Large computer monitors

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Richard*, Jun 7, 2005.

  1. Richard*

    Richard* Agent

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    Friends: I currently have a 36" CRT monitor for my computer with a rez. of 800 X 600. Yeh, I know, pretty lame. It's what's left of my old Gateway multi-media machine (one of the first ever). I want to replace it with a large (36" to 40") flat screen monitor to be viewed at a distance of about 8 to 9 feet.

    All I see advertised are large wide screen, 16:9 monitors for movie viewing. Don't I want a screen with computer monitor proportions? I may want to watch an occasional movie on it, but it will be 99.5% a computer monitor.

    Then there is the question of resolution. If I get a very high rez. screen, won't the text be too small to see at 8 or 9 ft?

    Thank you for your help.
     
  2. AjayM

    AjayM Screenwriter

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    Depending on the video card it should be able to support "widescreen" resolutions. And yes the higher the resolution the "smaller" things will appear on the screen, for some things this will be nice, for others it will be a pain (like text). You can combat some of that by using larger default font sizes, etc.

    Andrew
     
  3. ScottHH

    ScottHH Stunt Coordinator

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    I can't tell you if you would prefer a 4:3 or a 16:9 display. With a widescreen display you could work with two applications displayed side by side (if that does anything for you).

    I agree with Ajay, you should make sure that your video card suppports the resolution of the monitor you are planning on purchasing. Flat panels work best at their native resolution.

    I was in an Apple store, and I was quite amazed by their 30" widescreen monitor. Even if you are going to buy your new monitor elsewhere, you could go to the Apple store and stand 9 feet from the monitor to "try it out". Apple lists their retail locations on their website. I see there are stores in San Jose and Santa Clara.
     
  4. Paul Padilla

    Paul Padilla Supporting Actor

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    Ajay hit it.

    Supported resolution and font sizes are a much bigger concern than 16:9 vs. 4:3. (If you find one that large...and 4:3 and that you can afford, that is.) Flat screen displays suffer horribly when not set to their native resolution. Even the 18" Dell's we use at my office run at 1600X1200 which leaves the text and icons pretty teeny at close range. That means for our blinder ([​IMG] it's a word) employees we have to choose to use large icons, 120% or larger fonts, etc. Even then there are certain applications that don't use the system fonts. If you need the image that large, maybe you should look into a projector.

    With the kind of money you'd be looking at for a flat screen that large you should be able to get a decent projector with a VGA input that won't suffer from the fixed pixel limitations. Of course, then you will run into the ambient light limitation of projectors...but it's an idea.
     
  5. Richard*

    Richard* Agent

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    Wow, thanks fellas,
    for the education. I now understand the importance of support for the monitor's native resolution, and using that native resolution. So, I better decide on the resolution I want before choosing a monitor, right? I'll try to visit the Apple store for sure. But, knowing my 8-9' viewing distance, what resolution do you well-informed guys think I will probably find most acceptable (assuming I have good vision)? FYI my video card is an ATI Radeon X800 XT (Dell XPS Gen 3 running XP Media Center Ed). I have too much ambient light for a projector.

    Then, are you guys saying that, as far aspect ratio goes, I could use a 16:9 for computer work without "distortion"? I mean, I thought that computer stuff was designed for a different aspect ratio. So, for example, if I open a jpeg file, it wont' be stretched from side to side on a widescreen monitor? Would it just be like I was viewing whatever I have open in a MS Window sized to 16:9 (which is something I probably do all the time anyway)? Is this what you mean by "supporting widescreen"?

    Thanks so much, Richard
     
  6. AjayM

    AjayM Screenwriter

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    You're video card should support most "wide" resolutions. Past that there wouldn't be any distortion, like viewing 4:3 TV stretched on a 16:9 set, if you opened up a picture viewer maximized it would appear normal, and the JPEG would display normally as well. It would be no different than if you opened up a 16:9 ratio jpeg right now on your 4:3 monitor.
     
  7. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    Like he said. You just end up with more screen area with a 16x9. What I would do if I were in your shoes is to find the monitor, and then find out what cards support it.

    Glenn
     
  8. Paul Padilla

    Paul Padilla Supporting Actor

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    Let me clarify a couple of things.
    Flat panel displays are also referred to as fixed pixel displays. This means that there are physically only a certain number of pixels horizontally and vertically with which to display any picture.

    For example...my pc is connected to my 50" plasma wide screen. The native resolution of the screen is 1280x768 which is roughly the same as the 16:9 or wide screen ratio (I fully expect someone to correct my math there). If that same screen were made in 4:3, the equivelant native resolution would be 1280x1024. So when you say that you could use a 16:9 without distortion, that really doesn't tell the whole story. If you use a wide screen (16:9) display, and the native resolution of that screen is 1280 pixels wide by 768 pixels tall...and you set your video card to the same 1280x768, then you'll get the best possible picture. Clarity, and proportion will all be optimum and correct...I.e. clear, and not squished.

