What's all the jargon used to describe LCD displays?


What do all the WXGA, TFT, display types mean when they describe the display type on Lap Tops and which is the best and worst?

- Bob


This question was answered on February 26, 2004. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

As with all of the latest technologies, manufacturers are doing a great job of confusing consumers When it comes to today’s LCDs (Liquid Crystal Display) of any type (laptop or desktop) the resolution and aspect ratio are two of the main elements.

The WXGA and TFT specs are two completely different technologies

WXGA has to do with the ‘resolution’ (number of pixels displayed) and ‘aspect ratio’ (relationship of height and width).

TFT stands for ‘Thin Film Transistor’ (in the old days, it was called ‘active matrix’) and is today’s standard for how the images is displayed on virtually all flat panel and laptop displays.

Since TFT is pretty much going to be on everything that you are looking at, let’s concentrate on the various types of resolutions.

The current resolution standards include XGA, SXGA, SXGA , UXGA and QXGA Anytime you see a ‘W’ in front of any of these standards (such as WXGA) it refers to a wider version of the original (more on that later).

The standard on entry level laptops is XGA (eXtended Graphics Array) and has a rated resolution of 1,024 horizontal pixels by 768 vertical pixels.

SXGA or SuperXGA is a display that supports a resolution of 1280 horizontal pixels by 1024 vertical pixels

SXGA supports a resolution of 1400 horizontal pixels by 1050 vertical pixels

UXGA supports a resolution of 1600 horizontal pixels by 1200 vertical pixels and

QXGA supports a resolution of 2048 horizontal pixels by 1536 vertical pixels

Generally speaking, higher resolution is better, but there is one major issue with very high resolutions displays⬦everything is smaller on the screen.

Those that have a problem reading small text on the computer screen may actually have a more difficult time if they purchase a very high resolution display And if you purchase a high resolution display then run it at a lower resolution so that everything is bigger, you will be defeating the purpose of buying the more expensive display.

The standard ‘aspect ratios’ are 4:3 (traditional displays) and 16:10 (newer wide displays)

Anything that starts with ‘W’ is going to be a wider screen than traditional, displaying up to 30% mre information This is a great benefit to those that work on large spreadsheets (more cells displayed) or large graphics projects.

For standard word processing or e-mail, the only real benefit is that you might be able to squeeze two applications onto the screen, side by side.

There are lots of other more technical specs such as contrast ratio, megapixel rating (much like digital cameras) and viewing angle that are a little more difficult to discern, unless you are comparing two units, side by side so don’t get too caught up in them.

Which display type is best for you is determined by what you plan to do with the laptop and if you have any vision issues, just be careful not to overbuy when it comes to resolution and aspect ratio!

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Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on February 26, 2004