Widescreen vs Standard Monitors

http://live.pirillo.com/ – DavidH wanted to know which one is better: widescreen or standard. Widescreen seems to be better for some applications, like email, but standard monitors look like they're better for other applications.

HD viewers will scream "blasphemy" at this, but standard monitors tend to be better for productivity. Since most applications scroll vertically rather than horizontally, there's no real advantage over using a widescreen monitor. In the world of high definition video and gaming, however, widescreen is the way to go.

Unless you watch a lot of high definition video or do a lot of gaming, paying extra for a widescreen monitor may not be the best way to go for you.

What do you think?

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29 thoughts on “Widescreen vs Standard Monitors”

  1. Widescreen monitors are nothing more than a marketing gimmick. For a given screen size, you actually get LESS area with a widescreen monitor than you do with one that has a standard NTSC 4:3 ratio. I currently use a standard 19″ LCD monitor. I’d have to purchase at least a 22″ widescreen monitor to get anywhere near the same screen height, and it would only give me about an extra inch and a half on each side. Now, those extra 3 inches in width would be nice, but the price differential between a 19″ 4:3 monitor and a 22″ 16:10 make it no contest. Comparing a 19″ NTSC monitor to a 19″ widescreen (which is actually smaller), like the retailers and manufacturers want you to do, simply doesn’t make sense.

  2. Widescreen monitors are nothing more than a marketing gimmick. For a given screen size, you actually get LESS area with a widescreen monitor than you do with one that has a standard NTSC 4:3 ratio. I currently use a standard 19″ LCD monitor. I’d have to purchase at least a 22″ widescreen monitor to get anywhere near the same screen height, and it would only give me about an extra inch and a half on each side. Now, those extra 3 inches in width would be nice, but the price differential between a 19″ 4:3 monitor and a 22″ 16:10 make it no contest. Comparing a 19″ NTSC monitor to a 19″ widescreen (which is actually smaller), like the retailers and manufacturers want you to do, simply doesn’t make sense.

  3. I agonized for a month about this. In the end I asked myself:

    Do I watch movies on my computer monitor?
    A: NO

    Do I play games on my computer monitor?
    A: NO

    Do I do photo editing and slideshow production on my computer monitor?
    A: YES

    Does this require a widescreen?
    A: NO

    I bought the cheapest, 17″ LCD non-widescreen monitor (from ACER) that I could find. IT WORKS LIKE A DREAM and it cost less than half the price of the fancier widescreen products out there.

    Widescreen is USELESS for ordinary photo editing. Photos are NOT taken in widescreen. I often turn my camera into the “portrait” position. Photos taken this way display as narrow strips on widescreen monitors. Lousy.

    I can’t believe how BEAUTIFUL all my stuff appears on this ACER 1716. Unless you’re into gaming or watching movies, this monitor is all you need. And believe me, you DON’T NEED bigger.

  4. you don’t need widescreen, UNLESS YOU ARE A PROGRAMMER!! Every try using Visual Studio 2005 on a normal screen? Even Dreamweaver? Sucks! VS has two verticle menus on either side and DW has 1, so this extra real estate really comes through.

    Or do Photo editing w/photoshop and you get to move your tool windows around. Helps A LOT when you have to zoom in to remove blemishes, crop someone from a background, etc. While the resolution sucks ass on these widescreens (you need zoom lenses in your glasses), the productivity gain is great.

  5. you don’t need widescreen, UNLESS YOU ARE A PROGRAMMER!! Every try using Visual Studio 2005 on a normal screen? Even Dreamweaver? Sucks! VS has two verticle menus on either side and DW has 1, so this extra real estate really comes through.

    Or do Photo editing w/photoshop and you get to move your tool windows around. Helps A LOT when you have to zoom in to remove blemishes, crop someone from a background, etc. While the resolution sucks ass on these widescreens (you need zoom lenses in your glasses), the productivity gain is great.

  6. I am actually in the same delimma. I’ll be upgrading my computer in a month or two and I’m really wondering what to do. Take a 19″ 4:3 or go 22″ widescreen (I’m still on a 17″ 4:3 so both would be upgrades for me).

    On the one side, I think its cool to have more “widespace” for multiple windows and play new games with their widescreen option and all.

    But that’s just it, what about my older games? Heck I still play Master of Orion 2 sometimes. I really feel I’m going to lose out on this since I have a lot of older games that I have, at home, but have yet touched (don’t ask). I would love to enjoy those as well. I don’t have many games that offer widescreen resolution. I still want to play my diablo, RCT3, Starcraft, etc from time to time. It seems to me that we are pushed at to this direction but game manufacturers aren’t all jumping on board yet.

    So do I get a 19″ 4:3 for 3 to 4 years and wait until these issues are all resolved and more games support widescreen? Are my fears totally off? Still need to think….

