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The End of Non-Widescreen Laptops? 668

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the aspect-ratios-give-me-shivers dept.
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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The End of Non-Widescreen Laptops?

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  • by kmsigel (306018) * on Monday April 21, 2008 @09:15AM (#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.
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Monday April 21, 2008 @09:17AM (#23142900) Journal
    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 ...
    • 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: (Score:2, Informative)

      by MightyYar (622222)

      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 jum

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MrMacman2u (831102)

      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 wh

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by Telvin_3d (855514)
      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.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Andy Dodd (701)
        About the only place I see "Full Screen" (what a misleading name!) movies is WalMart. They've lost out on quite a few sales due to only having the FS version of a particular movie, while most other stores will only have the WS version.

        The OP accused manufacturers of going widescreen to save money, but the truth is that the market wants widescreen because there is now so much widescreen content. 4:3 laptops just don't sell any more except to niche markets (pretty much corporate-only). Most corporate users
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cayenne8 (626475)
      "However, most DVDs are non-widescreen "

      I dunno what dvd's you are buying, but most of mine are widescreen. Thankfully, most movies are coming out at their true aspect ratio...and even some old dvd's are being reissued in true aspect instead of the pan and scan they came out on originally. I hate missing out on so much of the picture.

      A lot of tv shows, older ones are in a square aspect...but, most new shows I'm seeing are being prepped for HD...and are in a widescreen aspect ratio.

      So, there are some tha

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jimicus (737525)

      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.

      Tell me, how do they get on with getting assurances that the motherboards aren't made in China and the final product assembled elsewhere?

      (This is a genuine question; I was under the impression that Dell bought most of the components from China then assembled them close to the customer in order to maintain their "build-to-order" business model).

  • Use a desktop (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KingSkippus (799657) * on Monday April 21, 2008 @09:19AM (#23142974) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by freaker_TuC (7632) on Monday April 21, 2008 @09:19AM (#23142984) Homepage Journal
    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...
    • by blackcoot (124938)
      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... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Thelasko (1196535) on Monday April 21, 2008 @09:20AM (#23142988) Journal
    they were the same aspect ratio as an HDTV.
    • by way2trivial (601132) on Monday April 21, 2008 @09:28AM (#23143240) Homepage Journal
      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
    • 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
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I just ditched my 8:5 laptop for a 16:10. It's four times as good.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Chabil Ha' (875116)
        I do this. I have two widescreens tilted at 90 degrees so the I get not only really good vertical space for coding, but great horizontal space for many applications.
    • 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).
  • 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.
    • by reboot246 (623534)
      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.
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      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.
    • by Sockatume (732728)
      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.
  • X Series (Score:5, Informative)

    by kotj.mf (645325) on Monday April 21, 2008 @09:20AM (#23142996)
    > Today Lenovo retired the last NON-widescreen laptop they offered

    Really? [lenovo.com]

    • Re:X Series (Score:4, Interesting)

      by skiingyac (262641) on Monday April 21, 2008 @11:19AM (#23145828)
      Also a lot of tablet PCs (the X61t as well as many others) still come in a 4:3 aspect ratio, since that closely matches 8.5" by 11", which makes sense since a tablet is often for either viewing or writing something the standard size of a piece of paper.

      Viewing an entire 8.5" by 11" document on a widescreen monitor doesn't work, unless its a 20"+ screen and you view the document in portrait orientation on 1/2 of the screen. I don't think 4:3 screens are going to disappear.
  • 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.
  • Solution! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Shark (78448) on Monday April 21, 2008 @09:21AM (#23143016)
    We could all learn to use laptops sideways for coding:

    Boss: Why are you lying down?
    You: To be more productive!
  • by Puls4r (724907) on Monday April 21, 2008 @09:22AM (#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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by swillden (191260)

      In addition, long code statements won't fit on a narrow screen

      Two words: Line breaks

      They not only make your code fit better on a narrow screen, they also make it more readable. Also, if you're indenting so far that you need the horizontal space, you really should refactor -- your function is too complex.

      Although the old standard of 80 columns is no longer required for printing, it's still a pretty good idea.

