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Displays Hardware

Why Are We Losing Vertical Pixels? 1140

An anonymous reader writes "Switching from 1600x1200 to wide 1680x1050 to HD 1600x900, we are losing more and more vertical space, thus it is becoming less and less simple to read a full A4 page or a web page or a function call. What's the solution for retaining the screen height we need to be productive?"
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Why Are We Losing Vertical Pixels?

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  • Where.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by iONiUM ( 530420 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @12:55PM (#33811286) Journal

    Where did this obsession with Widescreen come from anyways? I understand for "widescreen films", but why are all monitors wide now? It's weird that it kind of slowly crept into the norm..

  • Re:Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @12:55PM (#33811300) Journal

    Sadly, this is what I've had to do. Unfortunately, it seems to be harder and harder to find non-wide-format monitors.

    So few apps are written to handle monitors with vertical resolution of less than 1k pixels, that these new monitors are getting rather obnoxious.

    I think UI design should have an option to put menus on the side now, to handle the wider formats.

  • by Temkin ( 112574 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @12:56PM (#33811330)

    The low-end computer monitor market is using commodity HD TV LCD's. The solution is to pony up and buy a middle tier monitor that does proper 1600 x 1200 or something aspect ratio appropriate.

    You get what you pay for.

  • Re:Obvious (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @12:57PM (#33811342)

    and pay more for the monitor than for the entire rest of the computer (including peripherals).

    The monitor manufacturers have been taken over by "All screens must be optimized for movie-watching!" types :'(

  • by gonar ( 78767 ) <> on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @12:57PM (#33811362) Homepage

    why is it suddenly so hard to find a laptop with a good screen?

    it is nearly impossible to find a laptop with anything other than 1366x768.

    my 4 year old 14" dell has a 1440x900 screen and at the time a fairly high end cpu/memory combo (core duo/1gb). I paid $650 for it.

    today I can't get a laptop with an equivalent screen for under 850. nearly all laptops don't even offer high res screen options anymore.

    just because you can market a 1366x768 screen as HD does not make it good enough. especially if we are talking 17" laptops.

  • Ha! That's easy. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @12:58PM (#33811374)

    We're now a culture that prefers consuming the latest HD pulp over reading.

  • Obligatory (Score:4, Insightful)

    by The Master Control P ( 655590 ) <ejkeever@nerds[ ] ['hac' in gap]> on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @01:00PM (#33811436)
    Obligatory XKCD []

    I too find it disturbing that displays have gone to 2MP and stopped. We were this close to being able to actually read a PDF on 100% zoom without squinting. WTF is going on?
  • Public transport (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tepples ( 727027 ) <{tepples} {at} {}> on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @01:00PM (#33811446) Homepage Journal

    The solution is just as simple: Develop on an external monitor (optionally rotated 90 degrees).

    Now figure out how to carry a portrait monitor and power supply on the bus. I thought the whole point of having a laptop was to be able to work in a vehicle or in a restaurant.

  • by pclminion ( 145572 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @01:01PM (#33811464)

    Have you ever actually benchmarked video performance on a rotated display? Even with hardware supported rotation, the framebuffer read-out order is no longer consecutive which completely fucks video performance.

    I seriously can't believe the suggestions... It's like saying "What happened to all the compact cars?" and you reply "Stop whining, just crush your car down to size." Why can't we just buy something in the form factor we want?

  • by Moridineas ( 213502 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @01:04PM (#33811548) Journal

    I rather think it depends on what you're doing. I work in publishing, and there are reasons most books are the way they are. Wide columns of text can be difficult to read. Obviously on a computer you're not just reading columns of text, but it does make a difference.

    If you've got a iPad, Kindle, what not, try reading in landscape vs portrait. Not everybody likes the same thing, but in general I prefer narrow columns.

  • by pesc ( 147035 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @01:05PM (#33811568)

    Do you read?
    Books, magazines, etc print text in portrait mode.

