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Chapter 24. Refurbishing the Desktop > Changing the Screen Area and Color Depth - Pg. 290

Refurbishing the Desktop 290 Jargon Jar A video adapter is an internal circuit board that gets instructions about what to display from the processor, and then tells the monitor what to show on the screen. It's also known as the video card or graphics card. The Color quality group consists of a single list. The items in this list specify how many colors Windows XP can use to display stuff. This is called the color depth . Here are some notes: · In general, the more colors you use, the sharper your screen images appear. · If you're working with graphics, you'll want to use as many colors as possible. · On the other hand, if you find that your screen display is sluggish, you should consider reducing the number of colors. The Screen resolution slider determines the number of pixels used to display stuff on the screen. I've mentioned pixels before, but it's worth repeating myself here: A pixel is an individual pinpoint of light. All the colors you see are the result of thousands of these pixels getting turned on and set to display a specific hue. Windows Wisdom The Color quality list gives you a general setting (such as Medium or High) as well as a bit value (such as 16 bit or 24 bit). The deal here is that Windows XP uses a specified number of bits (on/off values) for each screen pixel (see my discussion of the Screen resolution setting that follows). The lowest number of bits is 8, and because 2 to the power of 8 is 256, that's the minimum number of colors you can choose. Other typical bit values are 16 (65,536 colors), and 24 (16,777,216 colors). There's also 32-bit color, but that's the same as 24- bit (the extra 8 bits are used by some applications for "masking" existing colors so that they appear transparent). The lowest screen area value is 800 by 600. This means that Windows XP uses pixels arranged in a grid that has 800 columns and 600 rows. That's nearly half a million pixels for your viewing pleas- ure! The number of higher screen area values you can pick depends on your monitor and on your video adapter. Here are some notes: