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 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 regards to pixels. This results in noticeable quality loss and the
image is much less sharp.
Some resolutions work well, however, if they are exact multiples of smaller image sizes.
For example, a 1600×1200 LCD will display an 800×600 image well, as each of the pixels in
the image will be represented by a block of four on the larger display, without interpolation.
Since 800×600 is an integer factor of 1600×1200, scaling will not adversely affect the image.
Because of native resolution, some people who play computer games refuse to use LCD monitors,
since the native resolution is so high that it may cause frame rate issues when playing a game.
The distortion that occurs when an LCD monitor displays lower than its native resolution can be
less noticeable during gameplay, especially if the user's graphics card supports anti-aliasing
or if the game involves a lot of movement.
Most LCD monitors are able to inform the PC of their native resolution using Extended display
identification data (EDID). However, some LCD TVs, especially those with 1366x768 pixels, fail
to provide their native resolution and only provide a set of lower resolutions, resulting in a
less than picture perfect output.
Some widescreen LCD monitors optionally display lower resolutions without scaling or stretching
an image, so that the image will always be in full sharpness, although it will not occupy the