  • X61? (Score:3, Informative)

    by outZider (165286) on Monday April 21, 2008 @09:22AM (#23143060) Homepage
    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 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ccozan (754085)
    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 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by macurmudgeon (900466) on Monday April 21, 2008 @09:22AM (#23143068) Homepage
    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 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MrMacman2u (831102) on Monday April 21, 2008 @09:25AM (#23143134) Journal
      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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Tony Hoyle (11698)
        Your natural tendency is to look left and right, not up and down.

        I've heard this theory before but it's definately not true in my case, and I suspect a lot of other people (that's assuming the theory isn't complete BS). It seems to have been invented when they came out with widescreen TVs originally, a few years ago... salesmen used to use it as part of their patter.

        I really notice the missing top/bottom on widescreen displays - sure they're cheaper but you've lost data.. instead of creating a 1280x1024 di
      • ugh! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by rantingkitten (938138) <(kitten) (at) (mirrorshades.org)> on Monday April 21, 2008 @07:51PM (#23153216) Homepage
        The problem is that the "widescreen" displays being offered are, by and large, no more wide than were your old displays. That's what ticks me off the most. 1280x1024 was a decent resolution a couple of years ago. But then "widescreen" came out and, oh, what do we have?

        1280x900. Gee whiz, thanks! Since it's now clearly rectangular it's "wide", but all they really did was cut off one or two hundred pixels from your vertical rez. Exactly how did I benefit from this? Drives me absolutely insane. Finding laptops above 900 pixels vertical is quite a chore; I know, because I've spent quite a while pricing them out for work and I refuse to go below 1050.

        I like my 1680x1050 screens just fine, but they still don't compare to the 1600x1200 screens of yore, which are nearly impossible to find these days. Sacrificing 80 pixels in the horizontal to gain that kind of vertical resolution is fine by me.

        I realise everyone's needs and preferences are different, but I am so, so tired of manufacturers touting this OMFG WIDESCREEN garbage like it's the second coming, when in reality it's just as wide as it was before, and significantly less tall.
  • by Zigurd (3528) on Monday April 21, 2008 @09:22AM (#23143074) Homepage
    Write shorter methods. That is all.
    • by slim (1652) <john AT hartnup DOT net> on Monday April 21, 2008 @10:12AM (#23144276) Homepage

      Write shorter methods. That is all.
      I don't know to what extent you were joking, but I agree with this. If your blocks are significantly more than 50 lines long, there's something wrong.

      The Linux coding style guide [reptiles.org] contains wisdom on this:

      "Functions should be short and sweet, and do just one thing. They should fit on one or two screenfuls of text (the ISO/ANSI screen size is 80x24, as we all know), and do one thing and do that well."
      And something similar goes for width:

      "Now, some people will claim that having 8-character indentations makes the code move too far to the right, and makes it hard to read on a 80-character terminal screen. The answer to that is that if you need more than 3 levels of indentation, you're screwed anyway, and should fix your program."
      I must admit to often failing to live up to those ideals, but that doesn't mean they're good aims to have in mind.
  • 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 manufact
    • by WuphonsReach (684551) on Monday April 21, 2008 @09:29AM (#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.)
  • by el_chupanegre (1052384) on Monday April 21, 2008 @09:25AM (#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.

  • 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 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by skiflyer (716312) on Monday April 21, 2008 @09:26AM (#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.
  • .. 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.
  • I swear by widescreen laptops, for the simple reason that they let me read comic book scans in their native aspect ratio.
  • It matters! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jevring (618916)
    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 v
    • by coats (1068)
      Rumor has it that Google's programmers use dual 24-inch monitors--side by side, in portrait instead of landscape. That gives you 120-line edit windows easily, with room for multiple edit windows side-by-side. Btw, at the office are you running Linux or Windows? If the former, you can add a "virtual display" line to your xorg.conf file that will give you a bigger screen area that you can pan around in with your mouse. UI do a lot of very high res environmental modeling, so I use a *huge* 3200x2400virtual
  • by Sniper98G (1078397) on Monday April 21, 2008 @09:28AM (#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.
  • 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
  • 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
  • One-liners (Score:3, Funny)

    by Ken_g6 (775014) on Monday April 21, 2008 @09:31AM (#23143310) Homepage
    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 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Telvin_3d (855514) on Monday April 21, 2008 @09:31AM (#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.
  • Usability Issues (Score:5, Informative)

    by Graff (532189) on Monday April 21, 2008 @09:32AM (#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...
    • by tepples (727027) <tepples AT gmail DOT com> on Monday April 21, 2008 @10:03AM (#23144090) Homepage Journal

      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.
      Newspapers came up with a solution to the mess of long lines years ago: they added multiple columns. Is it that hard to unmaximize a web browser, resize it to half the screen width, and put another page into a second window?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by skiflyer (716312)
        yes... am I alone on this? I find resizing windows to be a serious PITA. With the exception of my IM window, I never use a non-maximized window. I really don't know what it is, but I just hate non-maximized windows... Oddly, I don't mind windows that maximize to a non-full screen size.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by iangoldby (552781)

      Our eyes are more suited to reading narrow columns of text...