    Heck, the newspapers even print the text in several columns to avoid very long lines, as that makes text more difficult to read. (I hate programmers that create 200-character statements on one line.)

    For people using computers for text (documents, programming, etc) rather than watching movies, the vertical resolution is valuable.

  • Re:Deal with it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by denis-The-menace ( 471988 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @01:05PM (#33811584)

    Actually no.
    DPIs are now static because they expect us to use them only for movies. 1080 vertical pixels is all that you should need.

  • Re:Solution (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Captain Splendid ( 673276 ) <capsplendid AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @01:08PM (#33811664) Homepage Journal
    I think UI design should have an option to put menus on the side now, to handle the wider formats.

    ^^This. The problem isn't the hardware, but a mentality that still basically codes for 640x480 screens.
  • by hansamurai ( 907719 ) <> on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @01:12PM (#33811748) Homepage Journal

    Because the complaint about lost vertical space is not about gaming but about reading web pages and writing long methods, which isn't going to noticeably suffer at all from the framebuffer order.

  • by Lawrence_Bird ( 67278 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @01:12PM (#33811764) Homepage
    I think you hit it on the head.. this whole fixation on 1080p crap. If anything, DPI for computer monitors has been declining the past five years after a slow march to near 100dpi from 72 dpi. I am running two fairly ancient Formac 1600x1200 20"ers which are eactly 100dpi - circa 2002. Is it asking so much that 8 years later we have 2400x1800 on a 20" monitor for a reasonable price? Its become hard now to even find 100 dpi monitors at 20".
  • by harlows_monkeys ( 106428 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @01:18PM (#33811980) Homepage

    16:10 computer displays were great for watching 16:9 video on a computer. They had room outside the video for playback controls or status information. With a 16:9 display, you can't reasonably have any permanent status or controls without them overlapping the video.

  • Re:Where.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pla ( 258480 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @01:18PM (#33811982) Journal
    Where did this obsession with Widescreen come from anyways?

    Human eyes pan side-to-side very, very fast. They move vertically very, very slowly (relatively).

    You can do a simple test to prove this to yourself... Go find a pair of online short stories of similar complexity (same author and topic). Read one with your browser window set to a portrait-mode size. Read the other one with the browser set to a landscape mode size. Optionally, read a third with your browser set to an absurdly wide size (like 3:1).

    Your reading speed will increase with the wider format, and that trend continues until a single line of text takes up a whopping 80-90 degrees of your horizontal field of vision.
  • by aclarke ( 307017 ) <spam&clarke,ca> on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @01:24PM (#33812136) Homepage
    Because we're not all exactly like you, we all have different work habits and needs.

    For example, last week I had to travel a couple hours to visit a client. I could have driven, but I chose to take the train. Part of the logic behind this decision was so that I could use the time more productively. As this was "work time", shouldn't I have been working, according to your logic?

    Additionally, I'm self employed and work from my home office most days. Sometimes though, I like to get a change of scenery and go work from a coffee shop. Again, apparently you see a problem with this? I should stay at "home", doing my "work", instead of going out and working somewhere that gives my brain a different point of view?

    This summer, my family and I went to Europe for 5 weeks. I worked for two weeks and took three weeks of vacation. I guess then too I should have stayed at home and worked for those two weeks, and taken less time in Europe. Maybe I should have sent my wife and kids there two weeks early and then just stayed home that time, because I was working and goodness knows the only place I'm allowed to do that is in my own home (office).

