There are two important things to know about screen resolutions:
The higher the screen resolution, the smaller things appear. Think of high resolutions as “zooming out” and low resolutions as “zooming in”. The follow two pictures illustrate several common screen resolutions and how they appear in relation to each other:
Common Screen Resolutions for Full Screen Monitors:
Common Screen Resolutions for Wide Screen Monitors:
As you can see, the high screen resolutions can show a lot more on the screen than the low screen resolutions.
Many programs and websites are designed for screen resolutions of at least 1024 x 768. If your screen resolution is lower than 1024 x 768, some programs will be much more difficult to manage because you’ll have to scroll horizontally in order to see all of the menus. Some programs simply won’t show all of the menus if your screen resolution is too low, effectively making it so you can’t use all of the program’s features! Websites are like this as well. So even though 640 x 480 may seem like a good screen resolution for people with poor vision (because it looks like the monitor is zoomed in), it can also be bad in that it can make certain programs and websites difficult or impossible to use. It really just depends on what programs and websites the person uses. My recommendation for people with poor vision is to get at least a 22″ wide screen monitor and set the resolution to 1440 x 900. This way, programs and websites will look the way they should, but things will be big enough for people to not have to squint to see.
Want to know what your screen resolution is? Check out WhatIsMyScreenResolution.com.