Update: On the 30th of December 2010 I posted a follow up on this blog post, find it here.
I have often been wondering why monitors are like they are; why don’t they make square monitors.
Let’s have a look at previous/current monitors and why I think that wide screen monitors often are no good.
There does exist monitors with other resolutions than the below mentioned once, specially if you look at the notebooks, but the once below are the most common desktop monitor.
In the good old days we had monitors with low resolution, such as 1024×768 which is still very used. Actually, one of my flat screens is 1024×768 pixels and still in use today.
Then 1280×1024 got more normal, especially for 17″ and for some strange reason also 19″ screens. I only used 19″ monitor once and to be honest, it annoyed me. I was used to 17″ and then suddenly I had the SAME RESOLUTION but on a bigger area (19″) so this just meant bigger pixels; no good to me really.
Same resolution but bigger pixels does happen a good bit with the new big monitors also.
So finally things started to make sense, 20″ with 1600×1200, pretty high resolution even compared to our standards.
Wide screen madness
It seems the world went Wide Screen Crazy. Sure wide screen can be great for watching movies or playing games. But I never really saw the point for ‘normal’ use.
Let us have a look at the 20″, the standard resolution is 1600×1200 pixels, but the wide screen is 1680×1050 pixels. This is going from 1.920.000 pixels down to 1.747.200 pixels. For ‘normal’ use it must be great with the taller resolution, so you can view more of your Word or Excel data. The 80 pixels more in the width does not give you much really. Often the 22″ wide screen got the same resolution as the 20″
The 19″ wide is a joke if you ask me, 1440×900 pixels; sure the reduction of number of pixels is not as bad as with 20″ but still, 900 pixels in the height!!
The only reason for me to get a 20″ wide screen would be if it could be rotated 90 degrees.
Let us step up in resolution.
Currently I feel the best monitor is 24″, with 1920×1200 (Notice, same height as normal 20″). When I got my Dell 24″ I was SO shocked to start with, why I didn’t do that earlier (money issue of course). Since then we have seen 27″ (from Dell), also same resolution as the 24″.
Here I can actually see a reason to go from the 24″ to the 27″, IF you use it as extra screen in bed room or such; for movies. Just too bad that they are a lot more expensive, for Dell the 27″ cost around 140% MORE than the 24″. The prices for all monitors have dropped a lot during the last year and the 24″ one seems pretty alright now.
The current top monitor is the 30″ with 2560×1600 pixels. Main problem with the 30″ is of course the very high price and the requirement of special dual DVI linked graphics card. The graphics card issue is probably the smallest; the graphics card I got in my Mac Pro should be able to drive two times 30″ but I’m not sure if my VISA card could.
Multi monitor setup
Often people start out with a single monitor and later invest in a bigger one. Depending on desk space they often find them self using both monitors. For us programmers there is no going back; have you once used two monitors then going back to a single one is out of the questions.
As mentioned in an earlier post (Second graphics card for Apple Mac Pro with Boot Camp) I’m now using a setup with 3 monitors.
From left to right: 17â€³ Sony SDM-S71 (1280Ã—1024), 24â€³ Dell 2407WFP (Rotated 90 degrees, 1200Ã—1920) and finally the old 15â€³ Philips 151AX (1024Ã—768).
The 17″ screen works as main display; so all gaming happens on this monitor in normal screen mode. This is also great for programming as I have source code on the middle screen and can easy debug any game running on the left screen. The right screen is mainly used for MSN, ICQ, Skype and such.
This is a GREAT setup, it gives a great view when you work with source code, Word Documents, PDF files, blogs (surfing the web is a lot nicer). Excel documents are sometimes best viewed in 1920×1200, specially the old ones I have where I would place any chart to the right of the numbers.
Future (Give me a square monitor)
So what’s next? I already got a great setup but that does not make me happy (well, I’m not unhappy either).
I have been considering two ways of extending my current setup as it does allow for one more monitor to be connected.
- Get one more Dell 24″ of 100% the same type as mine, rotate it and place it next to the current one. Problem with this is that the very latest Dell 24″ does not support rotated display. So I might have to find one on eBay.
- Get another great 24″ monitor and place it none rotated to the left of the current 24″. This would be the new primary screen; great for gaming and for movies. The old 17″ would then be placed on top of the current 15″, just not sure how as none of them supports wall mounting.
When I sit here and look at the big monitor I just don’t understand why they don’t make square monitors; why do they have to be wide screen. Give me a square monitor with 1920×1920 (or why not 2048×2048) pixels. Make sure pixels are square also of course. Let the size be 52x52cm (20.4×20.4″), given a total of 28″. I’m pretty sure the graphics cards could handle that, it is after all the same number of pixels as a 30″ (4MP). Now I would be happy.
Having two 24″ monitors next to each other (or on top of each other) would give this resolution but with 4cm between each half.
As far as I remember I once read about one company who produced custom designed monitors; they took two ‘normal’ monitors apart and was able to place each display without any distance between them. They didn’t use 24″ but still not a bad idea. I was not able to find the company again, so if someone knows then let me know.
I searched the net and was not able to find any such screens; I wonder why, there must be a market for them.