So, you just bought a new flat screen monitor. You get home, you unpack it, you connect the cables, you turn on your computer and you’re expecting to see a crystal clear picture but instead you’re presented with a blurred and fuzzy picture of your desktop – far from the quality you had expected.
The reason this is happening might be because your screen resolution is not set to your new flat screen monitor’s native resolution – fortunately this is very easy to fix…
What’s a native resolution?
Where CRT monitors (you know, the old bulky ones) were able to run several resolutions, a flat screen display (TFT LCD) is locked to one native resolution. This resolution differs from monitor to monitor and can be everything from 800 x 600, 1024 x 768, 1280 x 1024 to 2560 x 1600 where the first number represents the amount of horizontal pixels it can display and the second number represents the vertical pixels.
So, why is it blurred?
If your operating system is sending the wrong amount of pixels to your monitor, the monitor will usually try to make sure the picture fits the monitor. This means that if your operating system is set to run in a resolution of 800 x 600 and your flat screen display has a native resolution of 1024×768 it will stretch the pixels so it fills the entire screen thereby causing the image to become blurred.
How can it be fixed?
As stated previously fixing it is quite simple – all you have to do is find out what your monitor’s native screen resolution is and then ensure that your operating system is set to the same resolution.
To make it a bit easier for you I’ve made a quick step-by-step guide on how to do it in Windows XP:
- Find out what your monitor’s native resolution is. Usually you can find this information on the back of the display or in the manual that came with it. It should say something like “Resolution: 1440×900” (numbers might differ).
- If your monitor came with a driver CD I recommend you install the drivers and reboot your computer before proceeding.
- Once you’ve found your monitor’s native resolution and installed your monitor drivers (if you had any) you right-click on your desktop and select “Properties”.
- Click the “Settings” tab.
- Drag the “Screen Resolution” slider till you find the resolution that matches your monitor’s native resolution.
- Click “Apply” and wait for the monitor to switch resolution.
- Click “Yes” in the dialogue box if everything looks as it should.
If your screen turns black after you hit “Apply”, don’t worry – just wait 15 seconds and it will return to the previous selected resolution. Usually this happens if you have selected a resolution or a refresh rate that is too high, so try lowering either of these and see if it helps.
Analogue vs. digital
Many flat screen monitors come with both analogue (VGA) and digital (DVI) connectors and if you have the option of using a digital connector you can end up with a much crisper image quality than if you used an analogue connector. The analogue connector is usually coloured blue where the digital is white. If your monitor came with two cables, one with white connectors and one with blue connectors, you can be pretty sure your monitor supports digital input.
Not all video cards supports digital output though. If there are only blue connectors on the back of your video card you’ll only be able to use analogue output, but if you have a white connector, usually labelled DVI-I or DVI-D, I recommend you use that and connect it to the digital input of your monitor.
Auto calibrating your monitor
Most flat screen monitors come with an auto calibration feature that, as the name says, will try and calibrate your monitor for the best output possible. This feature is however only needed if you have connected your monitor using the analogue connector. Usually there’ll be a button labelled “Auto” on the front of your display for this, but in some cases you have to go into the on-screen display and find it. Look in the manual that came with your flat screen if you can’t find it.