  7. Recently purchased a new 22-inch widescreen monitor. Previously, we were using a very good 17-inch standard 4:3 model. The new widescreen is absolutely GREAT for gaming! We chat with friends every day while surfing the internet, so being able to have a webpage open as well as an instant message chat window beside it at the same time is very convenient.
    Regarding features, the new monitor includes several contrast/brightness/color temp. presets for Text, Internet, Game, Sports, Movie, and Custom. Very convenient, and we find them very useful. Calibration software is also provided. None of this was readily available when we were shopping for the previous monitor.
    Pricewise, the new 22-inch cost about the same as the older 17-inch cost when we bought it 3 or 4 years ago.
    Everything considered, we’re very happy with the widescreen.

  8. Like Jeff says above, widescreen monitors and laptop screens are a gimmick. In fact, you could even call it a racket. I just blogged on my own site about why i won’t be buying a laptop this year to underscore my disappointment in all the major laptop manufacturers for offering only widescreens on their reasonably priced models. So much for consumer choice!

  9. During my lunch break I was wondering at a nearby mall, in an electronic store. I saw some widescreen monitors besides standard ones. Take off the movies part (which I don’t use my computer for anyways) and the widescreen monitors are complete crap, even when calibrated properly. Someday perhaps they will be better when all applications support them they will be better, but this pretty much made up my mind for a standard 19″ monitor for the applications of TODAY!

  10. During my lunch break I was wondering at a nearby mall, in an electronic store. I saw some widescreen monitors besides standard ones. Take off the movies part (which I don’t use my computer for anyways) and the widescreen monitors are complete crap, even when calibrated properly. Someday perhaps they will be better when all applications support them they will be better, but this pretty much made up my mind for a standard 19″ monitor for the applications of TODAY!

  11. Even for programming widescreen isn’t as good unless your widescreen monitor is larger than your standard. I just switched from a 19inch widescreen monitor to a 19inch standard, I can actually see more code this way and the wide screen only gave me like an inch and a half more width but a lot less height… and I think it was like 13 square inches smaller in total area than the standard. I need realestate. Now, I’d take a 21 inch wide screen over a 19 inch standard, but that wasn’t my option. ;-)

  12. I agree, this widescreen nonsense is getting out of hand. It’s great for movies, I guess, but that’s what TVs are for. I don’t watch movies on my PC, play games on my cell phone, work on spreadsheets on my TV, make coffee on my camera, wear shoes on my hands, etc.

    But what bugs me more is widescreen English. For example, people who think “heighth” is a word. Why make it a letter wider than the “classic” word “height”, which actually has a definition? Or how about “irregardless”? Even if there were such a construct, it would be a double negative. And then there’s “pre-existing”. More and more people are using it in place of the existing word “existing”. (See how that sentence made sense without the “pre”?) By definition, “pre-existing” would mean “not yet existing”. So then an object that’s in its (notice the classic version of “its” rather than the widescreen version, “it’s”, which is a contraction of “it is” or “it has”) “pre-existing” state is what, an idea?

    People complain about overseas tech support workers because they don’t speak English properly. That’s pretty funny when you look at how the average supposed English-speaking person speaks it.

    Silly race, the humans.

  13. well in my opinion i like wide screen better although my screen 1440 X 900 i will amitt is not the greatest for web browsing. i usually need to make the page smaller so i can see all the content. but i might be getting a larger monitor so the web browsing issue should be fixed.

  14. Two monitors is the best way to go for programming.

    I *just* got a widescreen monitor for home. So far it’s not so great. Web pages are tall- not wide!

  15. hate widescreen, and cant seem to find any standard ones :/ that arent meant for industrial applications lol

  16. Just gave up and got a Widescreen.

    No, it is not better. In fact it looks pretty goofy with the stretched images.

    The battle is lost, though, because someone decided that the normal monitors would no longer be made.

  17. I just upgraded from a 17″ 4:3 Crt to a 22″ 16:9 – Truly amazing compared to the 4:3, i dont care if webpages are made for a 4:3 screen, at 1680×1050, i still have more webpage area verticaly than my old 1280×1024 resolution (even if it is only 26 pixels) But i have gained an extra 400 to the side of it, widefox is a great solution to fill these extra pixels, and, i gain several more at the top of the page again, or i can just have my IM or sys monitors to the right of the browser. I admit, if you were going from say 19″ 4:3 to 19″ 16:9, you are loosing out, but considering that a lot of upgrades at the moment are from smaller monitors to larger ones, then you are gaining anyway, and with the cost of them falling, now large LCD’s are getting into the price range of Basic users, which is a great thing all round

  18. If you are upgrading, you may find that you can’t use the widescreen without also replacing your video card.

  19. Excellent presentation
    I’ve been searching the web for a year and been finding nothing but bias and selective images in regards to Widescreen vs. Full Screen. I also found a lot of corporate misinformation at YouTube’s web site (Widescreen vs. Full screen).
    This is the first web site I found so far that includes other forms of media beside JUST the small portion of movies that are widescreen. Did the promoters of widescreen include any tall buildings? How about outer space scenes where space craft is at twelve-o-clock high and there is no horizontal land mass?

    I hate widescreen. Just some of my reasons follow:

    1) Word docs (8 1/2 x 11) are cut short with a lot of unused space off to the sides.

    2) Web pages are a lot taller than they are wide so they are chopped short

    3) I work with blueprints of buildings so height is just as important as width.

