Comments on How many pixels do you need


The C64’s resolution was a bit more complicated than that. It was 320×200 in hi-res mode (2 colors per 8×8 square) and 160×200 in multicolor mode (4 colors per 4×8 square, where 2 of those colors are shared across the whole screen without any special tricks), but it was actually possible to extend the screen space into the overscan area giving a higher effective resolution. The equivalent video modes on the IBM PC were 640×200 mono and 320×200 4-color, respectively, although of course the C64 had way more capabilities.

Its predecessor (the VIC-20) was pretty bizarre by today’s standards, although loosely speaking it’s 176×184 (with very wide pixels).

Also it’s worth considering that the Nintendo DS screens are each 256×192, and the GBA screen is 240×160.

-- fluffy 2017-10-11 06:57 UTC

When you’re looking at older machines, you do have to remember that most used composite video designed to be suitable for display with televisions in lieu of a monitor. Because composite is an analog rather than digital display technology, the pixels blended together smoothly rather than appearing as a series of jagged, separate entities. That’s why these machines could get away with such seemingly absurdly low resolutions. It’s also the main reason that screens that used to look spectacular on the original hardware often don’t look so great on an emulator.

-- Jimmy Maher 2017-10-11 06:58 UTC

Thank you for the additions, fluffy. My selection was somewhat arbitrary. Never actually owned a C64, either.

And that’s an interesting point, Jimmy. It was a natural form of anti-aliasing, I guess, and small displays need that the most. Come to think of it, there is at least one modern Spectrum emulator (fbzx) that offers the option to simulate a TV screen’s fuzziness. But the original Game Boy had an LCD in the first place. No such advantage there!

-- Felix 2017-10-11 06:58 UTC

“But the original Game Boy had an LCD in the first place. No such advantage there!”

Yes, but the Gameboy has a tiny screen, and that’s a different sort of advantage all its own. 😉

-- Jimmy Maher 2017-10-11 06:58 UTC