Widescreen for computers? No thanks!

When you read this article, you might want to know:

  • Widescreen computer monitors usually have the aspect ratio 16:10, but 16:9 is coming more and more, unfortunately.
  • Widescreen TV sets are 16:9.
  • Old school computer monitors and TV sets are 4:3 (=16:12).
  • If the aspect ratio is x:y, that means that if the device is x wide, the height will be y.

Most readers probably already knew all of the above, but maybe it helped someone.

Widescreen for computers? Well… I don’t like it. It’s too wide!

Sure, I have to admit that for my 15.4″ Asus laptop, it’s quite nice with widescreen. 1280 x 800 pixels (16:10), as my laptop screen is, is a lot better than 1024 x 768 (4:3), but on the other hand, 1280 x 1024 (4:3) would have been much better.

However, my 24″ TFT Samsung SyncMaster 2443BW (16:10, 1920 x 1200) is too wide. I don’t feel completely comfortable with it. Apart from the width, it’s a pretty nice screen, for being a regular TFT. If I had found a 4:3 TFT screen with a resolution of 1600 x 1200 pixels at the same price and quality, I would have chosen that one instead.

24 inch 16:10 is too wide for having one application on full screen, but not wide enough to have two applications side by side while giving each application a good width.

For example, a text editor for programming is nice to have rather wide, but 1920 is too much. If I run the text editor in full screen the better part of the text will be too far to the left compared to where I’m sitting, because of the size/width of the screen. I usually decrease the width of the text editor and move it to the right. However, the space that is left on the screen, to the left of the text editor, is kind of wasted. It could be useful for having an instant messenger chat window there, but I have that on another screen. No matter how large screen you have, it’s still nice to have a second screen, and maybe even a third one.

The wasted space to the left also makes my screen take up too much place on my desk (physically), even though it’s not really needed.

When it comes to height, I think 1200 pixels is a pretty good height. The vertical resolution should not be lower than that.

16:10 is not a good format for computers, and it’s getting replaced by 16:9, which is even worse. Totally crazy! 16:9 is good for movies and TV, but how many use their computer screen mainly for watching movies? Well, not me, that’s for sure.

When the screens are going from 16:10 to 16:9, it basically means that they go from 1280 x 800 to 1280 x 720 and from 1920 x 1200 to 1920 x 1080, and then I don’t get my 1200 pixels height anymore.

15:10 would be a better format, because it’s the same as photos from cameras (i.e. “real cameras”, most digital compact cameras are 4:3, while SLR and DSLR are 15:10), so there would be some point to it. The full area of the screen could actually be useful sometimes. A 15:10 screen, if there was such a screen, would be e.g. 1800 x 1200 pixels. This should of course be combined with a second screen, and maybe even a third one as well.

Except for viewing or working with photos, I think it would be much better to have two or three 4:3 screens that are 1600 x 1200 pixels, and maybe around 21″.

Currently I use 15.4″ 16:10 + 24″ 16:10 (Asus laptop and Samsung SyncMaster 2443BW), but I feel that it’s not quite enough. I also have an old 17″ Dell TFT screen (1280 x 1024) (it’s a really nice one, for its age), but that one is connected to another computer that I don’t use much. I’m considering buying an USB VGA graphics adapter (preferably with DVI connection) so I could connect the Dell as a third screen to my laptop.

Widescreen is great for movies, but not for normal computer work. I very rarely watch movies on my computer screen. For movies it’s much better to use a large screen TV or a projector.

Widescreen for my computer? No thanks! I just use it for the lack of better options.