    4) I also play video games and while flying a plane I am no longer constrained to the world being flat. It is now modern times and a pilot flies in a 3 dimensional world, not the flat horizontal world. When doing loops and dive bombing I pull back or push forward on the joystick which is an up and down direction on the monitor. If I had purchased a widescreen I would have to turn it sideways to regain vertical height. With my 20″ full screen I can see the enemy before the widescreen user can see me. That’s an advantage.

    5) Arguing with my misinformed friends and family that full screen is better. The ONLY thing widescreen is good for is a small portion of movies that are widescreen. For everything else NO!

    6) Widescreen is a misnomer, it is actually short screen. Turn it sideways and you will have a squeeze screen or is it tall screen?

    I am knowledgeable of geometric shapes and use trigonometry to calculate the areas, lengths of sides, and etcetera for the basis of my analytical conclusion that full screen presents a larger picture.

    Remember that full screen is absolutely capable of capturing all the subjects that a widescreen camera can. And Pan-and Scan is not a full screen image. It only has the same width to height ratio as the viewer’s TV/monitor so when the image is ENLARGED it will then fit the screen. Full screen means FULL, complete, 100%, no missing parts. Pan-and-Scan is missing a lot of parts, it is not full.

    Conclusion: Buy a full screen that’s just as wide as the widescreen you want. Now you can see the BIG picture instead of just the half truth (art of deception).

  20. I agree about the widescreens being over-rated.
    For basic web surfing and watching a video clip a regular aspect monitor seems like the better bet.
    I actually bought one of each. Both Samsung-a 19 inch 4:3 which I actually find to be too big for my space and a 20 inch widesscreen which I like because its not as tall (I don’t like to have to scan with my eyes too much) but don’t like because I can see my desktop when browsing the web and the base is unsteady.
    Can someone please recommend a good 17 inch standard LCD with DVI Input?

  21. I really hate widescreen laptops (and monitors).

    The transition from square (4:3) screens to 16:10 widescreen was itself very painful. I used to have a IBM T42 with 14″ 4:3 square screen. I loved it. I wanted to buy a new Thinkpad, so I last year, around August 2009, ordered Lenovo Thinkpad T400. It was light weight, but widescreen. Did not like it. Thought of getting adjusted, but the palm rest area was too small to rest. I mean the depth of the laptop is not good as that of T42. My wrists started paining, as I type more being a programmer. Returned it with 15% restocking fee :(

    Then again, 3 days back I got a new Lenovo Thinkpad T510. What a shame. 16:9 (HD+) widescreen. My neck started paining a lot, as I have to keep my neck tilted to left side, while typing the code in my favorite Editplus editor. One day of use and such a bad experience. I am again returning it with 15% restocking fee :(

    I don’t know why the industry moved to widescreen, and that too 16:9 stuff, for business laptops. I really really really need a 4:3 laptop again.

    Regards,
    Satish.

  22. Recently my 19″ 4:3 monitor went out and I had to purchase a new one right away so I went to three local places looking but none of them carried 4:3 any more so I had to get a 22″ widescreen.

    Absolutely hate it.

  23. My 19″ monitor fritzed out on me as well, and I had a similarly frustrating search for a normal monitor. They are not to be had in retail stores.

    Thank goodness for eBay! My 19″ 4:3 monitor is on the way (about $80)

    Actually, I hope to find someone who still actually fixes monitors as I loved my Hyundai. Currently it sits sadly on the floor.

  24. Like you said, you can’t compare an older 17″ monitor to a newer 22″ monitor.  The aspect ratio has little to do with you favorable impression.  In fact, a 22″ widescreen monitor has less screen area than a 22″ 5:4 or 4:3 monitor.

  25. Like you said, you can’t compare an older 17″ monitor to a newer 22″ monitor.  The aspect ratio has little to do with you favorable impression.  In fact, a 22″ widescreen monitor has less screen area than a 22″ 5:4 or 4:3 monitor.

  26. Part of the reason is that they can advertise and sell you a monitor as a certain size (22″) while actually providing less screen area.  Basic geometry tells me that a 22″ 16:9 monitor has less area than a 22″ 16:10, which has less area than a 22″ 5:4 or 4:3.

  27. Part of the reason is that they can advertise and sell you a monitor as a certain size (22″) while actually providing less screen area.  Basic geometry tells me that a 22″ 16:9 monitor has less area than a 22″ 16:10, which has less area than a 22″ 5:4 or 4:3.

  28. i know this is old but just bought my first widescreen monitor. upgraded from a 4:3 LCD. not sure i made the right decision. i agree with chris that i would rather scan up and down than left and right. but that extra width is cool for managing multiple windows. to get that extra side real estate with a 4:3 monitor you would have to get a pretty big honking monitor (ie. chris’ 30″ monitors). so maybe the widescreen is a good compromise.

  29. Hate WS as well. Unless you’re a porridge brained nerd playing games or sitting at your desk watching videos then a standard monitor’s the way to go. You need to get a 24″ WS if you want the same vertical height as a normal 19″, otherwise pages will be shorter or use a smaller font. And you still can’t get 2 normal sized pages side by side.

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