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Mar 20

Screen size calculator – we hate widescreens!

I was thinking to buy a new monitor, so I made the following Excel table to calculate monitor dimensions (width and height) in mm, screen area, pixels size, etc. I posted it there on my website because I guess that other people may find it useful too.
I made to display all monitor sizes from 14 to 40 inch. You can write your own numbers.

Download: Monitor size & screen resolution calculator .XLS

History

During 2000s, most computer monitors were 1024×768 (4:3) and 1280×1024 (5:4).

Widescreens (16:10) appeared in 2004 originally for laptops (1280×800), next year also as stand-alone monitors (1440×900, 1680×1050, 1920×1200).

The TV industry adopted 16:9 standard in 2008, so computer monitors like 1366×768, 1600×900 1920×1080 spread quickly, because is cheaper to produce both monitors and TV in same aspect ratio. The 1366×768 resolution was born because some software need minimum 1024×768 to run. It is considered the worst resolution ever as its width is not even divisible by 8, so a 1360×768 was also born.

Note: few 16:9 monitors existed long time before being adopted by TV in 2008, compared with popular belief 1366×768 did not appeared in 2008, HD TVs with 1366×768 capable to display 720p video but also output 1024×768 from computers, existed in 2000s.

Carmack coded Quake on a 1920×1080 16:9 CRT monitor in 1995. Iincredible but true, considering that widescreens (re)appeared in 2004 with 16:10 both CRT and LCD. Does anyone know the history of 16:9 aspect ratio, who and when invented this shit?

The SAD part is that cheaper 16:9 monitors leaded to extinction of 4:3, 5:4 and 16:10 monitors around 2011. The stores bought what was the cheapest and the population was forced to buy what the stores sell, giving to manufacturers a false impression that nobody like 4:3 anymore.

Many people around formus are asking “Where I can buy a 4:3 monitor?” and people replying them that bigger is better, wide monitor are better, 24″ 1920×1200 better than 20″ 1600×1200, 27″ 2560×1440 better than 24″ 1920×1440, etc. But these big monitors are expensive and additional space in sides give NO benefits in certain applications.

Some people complain that 16:9 means loss of space, downgrade, etc. This is NOT TRUE if we take price and time in consideration.

21.5″ 1920×1080 monitors are today cheap like 17″ 1280×1024 and 19″ 1440×900, the popular sizes in late 2000s, for most people buying a 1920-1080 is a cheap upgrade.

24″ 1920×1200 was very expensive and never got more than 2-3% marketshare. If you paid $1000+ for a 24″ 1920×1200 in late 2000s then you can easily afford a 27″ 2560×1440 today.

You should compare like this:
17″ 1280×1024 (910 cm², 1310720 pixels) vs 19″ 1440×900 (1047 cm² 1296000 pixels)
20″ 1600×1200 (1239 cm², 1920000 pixels) vs 21.5″ 1920×1080 (1274 cm², 2073600 pixels)
These monitors are similar in area and pixels and similar in price too at some time in history, which one do you prefer and why?

I hate widescreens! Maybe gamers and movie maniacs would like 16:10 and 16:9, but many people use computers for professional things, personally I am working most of time in AutoCAD, Word and Excel, I prefer 4:3 aspect ratio. For certain projects I rotate monitor in portrait mode. A widescreen may give more vertical space in portrait mode, but its narrowness would be unacceptable. Many TV stations and videos are still in 4:3 format. Photo cameras are again 4:3.

If I could influence computer manufacturers I would produce 5 monitor types only: 17″ 1280×960, 20″ 1600×1200 and wide 20″ 1600×1000, 24″ 1920×1200, 30″ 2560×1600 and 3 laptop types: 12″ 1024×768, 14″ 1280×800, 17″ 1600×1000 (both 4:3 and 16:10, so people could choose what they wants, no 16:9 bullshit).

(Dis)advantages of widescreen monitors

Widescreen are close to golden ratio (1.618), match human vision, and can display 2 pages in Word.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME? When running Microsoft Word 2010 on Windows 7, subtracting taskbar, menus, toolbars, etc, the 1366×768 screen provide an actual working area of 1335×529 pixels (2.52 ratio, very uncomfortable), while a 4:3 1280×960 screen provide 1249×721 actual working area (1.73 ratio) which fits two A4 pages better but still not enough (1.50 ratio is needed). Actually, in most software having more vertical space give you more pleasure than having golden ratio.

Widescreens give you ability to have 2 windows side by side
ANY monitor can display 2 windows side by side, top by bottom, etc, but in most offices we work in a single software at time. “Wide” but less than ~1000 pixels vertical give me claustrophobic feeling. For hardcore multitasking you should get a widescreen of at least 1920 pixels horizontal.

Widescreens match HD movie formats
How often do we watch movies on computer? At office probably never, at home I can plug in my 40″ plasma TV which is widescreen anyway. Letterboxing is not a problem for watching just few movies on computer.

Widescreens give you better field of vision in games.
This is true. But not every computer is used for gaming.

Note: above myths are based on conversations with my friends.

Most common screen resolution

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