      I try... to place as many elements as I can (toolbars, etc.) in a vertical orientation rather than a horizontal one.... I do what I can to create a narrow, high space for text.

      Would I be right in thinking that you tend to work with maximised windows?

      I suspect that a great deal of the argument about wide-screen monitors (even if not in this particular case) comes down to those who prefer working with maximised windows, so that the aspect ratio of

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Graff (532189)
        Oh and it just occurred to me that Slashdot is a fantastic example of how a narrower window doesn't help much. I like to use the nested view (WITHOUT the new discussion system, thank you!) and if I made my window narrower in order to shorten the comments to a more readable width I'd end up with some of the deeper nested comments being much smaller in width than the shallowly nested comments.

        What would be nice is if I could make my window as wide as I want but have the text within each comment turned into c
  • 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 di
  • by Kolargol00 (1177651) on Monday April 21, 2008 @09:33AM (#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... ;)
  • by Anita Coney (648748) on Monday April 21, 2008 @09:34AM (#23143388) Homepage
    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.
  • by earthloop (449575) on Monday April 21, 2008 @09:34AM (#23143394) Homepage
    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.
  • Last I checked, the Thinkpad X61 and X61s were still 4x3.
  • by eln (21727) on Monday April 21, 2008 @09:36AM (#23143442) Homepage
    Sorry guys, ever since I started putting my homemade porn online, wide screens have become necessary.

    If you know what I mean.
  • 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.
  • Not just for cost (Score:3, Insightful)

    by OpenSourced (323149) on Monday April 21, 2008 @09:43AM (#23143620) Journal
    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.

  • Golden Rectangle (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bob-taro (996889) on Monday April 21, 2008 @09:48AM (#23143750)

    I don't know if this is a factor in the move to wide screens or not, but supposedly the golden rectangle [wikipedia.org] is the most visually pleasing rectangle. It has an aspect ratio of 1.618.

  • by artifex2004 (766107) on Monday April 21, 2008 @09:48AM (#23143752) Journal
    The form factor allows for a lot less wasted space below, where the keyboard is, for a device that's overall smaller and easier to carry and stick on small tables. This seems like it was written by someone who never actually carries a laptop around, or just lugs it between desks and plugs it in.

    If you're only using it at a desk, why not just buy a desktop and a widescreen monitor that you turn 90 degrees, so you can get full page views? (Actually, there have been laptops offering detachable, rotatable screens, but they have not been that popular)

    I just opened my Macbook's terminal window and expanded it to full size. Got 209x53. That's on a 13 inch widescreen, with OSX's nonremoveable menubar and other window dressing, Monaco 10 pt. Unless you've got a cumbersome IDE, is that really not good enough for coding on the go?
  • by CarpetShark (865376) on Monday April 21, 2008 @10:39AM (#23144882)
    There's nothing wrong with widescreen. It's more suited to our eyes for watching movies, and it forces developers to consider how their app looks and feels when tiled on the screen and used in conjunction with other on-screen apps (ie, *gasp* multitasking) instead of being maximised all the time as if it where the only app.

    Widescreen is also great for developers, artists, designers, writers, and many other professionals, since you can rotate the screens and get a vertical, page-oriented layout.

    BUT, the problem is that rotation is rarely supported -- not on laptops, or on monitor stands. On graphics cards, it's "supported" usually, but without acceleration, which sucks. How hard can it be to rotate 90% before applying an operation on today's super-fast graphics cards?
    • Years ago, I remember the "Radius" monitors that were sold as higher-end displays for Apple Macs. They easily rotated the 4:3 aspect screen between a "portrait" and a "landscape" mode, and as I recall, the computer received a signal that it was rotated (mercury tilt sensor in the display, I guess?), so it would automatically flip the video signal to match it.

