Displays explained: how to select the best display (10 things)

displays explained.

displays explained

One of the most important deciding factors when buying a device is its display. whether it may be a laptop, mobile phone or a monitor for your gaming rig is the display. display technology has evolved, We have come from old bulky CRT monitors to gorgeous 8k AMOLED displays. But what exactly are these 4K or AMOLED panels? Let’s dive right in to find out with this comprehensive display buying guide.

how does a display work?

The basic principle behind all types of displays is the same. Every display consists of a matrix/grid of pixels that can be illuminated from red, green and blue or a combination of them. When a large number of them are closely packed together, we can see pictures and videos rather than individual pixels. As The number of pixels per inch (pixel density) increases the quality of the image also increases as it becomes harder for us to see individual pixels. However, on increasing it more. the improvement in pixel density and the quality becomes less obvious.

A balance is needed in resolution as these gadgets require more power as more pixels are to be rendered. the exact specifications needed for a display of your next laptop might vary significantly, depending on your budget and needs. Now let’s look closer at different terminologies commonly used in explaining displays quality. They are sorted in the increasing order of priority.



The size of the display (commonly measured in inches) is the diagonal length of the display. A 6.7-inch display implies that when measured diagonally, it would measure 6.7 inches or about 17 cm. the display size, along with the aspect ratio decides the dimensions of your display. the appropriate size is crucial as the display is too small or too large can make it useless. with that said, here is an optimal configuration for a display and along with the budget.

Note: the actual area to use is approximately squarely dependent on the diagonal length. I.e., a 10-inch display has four times the area of a 5-inch display (in 1:1 aspect ratio)

2. Resolution

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This is one of the most important attributes of Any display. The resolution of a display means the number of pixels in its panel.

For example, a display of resolution 720*1200 means the display consists of a matrix of 720*1200 pixels, i.e. 864,000 individual pixels. As resolution increases, the pixel density increases and the quality of the content. However, the increase in resolution means higher processing power and hence more drain on the battery.

another thing to note is that the perceived quality also depends on the distance from which we are using it. For example, a typical phone is held around 25 cm from the eyes and a laptop about 60 cm. so although pixel density in a laptop is very low when compared to a phone. It has much more definition to it. A 100 PPI display would be just fine on a laptop (a 15.6-inch 720p laptops have around 100PPi) but would be Pixelated and unusable in a mobile phone despite its much smaller size.

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Note: a typical 1080p panel has 2.25 times the pixels in a 720p panel, and hence more than 2 times the work to update each frame. That is why changing the resolution in games improves the FPS drastically, and older iPhones work smoother than androids [iPhone 7 had a 356 PPI 720p panel and galaxy s7 had a 577 PPI 1440p panel (along with many other reasons.)

3.Aspect ratio

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It is the ratio of the length and width of the display. It is denoted as (length: breadth). as the aspect ratio increases the display becomes more longer.no single aspect ratio can be referred to as the perfect aspect ratio as different needs are better with different aspect ratios. The most common aspect ratio in monitors and old mobile phones is 16:9. Newer mobile phone uses longer displays (18:9 – 22:9).

4.refresh rate

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This denotes the number of times the content of the screen gets refreshed. A minimum of 15 frames should be changed in a second for the content to appear as a video (retention of vision is 1/14th of a second). And any frames above this threshold value increase the smoothness of the video/animation. Most consoles including the PlayStation and Xbox use a framerate of 30 for games in their consoles, and PCs and mobile phones used 60Hz, until recently and now mobiles have as much as 144Hz and monitors with 360 Hz panels.

Note: the increase in smoothness between 120 Hz and 60 Hz is very much larger than between 240 and 120, just like in the case of resolution.

 5.screen to body ratio

screen to body ratio

It is the ratio between the usable screen area and the total front area of the display. As the Bessel gets thinner, we get more immersion and display area. old CRT monitors, phones, etc had big thick Bessel and a screen to body ratio below 60 per cent. as the Bessel got thinner around the display in all these devices, now we have monitors with more than 90 per cent screen-to-body ratio.

6.Pixel density(PPI)

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PPI, commonly called pixel density is the number of pixels per inch of the display. As pixel density increases, the crispness of the image increases. Mobile phones have a PPI of around 300-550 PPI but exceptions arise now and then such as the Xperia one with a 4K 5.5 Inch display and 810 PPI. As laptops and monitors are to be viewed from a longer distance, they usually have less density.

7.Touch response rate

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It is the number of times the display registers new touches per second. Phones with lower touch response time can detect touches faster and register them, which creates an advantage over other players, especially in esports. This is also measured in hertz. Each time a touch registers again render the next frame itself with the new data so that the experience of using the phone will be much faster. phones such as the ROG Phone 2 comes with touch sampling rates as fast as 240 hertz.


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normal displays in electronic gadgets emit their own light, unlike e-ink displays. the power of illuminations is a very important factor which resides in its usability in outdoor conditions, to produce accurate and differentiable colours etc. moreover, the full improvements with HDR technology can only be achieved when the panel can exceed a certain brightness level. usually, the brightness level is measured in nits. and it varies from 200 in cheap laptops to about 1600 in high-end Android phones like the Samsung galaxy s21 ultra.

this is especially important for tv-displays as the viewing experience will be ruined in spite of any other feature if sufficient brightness is not produced. in indoor conditions, a brightness of about 40 nits is enough to comfortably use the device whereas in harsh backlights such as sunlight when using the phone outdoors, brightness above 100 nits might be required.

note: we do not perceive brightness linearly, and 500 nits don’t appear 2 times as bright as a 250 nits panel. but they use twice the amount of energy, therefore leaving the brightness level automatic in mobile phones van improve battery life notably.

9.colour depth

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It is the number of colours that can be produced on a display. It is expressed in bits. For example, consoles and consumer devices from the 1990s used 4 bits to 8bits displays and could reproduce 16-256 colours. Modern displays all use 24-bit colours (8bit for each of red, green and blue) and they are commonly called 8-bit displays. They can produce more than 16 million colours. Lately, 10-bit displays are also becoming popular, and as the name suggests, uses 10 bits for each colour and a total of 30 bits-and they can produce more than a billion colours.

But because of the fact that humans can only see around 10-million colours, just buying a good display with a wider colour gamut is enough. the whole 10-bit display fuss is mostly a gimmick for normal users.

10.Colour gamut

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Even though most displays are 8 bit and can support up to 16 million colours, not all of them can reproduce the colours that can be viewed by humans. Most of the displays can reproduce a section of the total colour space we can see. To grade displays according to their effective reproducing capacity, the entire colour gamut is divided into many small parts such as DCI-P3, NTSC, Adobe RGB, SRGB etc. all of these colour spaces cover different portions of the total colour space.

Displays used by artists, professional video editors etc need to be colour accurate (the colour we see should be the same as the one being saved), and they often favour panels with full sRGB/DCI-P3 coverage. As for normal usage, these colour changes are negligible, most of the laptops below 80k come with panels with about 60%sRGB coverage.

Check out how processors work here

Hope you enjoyed it.. Don’t forget to comment and let me know if I made any mistakes. This post is to give you a rough idea, but when actually buying a device, all these factors weigh different. if you have any doubts regarding these, connect with us

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