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In the office I was recently forced off a desktop machine and onto a laptop. The laptop is plugged into a docking station/port replicator thingy, and I've a 19" flat screen monitor plugged into it.

The very first thing I noticed is that fonts and colors look just slightly different on this new rig. It's causing me to squint at some fonts, and things like the resize bar in Windows Explorer are so washed out I can't see them without moving my mouse around the area.

Are there any tips you can give me to clean this up?

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There's a good Coding Horror post about calibrating your display: Display Calibration 101. You should try running through the suggestions it mentions.

Basically it boils down to:

  1. Try adjusting the monitor's settings,
  2. THEN try adjusting the video card settings.

... but do read through the post; it gives a much better background in what to tweak and why. Plus there's visual aids.

Manni's point about a bad VGA signal is a good one, but don't give up just yet.

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Are you using the correct screen resolution? Find out what the native resolution of your monitor is and make sure your laptop uses that.

Is the monitor properly adjusted? Find the "Auto-foobar" feature that will adjust the display automatically.

If both of these options don't help, you may have ended up with a laptop that has a very bad VGA signal, which isn't particularly rare. In that case, I'd try a smaller monitor with a smaller resolution.

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I'm using the native resolution for the monitor. I tried the auto-adjust on the monitor. Must be the VGA signal because things are REALLY washed out right now. – JMP Oct 23 '09 at 21:17

If you have a video control utility, like Catalyst Control Center for ATI, you might pop that open and see if there are any funky settings in there.

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