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The End of Non-Widescreen Laptops?

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the aspect-ratios-give-me-shivers dept.

Displays 668

Santi Onta writes "Today Lenovo retired the last NON-widescreen laptop they offered (the T61 14.1) from the market, and Lenovo is just an example (Apple, Sony, HP, etc. are the same). I understand the motivation behind all the laptop manufacturers to move to widescreen: they can still advertise that they offer 14.1 or 15.4 screens, but the screen area is smaller, and thus they save more money. Some people might like widescreens (they are useful for some tasks), but any developer knows that vertical space matters! Less vertical space = less lines of code in the screen = more scrolling = less productivity. How can laptop manufacturers still claim that they look after their customers when the move to widescreens is clearly a selfish one? I just wish they offered non-widescreen laptops, even if it were for a plus (that I'd be more than happy to pay)." I've always preferred the widescreen aspect ratio -- vertical matters, but having two nice wide columns always mattered more to me. Until this reader's submission, I hadn't realized that it was such a contested issue. Does this matter?

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668 comments

Pixels Are Your Friend (5, Informative)

kmsigel (306018) | more than 5 years ago | (#23142848)

My laptop screen is wide format (1920 x 1200). With that many pixels you can easily have 4 edit windows up at once (2 x 2 array) with each one having the "standard" 80 columns and 25 lines. This still leaves plenty of room around the edit windows for testing windows, frequently accessed desktop icons, etc.

I admit that stuff on the laptop screen is a bit small (it is ~15 inch diagonal), but when using my 24 inch monitor (which I use 99.9% of the time) the display is a thing of beauty.

Are you kidding me?? (-1, Troll)

Jack B. Nimple (1275372) | more than 5 years ago | (#23142950)

Parent Contains Malicious Links! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23143080)

AVOID THE RDS LINKS!

Anything with http://rds.yahoo.com/ [yahoo.com] because it is a breeding ground for redirected harmful scripts! Send a message to Yahoo to stop this!

Re:Are you kidding me?? (0)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143196)

non ACs posting these makes me sad. Also its sad yahoo sucks so much that they host viruses. But then yahoo was never too smart.

Re:Are you kidding me?? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23143206)

Don't even think about clicking that.

A Few More Points to Weigh (4, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#23142900)

I thought I would add in a few more points that might influence your stance on this. While standardizing on one is great, I think that we should stick to letting the consumer have the option.

At the company I work at, there is extreme contempt for hooking widescreen laptops up to projectors and smartboards as the user on the laptop cannot view what they are doing on the laptop's screen (if they do it is super distorted to fit on the other viewing device). While this may sound trivial, imagine sitting at a desk facing a class of 100+ people who are looking at huge screens behind you. Not only end consumers but also the enterprise prefers the choice. Although this is kind of a non-issue if only Lenovo is doing that because my employer won't buy from China ... what with the phone home possibilities of hardware and all. Oddly enough, half the laptops here are IBM's Thinkpads and the other newer half are Dell XPS's (which ironically spurred the widescreen incidents). Leave it to a Fortune 500 company to waste cash on desktop-replacement-laptops.

And--I'm sure this will come up several times--there is my DVD collection which is mostly widescreen as I have a widescreen TV at home. For this reason, I personally may prefer a widescreen. However, most DVDs are non-widescreen and laptop screens are small enough as it is without having the lost real-estate. Again, probably a trivial aspect unless you travel and watch DVDs a lot.

I do enjoy Warcraft on wide screens though ... something about horizontal viewing that makes me happy. Although I don't do that on laptops or play Warcraft anymore, it may be something to consider.

I agree with the submitter that it is important indeed to leave this decision up to the consumer. Actually, since this is just Lenovo, I wonder if this will hurt their sales? If the consumers want it, the companies will notice ...

Re:A Few More Points to Weigh (5, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143014)

At the company I work at, there is extreme contempt for hooking widescreen laptops up to projectors and smartboards as the user on the laptop cannot view what they are doing on the laptop's screen (if they do it is super distorted to fit on the other viewing device).

That's odd. All the laptops I use happily show an 800x600 image square in the middle of the screen when hooked up to a projector. (Either that or I can use it as a second screen. Depends on how your laptop is configured.) You may want to play around in the Display Properties and see if you can reconfigure your laptop to handle that situation correctly. In my experience, there are very few widescreen devices that lack support for 4:3 mode with black bars.

Re:A Few More Points to Weigh (1)

ILikeRed (141848) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143256)

You may want to play around in the Display Properties and see if you can reconfigure your laptop to handle that situation correctly. In my experience, there are very few widescreen devices that lack support for 4:3 mode with black bars.

That is fine for you, but try teaching this to a PHB... this is exactly why most of our laptops have xga monitors - it matches our xga projectors - and there is nothing to configure. I have also found the same people have a hard time with powerpoint unless there is perfect fidelity between the design and show phase.

