Monitor Resolution And Your Eyesight
In the beginning (more or less)..
..there was 320×200 resolution with the Commodore 64.
Then came MS-DOS and VGA with 640×480 resolution. It was good and there was much rejoicing. Then came Super VGA (800×600). And it was better. And there was more rejoicing.
Fast-forward to present. You can now easily acquire LCD monitors with very high native resolutions. The big-big ones have 2560×1600.
But the people aren’t rejoicing anymore.
Is there such a thing as too much resolution? Yes. And it matters, because for many, anything over 1280×1024 is just too much, mainly due to the fact there’s much squinting involved when running native.
You may have noticed over the past few years that OEMs and monitor makers are purposely downing the native resolution on LCD monitors. This is because too many people were complaining that they couldn’t even read the text under their icons on the desktop without upping the font sizes at least 4 to 6 points (which is a lot).
Some would say, “So increase the font size.. what’s the problem?” The problem is that applications “expect” you to run native font size choices, and when you increase that size, menus look a bit off, scrollbars (the bad kind) happen and so on.
Running the native resolution on an LCD monitor with standard font sizes is obviously the best choice for the best picture and general use. With that said, here are my recommendations if you’re shopping around for monitors.
To note, “optimum” means “the res you can see and read stuff the best with”.
Laptop 15-inch screen optimum resolution: 1280×800
The 1280×800 native res on a 15-inch widescreen laptop is “just right”, so to speak. Both Linux and Windows look best with this res.
Note: Yes, you can read things easier with Ubuntu Linux compared to Windows XP. All fonts are larger, thicker and much easier to read.
Also note: Laptop LCD monitors are typically better than standalones. They are more crisp, clear and have far less tendency to “fuzz” things on-screen.
Standalone standard aspect 19-inch flat panel optimum resolution: 1280×1024
This resolution on a 19-inch standard aspect (meaning non-widescreen) makes reading everything very easy.
Standalone widescreen 22-inch flat panel optimum resolution: 1680×1050
You can “get away” with 1680×1050 on 20 and 21.5-inch monitors, but it definitely looks best on the 22.
Standalone widescreen 24-inch flat panel optimum resolution: 1920×1200
Make no mistake, a 24-inch monitor is frickin’ huge. And while it’s true you can get a lesser resolution of 1920×1080, the extra pixel height makes a (literally) big difference.
And believe it or not, one can be had for $260 new. It’s definitely not an expensive as it was a year ago.
What’s the best for those on a tight budget?
The standard aspect 19-inch at 1280×1024. This is the one I usually recommend. They sell for as little as $120 new.
What’s the best for those that can spend more?
The 24-inch widescreen. Bear in mind it’s big and requires space. Definitely not for small desks. And if you have one of those hutch-style things, it may be too tall to fit. If this may present itself to be an issue, shop for one that specifically has a height-adjustable base because it will be required.