I have a laptop, an HP Compaq nx6125, and according to this review ( http://www.cnet.com/laptops/hp-compaq-nx6125/4505-3121_... ) it has a "native resolution" of 1024x768 but a "max resolution" of 1400x1050. What is the difference? There are only 1024x768 pixels, right? (btw if you can exceed native resolution then I'm curious if I can get it to work in 1280x1024)
The native resolution of a LCD, LCoS or other flat panel display refers to its single fixed resolution. As an LCD display consists of a fixed raster, it cannot change resolution to match the signal being displayed as a CRT monitor can, meaning that optimal display quality can be reached only when the signal input matches the native resolution. An image where the number of pixels is the same as in the image source and where the pixels are perfectly aligned to the pixels in the source is said to be pixel perfect.
While CRT monitors can usually display images at various resolutions, an LCD monitor has to rely on interpolation (scaling of the image), which causes a loss of image quality. An LCD has to scale up a smaller image to fit into the area of the native resolution. This is the same principle as taking a smaller image in an image editing program and enlarging it; the smaller image loses its sharpness when it is expanded. This is especially problematic as most resolutions are in a 4:3 aspect ratio (640×480, 800×600, 1024×768, 1280×960, 1600×1200) but there are odd resolutions that are not, notably 1280×1024. If a user were to map 1024×768 to a 1280×1024 screen there would be distortion as well as some image errors, as there is not a one-to-one mapping with regard to pixels. This results in noticeable quality loss and the image is much less sharp.