Re:A Few More Points to Weigh (2, Informative)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143618)

That is fine for you, but try teaching this to a PHB...
It might take some fiddling with the graphic driver (screen control application), but it should be possible to set up the laptop in such a way that it deals with the situation automatically.

We faced the same problem and were able to make it work (with the ATi control panel on Mobility Radeon X1300)

Re:A Few More Points to Weigh (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23143108)

However, most DVDs are non-widescreen
Huh? I haven't seen a brand new non-widescreen DVD for four or five years, excepting DVDs releases of old TV series that weren't shot in widescreen. I've been buying widescreen film DVDs since 1999, region 1 and 2.

Re:A Few More Points to Weigh (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143640)

Most DVDs are released in both widescreen and fullscreen formats if there is a widescreen version. As far as I understand, the pan and scan (fullscreen) version is typically the better seller and will be the one a retailer will tend to stock if they have to choose.

WRT projectors and widescreen laptops, it can be made to work, but the widescreen on the laptop is one more point of possible failure. I've seen plenty of instances where the laptop's screen is widescreen and the left and right bars are just cut off in the projected image, and other times where the text gets squished, or the laptop's display gets stretched and looks horrible. While the fix should be easy, sometimes it isn't. I've had plenty of cases where someone sets everything in a way that seems correct (3:4 aspect, resolution the projector can handle, etc...) and it still doesn't work. On the other hand, I've never had trouble with my own laptop, it's always "that coworker" the one who manages to always have trouble with everything tech related.

Re:A Few More Points to Weigh (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143230)

because my employer won't buy from China ... what with the phone home possibilities of hardware and all.
Let me guess: this is a pure Open Source company, right?

Re:A Few More Points to Weigh (1, Informative)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143292)

At the company I work at, there is extreme contempt for hooking widescreen laptops up to projectors and smartboards as the user on the laptop cannot view what they are doing on the laptop's screen
Shouldn't they direct their contempt toward the software that is clearly lacking? One should be able to view any image in any aspect ratio - just display some black bars at the sides. Powerpoint 2004 does a fantastic job - it displays full-screen on the presentation device, and then gives you a sort of presentation control panel on the laptop screen, with a picture of the current slide, plus what slide is up next, and navigation controls... as well a sidebar with the entire presentation so that you can jump around if you want.

Personally, I like the widescreens. MacOS seems designed for it... that dock fits great on the left or right when you have a widescreen. Even the stupid Vista sidebar seems to assume you have space on the side. It also seems more natural for programs that keep a lot of toolbars open, such as photoshop.

Re:A Few More Points to Weigh (3, Interesting)

MrMacman2u (831102) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143308)

At the company I work at, there is extreme contempt for hooking widescreen laptops up to projectors and smartboards as the user on the laptop cannot view what they are doing on the laptop's screen (if they do it is super distorted to fit on the other viewing device).


Just a thought here, but have you ever considered... oh, I dunno... changing the resolution of your laptops video out to, perhaps, a "standard" ratio such as 1024x768?

I know, I know, this is just as "extreme" as actually connecting the laptop to the projector in the first place, but really, despite the monumentous stretch of technical wizardry it requires to to actually find and then change the resolution settings to something more appropriate for a projector, it does work wonders for solving that whole distortion problem. Cheers!

Re:A Few More Points to Weigh (1, Offtopic)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143456)

Actually, most DVDs are widescreen. The cut down Pan and Scan style 4:3 movies are a mostly American phenomena that are becoming more and more rare even here. They are a legacy from the limited resolution of VHS and NTSC broadcast.

13" MacBook Pro (-1, Offtopic)

krog (25663) | more than 5 years ago | (#23142914)

I want it. They won't give it to me. Instead I get a manila envelope full of shit.

Re:13" MacBook Pro (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23143146)

I want a Unicorn. They won't give it to me. Instead I get a horse with a candle stuck to its head. What's your point?

Re:13" MacBook Pro (1, Interesting)

mfnickster (182520) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143526)

The point is that Apple, once again, believes they know what their customers want and need better then the customers do.

Despite the droves of 12" PowerBook owners telling Apple how nice it is to have so much power and flexibility in a small package, and pleading for a 12" MacBook Pro, Apple gave us the underwhelming MacBook Air instead.

Despite the huge buzz of speculation that Apple would come out with an eMate-size sub-notebook to compete with the little Vaios and Zauruses etc., Apple gave us the oversized MacBook Air instead.

It's the same old story - the Reality Distortion Field(TM) only works inside Apple's walls. When it tries to spread outward it gets smacked down by Real Reality(TM).

FTFY (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23142952)

Less vertical space = [b]fewer[/b] lines of code [b]on[/b] the screen = more scrolling = less productivity.

