For most people only the screen size and resolution are all that will really matter. The graphics processor really only tends to make a difference for those looking to possibly do some mobile gaming or high definition video. Pretty much all laptops use some form of backlit active matrix display to allow for bright fast displays capable of video playback.
When it comes to display screens you should pay attention to the following:
Laptop screens have a wide range of sizes depending upon the type of laptop system that you are looking at. Larger screens provide an easier to view screen such as those for desktop replacements. Ultra-portables (13.3” or less) tend to have smaller screens allowing for a reduced size and increased portability. The next size up can be described as the Thin and Light (14” to 16”). Then there is the Desktop Replacements (17” to 19”).
Many systems now offer a wide aspect ratio screen either for a more cinematic display or to reduce the size of the screen in the depth dimension for a smaller system size. All screens sizes are given in a diagonal measurement. This is the measurement from the lower screen corner to the opposite upper corner of the screen.
Screen resolution measures the number of pixels on the display. The first number measures the pixels going across the screen and the second number measures the pixels vertically. (ie: 1380 x 768). Another term you will hear is native resolution. This is the same as the optimal screen resolution for that laptop. Higher screen resolutions will give you more detail or a clearer, cleaner display. The drawback to this is the higher the resolution, the smaller the image and the display may be harder to read.
TN and IPS are the two dominant technologies used with the LCD displays for laptops. TN is the most common. It has the fastest refresh rate (important to gamers or someone requiring “fast video”). TN offers a smaller total number of colors that the screen will be able to display (again important really only to video editors).
IPS simply is the opposite. IPS offers more of a color range with hotter and richer colors. IPS screens also tend to have slower refresh rates (bad for gamers and those “fast video” people).
Touchscreens basically replaces the touchpad and mouse. Please remember a couple of things though when considering a touchscreen: first never buy a Windows laptop with a touchscreen and any operating system older than Windows 8. Windows 8 optimizes the touchscreen and makes it a viable tool. Second, remember that touchscreens use quite a bit more power so it will affect the battery life.
The graphics card will mean the least to you unless you want to edit video, you are a gamer, or otherwise use 3D graphics of any type. This requirement will need a minimum of 1 GB graphics dedicated memory (GPU). In this arena ATI and NVIDIA are locked in a death duel. In my mind, a choice one way or the other only indicates your preference. At any given time there is not enough of a difference to …..well….make a difference.
One Last Thought about Displays: Glossy coatings or matte coatings
Most consumer laptops come with the glossy type coatings on the panel. This will give the screen a more vivid color and greater brightness. Another note is many (if not most) touchscreen panels come with a glossy coating. This is because they are easier to clean fingerprints and smudges off.
The thing about the glossy coating is though, if you are outdoors or anywhere with bright light there is increased glare off the screen. A matte coating (also can be called anti-glare) though will reduce that reflection of light thus limiting glare. These laptops are better suited in an office and/or business setting.