination of brightness and selected color can make a near-infinite number of colors.  This is the kind of technology used on televisions, smart phones, and computer monitor screens.

So what do all these numbers mean?  When you look at a resolution list, you may see a long list of options ranging from 800×600 to 3840×2160 or even higher.  The first number in the pair is going to be how many lines of pixels there are going to be from left to right.  The second in the pair is going to be how many lines of pixels are going to be going up and down.  In the first example, the 800 represents 800 lines of pixels going across from left to right, and 600 represents 600 pixels going from top to bottom on your screen.  This equates to 480,000 visible pixels on the screen.  Take that in comparison to the higher number set we gave you earlier of 3840×2160 with its 8,294,400 pixels and you’ll see how it pales in comparison.

With higher resolution comes greater detail and sharpness.  This is because there are more pixels per sq inch.  If you squeeze more pixels into a single spot, the less you will notice any “block” effects caused by individual pixels.  It also gives you more visible room on your monitor for your applications and icons.  Most programs and images are designed with a certain “pixel height” meaning that your icon is designed to be 90 pixels high, for instance.  If you have a super high resolution monitor, those 90 pixels take up a lot less space than they would on a lower resolution monitor.  In the example above, a 90 pixel square icon would take up over 11% of the screen from left to right and 15% of the screen from top to bottom.  Compared to the 3840×2160, where that same icon would now take up 2.3% and 4.1%, respectfully.

Below is a list of common terms/marketing phrases and their associated resolutions:

640×480 – 480i, CRT TV resolution

800×600 – low resolution, default resolution, fail-safe resolution

1024×768 – recommended resolution, minimum resolution

1366×768 – 720P, 1080i

1600×900 – minimum widescreen LCD computer monitor resolution

1920×1080 – 1080P, Full HD, HD

3840×2160 – UHD, 4K

Below you can see a chart of all the resolution types available.

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