Re:FTFY (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23143216)

I hate the new submit interface...

Use a desktop (5, Insightful)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 5 years ago | (#23142974)

any developer knows that vertical space matters!

I suppose there are developers out there who develop primarily on a laptop. Shoot, I'm even one of them, since we only get laptops at my job.

But I have a docking station hooked up to a 19-inch LCD that I do almost all of my work on, and the laptop display is my secondary display I use to keep my documentation, watch windows, etc. on.

I would think that most developers either have this kind of setup or do most of their development on desktops, which are generally more powerful anyway.

Not only that (4, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143252)

What is the actual percentage of the market for laptops who are developers? The summary almost makes it sound like it's the entire user base and that manufacturers are ignoring a huge and important market segment.

Re:Not only that (1)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143622)

As another poster pointed out, there's nothing to prevent you from plugging in a larger screen. Heck, get one with TV/Flatpanel out as well as vga out, and you can plug in 2 external screens, and extend your desktop across both of them.

Newer laptops probably have at least the same ram and hd space as a developer's desktop from a couple of years ago, so if you're a dev, you might want to use your lappy nowadays. Also, you have more freedom to customize your machine ...

Re:Use a desktop (1)

darjen (879890) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143500)

I develop primarily on a Thinkpad T60, and I definitely appreciate the vertical space. My company doesn't have extra monitors hanging around the office, but many people bring their own in. I suppose I could imagine myself investing in an extra 19" LCD for work as some point.

Well I'm starting to like widescreen now (2, Interesting)

paul.tap (717722) | more than 5 years ago | (#23142980)

Having bought a T61p with 1920x1200, I now have 2 gnome panels (one left and one on the right side, both 160 pix wide), which offer me lots of room for applets and nicely provide me with a clean 1600x1200 desktop to work on.

It doesn't stick with laptop screens! (3, Insightful)

freaker_TuC (7632) | more than 5 years ago | (#23142984)

My suppliers got problems getting the normal LCD screens ; they are all widescreen.
I've been forced to buy 2 widescreen LCD's because none of my suppliers could get me decent 20/22" non-widescreen LCDs.
Pretty annoying when coding overnight through a secure shell session, I must say...

Re:It doesn't stick with laptop screens! (1)

blackcoot (124938) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143116)

i would gladly trade you my dell 20" lcd for a reasonable 20-24" wide screen. unfortunately "my" dell isn't mine to give away :-/

I just wish... (4, Insightful)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#23142988)

they were the same aspect ratio as an HDTV.

using a 16:10 as my bedroom tv (4, Interesting)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143240)

is nice, beacuse all the media player apps I use from bed fit their controls into the bottom & top 5% of the screen

media player, VLC, winamp, the dvd software I use... the bars fit perfectly, I can leave them live and watch 16:9 content

Re:I just wish... (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143350)

Supposedly 16:10 was chosen so that you can show two letter sized pages side-by-side at the same time. It's not quite right, and with small screens it has to be scaled down, but close enough. I really don't think everything has to be a particular aspect ratio, especially computers. Computers can work with 4:3, 5:4, 3:2, 16:10 and 16:9 aspect ratios, when set up properly, without stretching and distortion. Maybe there are more aspect ratios in use. The 4:3 allows space for multihead more easily, as the width for two 16:10 displays is quite wide, I'd rather trade the width for height in that case.

Re:I just wish... (1)

Klaus_1250 (987230) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143414)

As a movie-fan, I just wish they had the same Aspect Ratio as in the Cinema (which people seem to forget, is NOT 16:9).

Yes it matters (1)

dj245 (732906) | more than 5 years ago | (#23142992)

At work, I've never said to myself, "Damn! I wish this screen was wider so I don't have to scroll!". Most websites are designed so that you don't have to. Vertical scrolling is the only scrolling I do, and a taller monitor is better for that.

At home, more and more gentlemen's videos are being shot in widescreen. So it makes sense at home but not at work.

Re:Yes it matters (1)

reboot246 (623534) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143268)

A lot of the websites seem to be designed for 800x600. Lowes just redesigned theirs and now there's a ton of whitespace on the right side of my wide screen.

Re:Yes it matters (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143380)

Any option to turn these monitors sideways, and use them as an extra high monitor? I know I saw a few CRTs that were extra tall at the newspaper where my step-dad used to work. I know most video cards provide options for rotating the monitor in software, but I'm not sure how many monitors have support for it in the the way they are mounted to the base.

Re:Yes it matters (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143440)

If you use Firefox, try setting it up to put the tab bar to the right hand side of the screen. Much easier to use when you've got a lot of tabs (they don't shrink to tiny squares) and it still leaves you a 1024x768-ish bit of screen real-estate for the actual web.

