I can see it being an issue with laptops/netbooks. Generally they use LVDS for the monitors. That can limit the supported resolutions. Also the general thinking of the MFG's of these devices is that if you are connecting a screen to them you are going larger not smaller so they dont include support for lower resolutions.
You can check to see if there is a BIOS update for your specific device. Often board MFG's, especially Intel, dont include 800 x 480 support in the initial launch of a board.
Did you try power strip at all?