Resolution Is The Key To Success

14th February 2023

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Resolutions – Where size does matter

TFT displays are so much a part of our modern lives, from our Ultra HD televisions, down to the displays on our wrist watches and other wearable or portable equipment. Each display has 2 features which define its physical shape (aspect ratio) and clarity or sharpness of the displayed image. (Screen resolution is defined in pixels and calculated as width x height). This article looks back at how we got to the super high-resolution screens we now take for granted and how they relate to the displays used in the industrial sector. There is also a handy little aide memoir of names and sizes.

The personal computers first introduced in 70s & 80s were designed to use television receivers as their display devices. This meant that the available resolutions were dependent on the television standards in use at the time. Picture sizes were usually limited to ensure the visibility of all the pixels and the actual usable picture area was somewhat smaller than the whole screen.

One of the drawbacks of using a classic television was that the computer display resolution is higher than the TVs could decode. Many users upgraded to higher-quality televisions with S-Video or RGBI inputs that helped eliminate chroma blur and produce more legible displays.

Early computer manufacturers, like Commodore, Apple and Atari, developed interlacing techniques to boost the maximum vertical resolution, but these outputs were still only suitable for showing graphics rather than text, which suffered from flicker effects.

Video graphic array (VGA)

Resolutions graphic-01

IBM later introduced its own multi-colour, graphics chips (video graphics array or VGA) which provided a 640 x 480 x 16 colour resolution which was the standard for computer monitors from 1990 until around 1996. The Increased power of operating systems and applications led to increased demand on picture quality and size, which spawned the SVGA standard (typically 800 x 600 with 24 bit colour).


Resolutions graphic-02

Around 2002, 1024 x 768 (extended graphics array or XGA) became the de facto standard with many applications and websites being redesigned around this standard.

The development of lower cost TFT monitors made the 5∶4 aspect ratio resolution of 1280 × 1024 (SXGA) more popular for desktop usage during the latter part of the decade. CAD users, graphic artists and video game players were running their computers at 1600 × 1200 resolution (UXGA) or higher such as 2048 × 1536 (QXGA) if they had the necessary equipment. In recent years, the 16:9 aspect ratio has become more common in notebook displays and is now finding its way into industrial applications.

High-definition (HD)

Resolutions graphic-03

The main driver to this fast development has been consumer or mass market products, such as phones, TVs and monitors. The industrial sector has always had to piggyback off the developments from the glass manufacturers, but high quality colour TFT monitors are increasingly being used in applications like:

Medical Imaging – Need high resolution;

Industrial HMI – Historically used 4:3 ratio;

-Automotive – Widescreen aspect ratios for dashboard displays;

Drone monitoring – Increasing requirements for higher resolutions and wide screen aspect ratio, as reliant on the drones camera lens angle and aspect ratio

The table below is designed to provide a quick reference guide to names, sizes and aspect ratios of displays currently available in the industrial sector.

QQVGAQuarter Quarter Video Graphics Array160128
QVGAQuarter Video Graphics Array320240
WQVGAWide Quarter Video Graphics Array480272
HVGAHalf Video Graphics Array480320
VGAVideo Graphics Array640480
WVGAWide Video Graphics Array800480
SVGASuper Graphics Array800600
WSVGAWide Super Graphics Array1024600
XGAExtended Graphics Array1024768
SXGASuper Extended Graphics Array12801024
HDHigh Definition1280720
WXGAWide Extended Graphics Array1280800
UXGAUltra Extended Graphics Array16001200
WSXGAWide Super Extended Graphics Array16801050
FHDFull High-Definition19201080
WUXGAWide Ultra Extended Graphics Array19201200
UHDUltra High-Definition38402160

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