Re:Yes it matters (1)

Penguin Follower (576525) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143470)

There's a couple PHBs at work that send me excel sheets that are 9 miles wide and only a couple rows deep. In that respect, my widescreen laptop comes in handy. But otherwise, the only benefit I can see to the widescreen at work is tiling two applications side by side a little easier (since they don't give me a second monitor).

Re:Yes it matters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23143542)

But you buy
a widescreen
and they'll
start filming
porn in tall-
screen.

Then what?

Aim for the lowest common denominator (1)

Marcion (876801) | more than 5 years ago | (#23142998)

I agree with the OP that portrait is best. After all, it is anti-social to write code or text more than 80 columns wide.

However, I am afraid they have to go with the lowest common denominator, that is people watching DVDs. Widescreens make sense if computers are DVD players that can check email.

external monitor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23143012)

nope, it doesn't matter.

If real estate matters and you are not really mobile (ie, sitting at a desk coding) then get a stinking monitor with huge resolution/display.

Solution! (5, Funny)

Shark (78448) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143016)

We could all learn to use laptops sideways for coding:

Boss: Why are you lying down?
You: To be more productive!

So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23143022)

Turn it sideways.

Wider Screen Tall Screen (3, Insightful)

Puls4r (724907) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143044)

I would much rather have a wider screen. Most coders have multiple windows open, and additional width proves more easy for me to use in that case. In addition, long code statements won't fit on a narrow screen and having to scroll sideways to read your code PLUS scroll vertically is a major annoyance. By going wide you removing ever having to scroll sideways - unless you're in excel. It's a big plus for me.

X61? (2, Informative)

outZider (165286) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143060)

I'm on a Lenovo ThinkPad X61 Tablet. As far as I can tell, they are still being sold, and it's a standard 12.1" display on the Tablet and the standard model.

Non-issue (2, Interesting)

ccozan (754085) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143066)

14.1" with 1400x1050 vs. 15.4" 1600x1050 ? yes, i choose as a developer the last one. The eye sees more left/right than up/down. With the extra 200x1050 i can keep open my Outline in Eclipse _without_ taking place from my editor in the middle. And for films watching is great too. So yes, widescreen, no gloss ( it's a tool, not a bling ;) ).

macurmudgeon (5, Insightful)

macurmudgeon (900466) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143068)

How many people actually write code, or for that matter, any long documents? It mostly about media now days where the ability to watch a wide screen movie is a selling point. And, wider screens are a boon to people who use graphics applications like Photoshop where the extra width gets filled with palettes.

Re:macurmudgeon (5, Insightful)

MrMacman2u (831102) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143134)

I'm not a coder, but as someone who regularly works in graphics design, Photoshop, Web Design, Page Layout, etc... a wide aspect ratio screen is completely invaluable and I have found it frustrating to use the "old" 4:3 style screens for some time now.

Your natural tendency is to look left and right, not up and down. I have been informed repeatedly of this by people who have "switched" and now favor the wider screen ratio.

Of course another reason general users probably prefer the widescreen is for viewing movies also, but that's another point all together.

I, for one, will waste no tears in the death knell of the standard aspect ratio.

Re:macurmudgeon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23143426)

I'm not a coder, but as someone who regularly works in graphics design, Photoshop, Web Design, Page Layout, etc... a wide aspect ratio screen is completely invaluable and I have found it frustrating to use the "old" 4:3 style screens for some time now.
Amen. Editing in facing page view FTW.

Re:macurmudgeon (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143492)

A very large percentage of computers are bought for work. For home, where you might want to watch a movie, a widescreen can be nice. But at work, it offers no advantage at all. Personally, I watch very few movies on my computer. That's what my TV is for.

Brevity. Soul of wit. (5, Insightful)

Zigurd (3528) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143074)

Write shorter methods. That is all.

Re:Brevity. Soul of wit. (1)

Bob-taro (996889) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143590)

Write shorter methods. That is all.

Exactly! You young whipper-snappers and your high resolution monitors. When I started out we could only see 24 lines on our terminals, and we were THANKFUL!

not smaller (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23143086)

800 vertical pixels is more than 768

Re:not smaller (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23143272)

Someone mod this guy up! It seems that Santi Onta is mostly afraid of adapting to something different. Ol' Ned L. would be proud.

Move to Widescreen (1)

jchawk (127686) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143100)

Most if not all companies who are shipping laptops, Apple, IBM, Dell, etc... Are purchasing or sourcing their LCD panels to a third party. There are only a handful of companies left producing LCD panels.

It won't take much to force wide screen panels down the consumers throat. If one of the big names stops offering traditional panels, and then a second large laptop company follows suit, it won't be long before the price of normal LCD's goes way up in price. At that point watch for the rest of the manufacturers to follow right along and *poof* no more traditional LCD panels, or at least no more traditional panels without a *huge* premium.