    Hopefully I've made my point.
  • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @01:26PM (#33812190)
    Fair enough, but that is more we are gaining horizontal pixel but not vertical pixels. Not losing vertical pixels to the degree the article indicates.
  • by cfulton ( 543949 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @01:31PM (#33812306)
    In modern America one is not limited to purchasing things in the town you live in. Try the internet sometime. It has all the stuff you could ever want to buy for sale. Even monitors.
  • Re:Deal with it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wiredlogic ( 135348 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @01:32PM (#33812346)

    It's not an improvement and there's no way to sugar coat it with the excuse that you're getting more pixels overall. In almost all use cases text is rendered on screen horizontally (even in East Asia). Losing vertical resolution reduces the amount of information you can fit on the screen for any particular task. The extra horizontal space doesn't factor in since the only way to leverage it is with long lines of text which has negative consequences for ease of reading.

    We're getting less vertical resolution because there is a convergence of resolutions used for HD television displays and humdrum consumer level monitors. The manufacturers are taking advantage of the economies of scale. For those of us that were enjoying 1600x1200 back when everyone was wallowing in 640x480 and 800x600 it's a step backwards. Most people don't know what they're missing out on so there is no demand to do better.

  • Re:Rotate (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @01:40PM (#33812578) Homepage Journal
    Do not try to rotate the monitor &mdash; that's impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth: there is no monitor. Then you'll see, that it is not the monitor that rotates, it is only yourself.
  • Re:Where.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ossifer ( 703813 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @01:47PM (#33812796)
    Agreed -- once you hit some limit, more words per line means it's harder to shift to the next line.
  • Re:Solution (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @01:56PM (#33813070)

    As a software developer, I build my core functionality on my desktop (21" WS LCD, 1600x900) and develop the GUI on my netbook (1024x600). If it won't fit within 1024x600, you seriously need to re-evaluate your program's screen real estate some more.

  • Re:Solution (Score:3, Insightful)

    by water-and-sewer ( 612923 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @02:03PM (#33813280) Homepage

    I know this isn't a discussion about Linux, and I'm not trying to turn it into one. But I will say one of the things I love about KDE3.5 is that I can adjust all the toolbars the way I like, and I like to put them on the side. I've also got a monitor tilted 90 degrees, for the same reason: I want to see a whole page at a time, and want as much vertical space as possible. So for someone with those requirements, KDE3.5 is a pretty sweet desktop. I don't know if KDE4 lets you have that same flexibility or not, as I don't use it. And I dislike Gnome for that reason: I really can't move the toolbars around (that I know of), and that's important to me.

    So there you go, my comment is about ergonomics, not Linux. Carry on.

  • Re:Solution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @02:20PM (#33813664) Journal

    >>>Who puts words in their menu's anyway.

    People who don't like guessing what the picture is supposed to represent. "Does that S-shaped picture mean save, search, snake, or something else entirely?"

    BTW one of my chief annoyances with the Mac OS is the inability to quickly and easily switch between windows. You have to juggle windows around on the screen. i.e. It's stuck in the pre-95 era. The Windows & Linux tab bars are a very easy solution to that problem.

  • Another solution (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @02:28PM (#33813854)

    Don't be wedded to opening everything full screen.

    I do just fine by sizing my apps so they fill about half the screen horizontally. Added bonus that it leaves me half my display for another app.

  • Re:Solution (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mcsqueak ( 1043736 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @02:46PM (#33814238)

    In fact, I am typing this post on the rotated screen right now.

    No wonder your post looked sideways.

  • by orange47 ( 1519059 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @02:47PM (#33814272)
    I disagree, big pixels are not so bad, esp. because the price for higher DPI is probably poor colors, contrast..
    similar to cameras.
  • Backwards (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Shagg ( 99693 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @02:50PM (#33814318)

    You're not losing vertical space, you're gaining horizontal space.

    Just don't tell that to your wife.

  • Re:Solution (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @02:53PM (#33814390) Homepage

    Not necessarily - the "mentality" isn't all about that. Some tools makes no sense to run widescreen. Especially tools for software development where all sides already are used for something.

    The big problem is that every computer screen is manufactured the same way as TV screens and the manufacturers wants to save money and says that a widescreen is "better" for the customer.

