Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Resolution and DPI

lcd_amResolution vs. DPI

Resolution is a rather old term that is used to describe the level of detail of an image, or the capability of a capturing device. A high resolution image will contain a lot of details, and you can figure out the elements in the image, while a low resolution image will often be blurry, and the elements in the image are hard to figure out. DPI stands for Dots per Inch; a unit of measurement. This is one way of quantifying the resolution of an image. This counts how many distinct dots you can squeeze into an inch, with higher numbers meaning smaller dots and a better resolution. Each dot can be a different color than the one beside it. So with smaller dots, the image will look finer, as the eye blends these colors together. The bigger dots, in a low DPI image, can sometimes be distinguished by the eye, leading to a pixilated look.

As resolution is a rather general term, it is used in a lot of fields and products that are involved in imaging. Displays like TV sets, and computer monitors, have a resolution, and so do still cameras and video camcorders. For those devices, they use a different unit of measurement for resolution, called PPI, or pixels per inch. DPI is used strictly for digital printing, where huge numbers of ink droplets are sprayed on the paper to form the desired image. Although most photo editing methods use DPI to describe how big the picture is, this is a misnomer, as they mean to describe the number of pixels in an inch, or PPI.

The funny thing about resolution is, it does not easily translate across different types of devices. Printing an image with 72PPI resolution will need a much higher DPI printer, unless you want to end up with a blocky image. Although it seems like this can be a problem for most users, the processing is done internally, and most printers have a default DPI setting that is set high enough to create a good image every time.


1. Resolution is a general term that is used to describe the detail level of an image, while DPI is a unit of measurement used to quantify resolution.

2. The term resolution can be used in a wide variety of circumstances, while DPI is largely used in digital printing technologies.

3. Resolution for display devices do not match with the DPI for printers.

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