Re:Move to Widescreen (3, Informative)

WuphonsReach (684551) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143258)

Most if not all companies who are shipping laptops, Apple, IBM, Dell, etc... Are purchasing or sourcing their LCD panels to a third party. There are only a handful of companies left producing LCD panels.

That basically covers the issue. Because of the large (due to the HDTV push) number of widescreen panels being created, economies of scale are coming into play. Which means that with less and less 4:3 ratio glass being created, prices on 4:3 are going up while 16:9 and 16:10 glass is getting less expensive.

(Personally, I like my widescreen T61. It's almost enough that I can keep two documents side-by-side on the screen instead of shunting the 2nd document off to a 2nd display.)

From an old thread (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23143136)

A commenter in an old thread had the explanation for this:

Widescreen monitors are about keeping the cost of LCDs high - providing a new "feature" that people have to pay for without actually providing any costly new functionality.

Some time after widescreen becomes ubiquitous you can expect them to reintroduce 4:3 monitors as the new thing.

Better for Development? (5, Interesting)

el_chupanegre (1052384) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143142)

I find widescreen is actually much better for development. I'm mainly programming in Netbeans or Eclipse and having the navigator on one side and the 'outline' on the right is great. On a standard aspect monitor, this leaves the central portion for working on code really small. On widescreen (I use a 20" widescreen) this central code portion is much bigger. It's much the same in Visual Studio.

Perhaps if you were only working in a text editor, maybe doing HTML or something, I could agree. Even then though, do I really need 100 lines on the screen at once?

I'd much rather have half the lines on the screen and be able to use the extra features of my IDE to aid in navigation and keep my concentration focused on the area that I'm working in.

How can they claim...? (0)

Kohath (38547) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143152)

How can laptop manufacturers still claim that they look after their customers when the move to widescreens is clearly a selfish one?
Like this:

"We look after our customers."

Do you have any more questions?

Well, Since None of us are Cyclops... (1)

jr76 (1272780) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143154)

As far as I know, the only one who was, was that kitty who died in a day a year or so ago.

And, as long as we have two eyes positioned as they are, it is more natural and comfortable to have a widescreen display with an aspect ratio designed for it.

I've been working widescreen for a few years now and it's far more comfortable to me.

Not to mention, the two window / document thing is (obviously) handy...

Right.. (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143158)

Less vertical space = less lines of code in the screen = more scrolling = less productivity.

Muahaha, who ever scrolls? I don't scroll when I code, when I look for something I / or * it, n/N my way through occurrences etc.. Surely I'd rather have it occupy my entire screen than a 80x25 terminal, but when I code I care more about horizontal space because when line breaks things look more confusing, so if anything you'd rather see me coding in an elongated window, something like 140x25.

Yes, it's an issue (2, Interesting)

skiflyer (716312) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143168)

Anytime you have competing form factors it's an issue... heck we had a glossy/matte screen thread here just last week. Personally, it's an issue for me, but for different reasons. I want 1000+ vertical pixels. And I want a small form factor that I can easily lug around. To get a 1000+ vertical pixels in a widescreen I need to have a 15 inch screen... 14.1 is my comfort limit. So I lose in this discussion. Not exactly a huge loss though.

For a long time.. (1)

sudog (101964) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143170)

.. widescreen of "equivalent" sizes to non-widescreen was actually more expensive. I could never figure out why people were willing to pay for *less* overall viewing area. It's really not a question of whether vertical or horizontal space is more important. Just multiply the height byt he width. Non-widescreen is bigger. Fewer pixels == cheaper to manufacture.

There's like.. one or two good monitors left that are non-widescreen high-res, sold at my favourite manufacturer.

Good for most people (1)

Odiumjunkie (926074) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143182)

I swear by widescreen laptops, for the simple reason that they let me read comic book scans in their native aspect ratio.

It matters! (2, Interesting)

jevring (618916) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143194)

Like the man said, vertical desktop real-estate is king! At home I run 2048x1536 (gotta love CRTs), and at work I'm stuck with 1280x1024. While 1280x1024 isn't a wide-screen resolution, it does lack in vertical space. Having a desktop space that is 1280 pixels wide is much less of a problem than having something that is only 1024 pixels tall. Unfortunately this screen isn't rotatable either, otherwise my problems would have been at least partially solved. Wide-screen is fine, as long as you don't skimp on vertical desktop real-estate. If I can keep my 1536 pixels vertically, I care less about how much you give me horizontally (to a limit, of course)

Re:It matters! (1)

leet (1202001) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143642)

I couldn't agree more. And I would add that wide screens aren't wide enough to really have 2 applications running side by side. I like 2 "normal" aspect ratio monitors side by side so I can have the vertical and the horizontal. I would think the only reason to go wide screen (I don't watch DVDs on my computers) is to have 2 apps showing and thus more desktop space. Wide screens that I've seen are right on the cusp of uselessness because they are not wide enough for 2 applications, but they are too wide for one application.

