I've never been able to grasp why there are so few screen resolution options for home computers, there must be 1,0000 fonts or point size settings, but for screens we seem to be limited to too teeny to read, or too big to show enough on the bloody screen!!!
if it's a laptop the screen resolution might not be adjustable, LCDs tend to only support a few resolutions. if this is the case you can right click on the desktop hit display properties go to appearance and change it to something like "windows default (Large)" or the like that uses larger fonts.
you can also adjust your font size for internet pages by clicking the view menu->text size annd picking one of the larger settings.
Use the display controls to set the icons for "Large" and the advanced settings for "Large Fonts". (That's how it works in Win98). I run a 17" monitor at 1600x1200 and those settings make it very usable. Except for certain situations, it's superior to using normal icons and fonts at lower resolutions.
Seeing that Laptop LCDs interpolate to the same res anyway, I'd say try to use a resolution that is en even divider of your native res. So if your screen's native res is 1600x1200 (On a 15" Laptop?!? Holy Shit!) then setting it to 800x600 shouldn't look as bad as say 1024x768... It's just like when showing a pic at 200% Zoom.