    B.t.w. Widescreen/portrait has been around for a long time, even some text terminals like Facit Twist had it where the alternatives were 80x24 or 80x72 depending on which direction you placed the screen.

  • by T-Bone-T ( 1048702 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @03:14PM (#33814752)

    That's one thing I like about widescreens and Windows 7. Aero Snap makes it super easy to put things side-by-side. I use it almost constantly.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @03:57PM (#33815520)

    Video performance is totally unimportant when using monitors for word processing or anything else where portrait mode is preferable ... Any difference in performance is undetectable to my human eyes

    The problem is tearing not raw performance (fps). On a rotated monitor the refresh is perpendicular to normal scrolling, so anything horizontal like say the bar on top of a /. message has horrible tearing. Some people can't see this kind of thing, but if you can it's much worse on a rotated monitor.

  • Re:Solution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by linuxrocks123 ( 905424 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @04:09PM (#33815714) Homepage Journal

    This is brilliant. The topic of the article is, "why are we losing vertical pixels". Thanks to Libertarian loonyism, I've now read through comments on land ownership and the big bad government, health care reform, and now overly dramatized, tough-guy hypotheticals, complete with gender stereotyping (hint: most mugging victims are male).

    Libertarianism is the cancer that is killing Slashdot.


  • by amorsen ( 7485 ) <> on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @04:15PM (#33815802)

    Software (or rather, the OpenGL or Direct3D driver) has absolutely no problem rendering everything 90 degrees transformed. 2D is a different problem, but 2D is trivial in software on any remotely recent system. You can also render it on a texture and let the 3D hardware handle the problem.

  • Re:Solution (Score:2, Insightful)

    by osu-neko ( 2604 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @04:34PM (#33816134)

    OTOH, it looks to me as though this is more because HDTV based monitors are really cheap, not because the other monitors are expensive. I remember 1600x1200 monitors costing a lot of money back when they were considered high-end. Now you can get a 1920x1200 monitor for between $300 and $500 depending on size, and there are 2560x1440 monitors available for under $1000. What's really new is that you can get a 1920x1080 monitor for under $200.

    Well, no, what's really new is that the top end hasn't come down, like it did on all my previous monitor purchases. I've always bought a monitor in the $550-$750 range. It's just, each time I've done so, it's been a substantial upgrade from my previous, years old monitor in terms of resolution. However, my current monitor is over four years old, but if I buy a replacement today, for the first time since I've started using computers in 1982, the monitor I buy today for that price will not be a substantial upgrade, indeed arguably it wouldn't be an upgrade at all, but a downgrade -- I'd gain horizontal but lose vertical pixels, which I value more highly. I understand it's got a lot better for people buying low-end monitors, but the real change is that the progression on the high end has halted, indeed arguably it's backslid some if you value vertical pixels.

  • by TeknoHog ( 164938 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @04:49PM (#33816434) Homepage Journal

    Personally, I find on-screen controls incredibly distracting. When I watch a movie, I want to focus on the movie itself, not a GUI, just like you would in a movie theatre. A keyboard is fine for controls, at least in MPlayer which is designed for watching a movie instead of a GUI.

  • Re:Solution (Score:3, Insightful)

    by chris mazuc ( 8017 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @04:53PM (#33816522)

    More info please.

    Really? [] Your fingers broken?

  • by PsychicX ( 866028 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @05:44PM (#33817294)
    What monitor type are you using? Remember that most PC monitors are TN type, which have terrible vertical viewing angles. You don't normally notice vertical angles -- until you turn it sideways and discover massive color shifts. IPS screens (Dell has a whole line now) are vastly better.
  • Re:Solution (Score:3, Insightful)

    by clarkcox3 ( 194009 ) <> on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @07:20PM (#33818362) Homepage
    So, you're judging the Mac OS based on your experience with a version that was released 13 years ago? Should I judge Windows based on my experience with Win98? Should I judge Linux based on my experience with Slackware 3.0?

VMS must die!