      Seems like that whole thing never really caught on though, and I don't see why not? I'd love to have a wide-screen notebook that would allow you to p
  • by Captain Spam (66120) on Monday April 21, 2008 @10:58AM (#23145340) Homepage
    Whining Dev: "Waaah! This 1280x1024 screen is too small! I can't see all my code on it!"
    Manufacturer: "All right, fine, here's a 1600x1200 screen."
    WD: "Wellll... okay, you live THIS time..."
    DVD Watcher: "Hey! Why can't I watch my DVDs in widescreen on my laptop?"
    M: "Fine, fine, here's a 1920x1200 screen."
    DW: "Yaaaaay! And my desktop looks so much bigger, too!"
    WD: "HEY HEY HEY! What the hell is this? My screen isn't tall enough now! I want more height so I can see more code!"
    M: "But... but that's the exact same screen height you used to have and just bugged for a few minutes ago. It's the width that's-"
    WD: "TALLER SCREEN NOW FOR I AM INCAPABLE OF RUNNING MY CODE EDITOR NOT-MAXIMIZED AND IT IS WHOLLY INCOMPREHENSIBLE FOR ME TO FIND OTHER USES FOR THE EXTRA WIDTH"
    M: *deep sigh*
  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Monday April 21, 2008 @11:13AM (#23145674) Homepage
    I'm a developer. Widescreen also means longer lines of code before wrapping, so less vertical scrolling.

    I'm not all that put out, honestly. I've got a 1680x1050 widescreen on my laptop, and if it were 1600x1200 I'd get a few extra lines of text, but big deal. My previous favored resolution was 1280x1024, so I actually get more pixels in both dimensions.

    I can also watch 16:9 movies on it when I'm not coding, and I like that feature more.
  • by PMuse (320639) on Monday April 21, 2008 @11:19AM (#23145814)
    Just think of widescreen as bonus. Your previous machine had a 4:3 area of 1024x768. Your new machine has a 4:3 area of 1066x800. Plus, it has a 213x800 sidebar. Why are you complaining about that?

    What you should be complaining about is the inability of Windows and many of the apps to negotiate a dual-monitor configuration.
    1. Will the dialog box appear (a) centered in monitor 1, (b) centered in monitor 2, or (c) split across them at the mean of the monitor 1 + monitor 2 coordinates?
    2. Got that figured out? OK, now swap the left-right positions of monitors 1 and 2 while the apps are running. Where will that dialog box show up now?
    3. If monitor 2 is removed, how will you get the apps being displayed there to redisplay themselves on monitor 1?


    It's long past time that Windows and its apps got some standards of behavior in the multi-monitor world.
  • by CODiNE (27417) on Monday April 21, 2008 @11:29AM (#23146052) Homepage
    Put the laptop on it's side. Now you've got the tallest laptop screen in the coffee shop man. Everyone will be all "Ohhh is that the new Mac laptop I heard about?"
  • by CharlieG (34950) on Monday April 21, 2008 @11:37AM (#23146228) Homepage
    I'm a developer, and got my first wide screen display about 6 weeks ago. I'd never go back. Most of my routines are fairly short, but because I tend to use DESCRIPTIVE names for things, my lines tend to be LONG - I actually scroll a heck of a lot LESS with a wide screen
  • by rjamestaylor (117847) <rjamestaylor@gmail.com> on Monday April 21, 2008 @11:41AM (#23146336) Journal
    Why kick against the goads of commerce and progress? Why complain about that which you cannot change? You are flotsam on the sea of technology...

    Besides, my MacBook is pretty and trendy and makes me look smart.

    Actually, I've come to like the wide-screen format for placing my IM buddy list on the left and OSX dock on the right. It works nicely. Code? Yeah, that's mainly what I look at all day. The center area for content and side areas for BS is the Slashdot model!

    Actually... that's the point. Since Slashdot began its been begging for a wide screen monitor. The OEMs are finally giving into the Slashdot imperator by providing Slashdot-optimized widescreen monitors!
  • Consider Scrolling (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stewbacca (1033764) on Monday April 21, 2008 @12:24PM (#23147248)
    One thing to consider is that, as users, we've grown much more accustom to scrolling up and down, but scrolling left/right is still pretty awkward. Widescreen allows less left/right scrolling and keeps us scrolling the way we are used to (up/down).

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