I don't like wide for reading either. Anyone who documents with good old Latex knows that it is type set to not have too many characters across the screen/paper for readability. I agree with this and wide screens contribute to fatigue when reading.

I wish wide screens would just go away. And the ones manufacturers have out now are not the same aspect ratios as wide screen DVDs anyway. There is nothing good about wide screens.

Think about the keyboard (4, Interesting)

Sniper98G (1078397) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143222)

One thing to consider in this is the keyboard. As laptop manufacturers make their laptops smaller and smaller they are almost required to use widescreens in order to keep the device wide enough to have a useable keyboard.

Matters, but it's what you get used to. (1)

G (2545) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143232)

I have one of the 1920x1200 mac book pros. Also, anytime I'm not on the road I have it dual headed to a 1680x1050 (both at home and work). I love it. I'd MUCH rather have multiple editors open side by side and have to deal with the scrollwheel on my trackball.

But still, I understand that everybody has different habits and I agree that the choices should be there.

Pixels vs inches here. (1)

Chas (5144) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143248)

This is the real determining factor here.

My brand-spanking new ThinkPad T61p sports a 1920x1200 widescreen.

This is more screen real estate than my last ThinkPad, an A31p (1600x1200)

I can view EXACTLY the same number of lines of code on each of them. Except now, if I have a line that's slightly longer than 1600 pixels, I can look at it without scrolling.

Sure, physical-height-wise I have less screen. Big fscking deal. My vision is perfect. So I can enjoy maximum resolution without squinting or needing the screen magnifier.

If you have that much of a problem reading smaller, high-resolution displays, get your eyes checked and get glasses.

Re:Pixels vs inches here. (1)

teslar (706653) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143460)

My feelings exactly. From the OP:

Less vertical space = less lines of code in the screen = more scrolling = less productivity
I used to think the same, so when I first got a chance to actually specify what monitor I'd like for work, I got myself a stupid-resolution monster screen (2048x1536@100Hz I think it was). And yes, it does improve the coding experience over a 1280x800 resolution on a laptop. But that's not the resolution you'd buy if you use the machine for programming, is it now? You'd buy a 1900x1200 or something along those lines - and I would say that 1200 lines are plenty for coding. If you still need to do a lot of scrolling, you probably either need a new editor or should rethink your code design principles.

No, It doesn't matter. (1)

clay_buster (521703) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143264)

They only make widescreen. So, no, it doesn't matter which ones you like better. Personally, I find that widescreens take up too much space on small desks or in cramped areas and that I don't like the wider bag that I need to carry it in.

external monitor (0, Redundant)

with a 'c' (1260048) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143274)

Just plug one in. Any way who wants to code on a laptop keyboard anyway. If the keyboard isn't an issue I guess you could use an iPhone to code, It's vertical.

Problem and Solution (1)

ViralInfection (1221188) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143280)

PROBLEM : RATIO CHANGE = LESS SCREEN AREA

SOLUTION : BUY A BIGGER MONITOR.

If you want to talk about productive, then get an extra monitor or two. Personally I triple span my Macbook Pro 17" via 2 other monitors.
I think it's great that they standardize the ratios, now if they could only work on increasing PPI (Pixels Per Inch) like Apple did, that'd be great.

I want 4:3! (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143300)

Having used an Inspiron 15.4inch with a 1600x1200 screen for some years, I recently had to get a replacement and all I could find were widescreen ones. As I use Dreamweaver a lot, I need lots of vertical space so I can have code, WYSYWIG and tools open. I had to pay extra for any screen above 1280x800 odd and eventually settled fo a 1680x1050 which is OK but still very cramped. Those extra 150 pixels make all the difference and the obsession with widescreen laptops sees rather shortsighted. My wife recently bought one too and after scorning me paying extra for a higher res is now regretting buying hers with the standard screen as she has to do way more scrolling on web sites now

Re:I want 4:3! (1)

Acer500 (846698) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143532)

I'm a huge fan of 4:3 too, I think most of the extra space on widescreen format is wasted. I'm looking for a monitor and I'm not happy to find that there are almost no non-wide alternatives.
I'll probably settle for a 1680x1050 too, but I'd be very happy to trade for those 150 pixels.

Buy Small Business Notebooks! (Dell/HP) (2, Informative)

lazy-ninja (1061312) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143598)

If you go through the small business sections of many computer companies sites you will find that they offer a lot of the features they took away from the home market. They are also often better machines for around the same price (if you spec/quote carefully). This is similar to the glossy vs matte screen post from last week... Example Latitude D530 from Dell: http://www.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/latit_d530 [dell.com]

One-liners (2, Funny)

Ken_g6 (775014) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143310)

if($laptopAspectRatio eq 'Widescreen') { print "all your code on one line!\n"; }

These laptops should make Perl one-liners at least a little easier to read.

