Pixel Definition & Meaning

Pixel, short for picture element, is the smallest unit in a graphic display or digital image. Computer displays are made up of a grid of pixels. Each pixel is made up of red, blue, and green lighting elements that are used in different combinations and intensities to make millions of different colors.

How do pixels work?

Pixels are the vehicle for transforming binary code data into an image on a screen. Each pixel in an RGB monitor is sent a piece of code that tells it how to display a certain color. Because each pixel has red, green, and blue lighting elements, the code is made up of a triplet of eight-digit numbers written in binary code. This tells each of the three color elements at what intensity to display, and when all three colors are combined, they display the desired color. Each pixel displays one color, and the colors together make an image.

Resolution vs. pixel density

When talking about image or screen quality, the term resolution is often used. Screen resolution can be defined as the number of pixels on a screen. For example, a 13-inch Macbook Air has a resolution of 2560 x 1600, which means that the screen is made up of over 4,000,000 pixels. The higher the resolution, the higher the image quality.

While the resolution is important to consider when measuring screen quality, it is also important to consider the pixel density. Pixel density is either measured in PPI (pixels per inch) or PPC (pixels per centimeter). For example, if you look at a photo on an iPhone and on a movie screen, both with 1792 x 828 resolution, the iPhone image will have a better quality because the PPI is higher on the iPhone screen. When the picture is blown up on a movie screen with the same resolution as the iPhone, the image will be pixelated.

KJ Pace
KJ Pace
KJ Pace writes and coordinates content at TechnologyAdvice in Nashville, TN. When she’s not producing content, she enjoys reading, cooking, and playing with her dogs.

Top Articles

Huge List Of Texting and Online Chat Abbreviations

From A3 to ZZZ we list 1,559 text message and online chat abbreviations to help you translate and understand today's texting lingo. Includes Top...

How To Create A Desktop Shortcut To A Website

This Webopedia guide will show you how to create a desktop shortcut to a website using Firefox, Chrome or Internet Explorer (IE). Creating a desktop...

The History Of Windows Operating Systems

Microsoft Windows is a family of operating systems. We look at the history of Microsoft's Windows operating systems (Windows OS) from 1985 to present...

Hotmail [Outlook] Email Accounts

  By Vangie Beal Hotmail is one of the first public webmail services that can be accessed from any web browser. Prior to Hotmail and its...

Legacy Code Definition &...

Legacy code refers to source code that has been inherited from a previous...

Unregulated Power Supply Definition...

An unregulated power supply is a system that transforms input voltage into direct...

Cybersecurity Awareness Training Definition...

Cybersecurity awareness training informs employees of the attack surfaces and vectors in their...