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Definition: resolution

(1) See resolve and name resolution.

(2) The number of bits used to record the value of a sample in a digitized signal. See sampling.

(3) The degree of sharpness of a displayed or printed image. Resolution is defined as a matrix of "pixels" per inch.

Screen Pixels Per Inch
A screen resolution of 1920x1200 means 1,920 pixels horizontally across each of 1,200 lines, which run vertically from top to bottom. Very often, a third number is added to the specification to designate colors; for example, 1920x1200x64K indicates a setting of 64,000 colors. However, the third number may also be the refresh rate; for example, 1280x1024x60 means 1280x1024 pixels at 60Hz (refreshed 60 times per second). For a detailed list of all the resolutions used in monitors and TVs, see screen resolution. See also how to select a PC monitor.

Printed Dots Per Inch
For printers and scanners, resolution is expressed as the number of dots per linear inch. 300 dpi means 300x300, or 90,000 dots per square inch. Laser printers and plotters have resolutions from 300 to 1,200 dpi and more, whereas most display screens provide less than 100 dpi. That means jagged lines on screen may smooth out when they print. Scanners have both an optical (physical) resolution and an interpolated resolution, which is computed (see scanner). See lines of resolution and aspect ratio.

Common Screen Resolutions
These are some of the resolutions commonly found on monitors. The higher the resolution, the more information (pixels) can be displayed on screen at one time. For a complete list, see screen resolution.