Form factor (5, Insightful)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143316)

It's not just a case of the manufacturers being selfish. It's a form factor issue.

The biggest limiting factor on a laptop's width is the keyboard. Almost everything else you can shrink and expand without limitation. Resizing the keyboard is not as easy. By messing with the layout you can add or remove a row of keys but that's about it unless you want to significantly shrink the size of the keys themselves.

Add to that the fact that every centimeter of extra screen height equals a matching amount of extra case real estate in front that can't be put to very good use, where as extra width lets you expand the keyboard outward.

So, if you want a more portable laptop any shrinkage is going to have to come from the vertical instead of the horizontal. Also, many backpacks/bags/slip cases have the laptop inserted sideways so one that is smaller in that dimension is easier to get at.

GUIs should be changed for widescreens (1)

cptnapalm (120276) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143326)

Seeing as there is so much extra horizontal room with widescreen monitors and laptops, would it not make sense to use that space, rather than the smaller amount of vertical space for the interface?

Usability Issues (5, Informative)

Graff (532189) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143344)

Yes this matters. It is well-known throughout the publishing world that wide columns of text are harder to read than narrow columns. Our eyes are more suited to reading narrow columns of text than wide ones and having to jump from the bottom of the screen to the top of the screen to read the next column is not optimal. The current generation of widescreen displays and the way text is laid-out onscreen causes you to lose track of which line you are reading and it also causes you to slow down in order to better keep track of your vertical position.

A display with a higher vertical to horizontal ratio makes it easier to read and edit text on. Text columns are naturally narrower so your eyes have less problems tracking horizontally and the columns are also higher which means that there is less scrolling. It also means that menu bars at the top or bottom of the screen or window take up a smaller percent of the vertical presentation, which uses the display more effectively.

Widescreen is better suited to video and pictures than it is for text. It would be nice to have displays optimized for text so that people who work with text can do so more effectively. One thing I try to do to counteract a widescreen is to place as many elements as I can (toolbars, etc.) in a vertical orientation rather than a horizontal one. By maximizing my vertical space and using the horizontal space to stack bars side-by-side I do what I can to create a narrow, high space for text. It would be much better to have a screen that was oriented this way in the first place but if you can't find one...

Grammar nazi says: (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23143346)

Learn the difference between "less" and "fewer."

The griper is making an assumption... (1)

InfinityWpi (175421) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143358)

Okay, so, developers need vertical space.

Developers are also a very small portion of the laptop market.

This is like saying, "Why does Bose spend their R&D budget on better speakers? Don't they know that deaf people don't care about sound quality?"

Personally, I prefer widescreen laptops. Widescreen video looks better, games give me that 'peripheral vision' effect that comes in handy in WoW and FPSs, and I can just hold my laptop sideways for reading e-books and comics and have them be roughly the same dimensions as they would be in real life.

Re:The griper is making an assumption... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23143544)

Here I though Bose spent their R&D budget on marketing...

Their product line is the same as it was in 1989 but with an iPod dock added to everything.

Selfishness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23143362)

How can laptop manufacturers still claim that they look after their customers when the move to widescreens is clearly a selfish one?

Welcome to the free market, son.

If the majority of your customers want widescreen displays, and as such that's the direction you choose, that's pretty much the definition of looking after your customers.

Better for developers (3, Informative)

Kolargol00 (1177651) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143368)

Wide screens might be better for developers these days with heavy IDEs cluttering the sides of the display with palettes, panels, etc. Thus you don't have much surface left for your code (or it is so narrow that you have to vertically scroll a lot more). At least all other devs at my place envy my wide screen... ;)

They are looking after their customers... (5, Insightful)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143388)

The percentage of coders in the over-all laptop market is probably less than 1%. The vast majority of laptop buyers want widescreen. The better question is why laptop manufacturers would create a line of laptops for such an incredibly small niche.

If you think there is a large market for coder/laptops start up a business yourself and make a killing. I won't be holding my breath on that.

Best of both worlds? (2, Funny)

earthloop (449575) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143394)

I'd rather have a widescreen display, but one more vertical height than you can currently buy these days. Leave the width the same, just change to height.

no problem for coding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23143410)

Widescreen sucks bigtime, but for other reasons: presentations, multi-head setups etc.

Then coding this is not an issue: when I code, I'm always at a location with a real desk and an external screen that offers enough vertical space.

This is my fault... (5, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143442)

Sorry guys, ever since I started putting my homemade porn online, wide screens have become necessary.

If you know what I mean.

Not for laptops but... (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143458)

For desktop LCDs this doesn't have to be a bad thing, if the screen mount will rotate. Then you can have a 5:8 display instead of 8:5.

Dell Latitude D530 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23143496)

Dell has them:

http://www.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/latit_d530?c=us&cs=04&l=en&s=bsd&~tab=bundlestab

If you think your screen is too short.... (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143512)

...it's just not big enough, or you're not making good use of it. Expand some more of the properties/class explorer/help/design doc/debugger etc.etc. and you'll find the extra space useful.

The shape of most laptops are governed by the keyboard, not the screen. A quick check on my desktop keyboard without keypad shows it's about 13.5" wide. 13.5" wide is about 15" across, in other words, if you want a longer screen your laptop has to increase in size. If space matters, you'll prefer widesreen, if space doesn't matter get a 24" external or something...

I prefer widescreen laptops for development (2, Informative)

Jimmy King (828214) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143534)

While vertical height matters and is definitely useful, I find myself hindered more by lack of width than height these days. Try working on code in one window, with some reference code in another window, and maybe a website with the online documentation in another window without widescreen on a 15" or smaller monitor. Of course, you can mess about minimizing and maximizing back and forth, but a lot of times it's far more productive to be able to have at least 2 of those up side by side while maintaining enough width of the window to show the majority (or all) of the relevant lines of code.

Also, using a modern IDE like visual studio or eclipse on a 15" monitor can be somewhat miserable. Those are clearly designed to be used on a widescreen monitor, imo given the default layouts and how small your code window ends up.

Screen realestate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23143536)

This trend has been happening for a long time.

I do believe this issue matters because developers are used to using vertical real estate for most any new feature they desire to add. Menus, button bars, tabs, status bars, find bars, window manager/application bars. All of this stuff eats into your primary vertical viewing area. Which is usually vertically inclined, web browsing, document editing, code editing - all of which usually only incorporates a vertical scroll bar.

So the trends are for new application features to eat into your vertical real estate, while our vertical real estate is shrinking in real terms due to the growth of wide screens. This trend appears to be accelerating rather than abating.

IMHO, the way this should be solved is at the developer level. We need to stop inventing new tool bars that eat our vertical real estate and figure out reasonable solutions reside on the horizontal. And make more options for people to use the horizontal.

I use a start menu (or equivalent under KDE) on the left side rather than the bottom/top. I try and disable quick button bars where possible and use the menus/short cut keys. This saves some of that real estate. This mostly works, but some applications bring up the windows underneath my start bar since they make incorrect assumptions about it's location.

On the bright side, when screens get wide enough it becomes easier to do a side by side approach like a book. Two vertical sections rather than one. I like this end result, but not all applications play well like that. It would be nice to have some window manager type options that automatically resizes windows to a "book view" or side-by-side applications. I occasionally find this more useful than a single large vertical area might be as I might want two different files open at once.

Selfish? (1)

qoncept (599709) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143616)

Since I'm a developer and prefer widescreen, and it seems the vast majority of other users (other, being non-developers, accounting for perhaps 99% (yes, totally made up, but my point stands) of the market) prefer widescreen, just how "obvious" is it that the move widescreen is selfish? Anyway, if you want to develop and see more lines of code, why are you using a laptop?

Not just for cost (2, Insightful)

OpenSourced (323149) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143620)

I'd think that the move to widescreen is global, and not reduced to laptops. Desktop screens in bigger sizes are only widescreen. I think 20" is about the maximum you get in 4:3. Even these are in very short supply. 22" and 24" are just widescreen, and of course I don't think we'll ever see a 30" 4:3 monitor, even if that were desirable.

I think the laptops are adapting to a general tide in the industry. It's probably not economically viable to keep making 4:3 screens. Also, the laptops have an easier time growing horizontally. You can after all offer a better keyboard. But vertically there is nothing you can add at the "other side of the clap" that has user value.

Quit whining (1)

Dan East (318230) | more than 5 years ago | (#23143634)

It would be one thing if vertical resolution was sacrificed in order to change the display ratio, but that is not the case - extra horizontal resolution has been added. So I don't see why someone is crying that their display has extra pixels to the side.

If vertical resolution is so terribly important, rotate your display 90 degrees, set your laptop on its side and use an external mouse and keyboard.

Finally, I use IDEs all the time, and the extra horizontal resolution is worth its weight in gold. Gone are the days when interactive debugging meant the source code window had to be cropped down to nothing, because I needed variable watches, function stacks, class trees, a console and memory windows open all at once. Now all that is lined up the right side of the display, and I still have my normal editing layout to the left. The same has been true for pretty much anything I do - video editing with Premiere Pro CS3, photo manipulation with PSP, composing music with a sequencer (extra horizontal resolution is optimal for this), etc.
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