    If you use the same screen above...with the same native resolution above...and set your video card to a smaller 16:9 resolution such as 640x400 in order to get things to appear larger (just guessing at those numbers there)...then the picture quality will suffer some degree of fuzzyness, but everything will still appear proportionally correct or not squished. You're using a smaller number of pixels to draw the same picture, so detail is lost.

    If your video card doesn't support these wide screen resolutions at all, then you're looking at picture quality issues no matter what.

    Hope that helps.
     
  9. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    He's right. To go on a little more, my 20" Dell has a recommended setting of 1680 x 1050, but I could use any other combo of pixels, but if I do that, especially with using any 4:3 settings, then I WILL get a stretched picture.

    That is why you have to get a video card that will support whatever screen ratio that your monitor has.

    Glenn
     
  10. Richard*

    Richard* Agent

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    Thanks Guys, Let's assume that I have a video card that will support the LCD monitor I buy, AND that I will use the LCD monitor I purchase at its native resolution. OK?

    So, then, knowing my 8'-9' viewing distance, what resolution do you well-informed guys think I will probably find most acceptable (assuming also that I have good vision)? Please remember this monitor is for computer use: e-mail and web surfing 98% I will set Windows XP for large fonts and anything else that is customizable to make text as readable as possible, (but as Paul P. pointed out, not all programs use the system fonts.) So, how about some suggestions for resolution and perhaps even some monitors in the 36"+ range.
    Gratefully, Richard
     
  11. Paul Padilla

    Paul Padilla Supporting Actor

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    You didn't mention any cost issues, but just FYI...you're looking at probably 3 grand for any flat panel that large...just want you to be prepared.

    As for resolution, in order to keep things native, and make things viewable at that distance, you're actually going to have to look for as low a native resolution as possible.

    Panasonic makes a 42" EDTV plasma with a native resolution of 852 x 480 which lists for $2999 and includes an ATSC Hi-def tuner and everything. Nextag shows it as ranging from $1,975 to $2,698. Mounting hardware would be seperate of course, but I wasn't able to find any LCDs that size with less than 1280x768 resolution which is barely doable on my 50" plasma at about the same distance including large fonts, etc.

    Others might have different suggestions, but this seems like a good direction to pursue IMHO.
     
  12. Richard*

    Richard* Agent

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    Paul,
    Since I already have 800 x 600 CRT, I was hoping to have something with even higher resolution, as I have trouble seeing *very* small print--even if I walk up to the screen! I'm not sure a plasma screen would be much of an improvement for me. I have a pretty bright room too. Perhaps I should wait a year.
     
  13. Joseph S

    Joseph S Cinematographer

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    There's no such thing as computer monitor proportions. Wider is definitely better for computer work. With a wall or arm mount you can turn them into portrait displays as well. You can get up to 2560 x 1600 with Apple's 30" Cinema Display, the Radeon you have won't do the optimum res though. (The Mac X800 does, as does the Nvidia 6800 Mac, and ATI 9650) You need something along the line of the Quadro, 3DLabs, or FireGL to do this on PCs. The Apple 23" will also do above HDTV levels at 1920x1200 and should work natively with the X800.
     
  14. Richard*

    Richard* Agent

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    Thanks Joseph,
    but if you have read the previous posts, you know that there is considerable concern about not being able to read text, which is what I do most of the time, if I go with hi rez. In fact some of the guys here are suggesting below 1,000 rez like 852 X 480. Remember, I will be 8 to 9' from the monitor. Even if I use large fonts, I could have problems with programs that do not use the system's fonts.
     
  15. Joseph S

    Joseph S Cinematographer

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    What about enabling the handicapped features? Haven't played around with these under Windows, so I'm not sure what they have now. Any chance that you could use a projector for this? I don't have an issue reading fonts with 1280x720 or 1920x1080i when viewed on my projection screen at about 12'.
     
  16. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Producer

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    In Windows you can also adjust the "dpi" settings, at least for CRT monitors. This is kind of a bizarre work-around, but it allows you to map a theoretical pixel to more or fewer than 1 actual pixels. This would allow you to use a big, hi-res display more efficiently wrt viewing text &c. But why are you sitting 9 feet from the monitor in the first place? Maybe reordering your arrangements would be a better choice than trying to hack your system so you can read a monitor halfway across the room?
     
  17. Richard*

    Richard* Agent

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    Thanks for your response Chris. If you can spare the time, can you tell me how does one change the dpi settings in Windows XP?

    Why 9 feet? Well, I sit on a love seat with my feet up on a hassock with wireless keyboard and mouse. It is quite a pleasant way to read my mail and surf. I would think that the normal viewing distance for a monitor of about 40" diagonal would be ~8 feet, no? I plan to hang the monitor on the wall in front of the sofa. It works quite well now with my Gateway 36" CRT monitor with 800 X 600 resolution.

    Thank you, R.
     
  18. Richard*

    Richard* Agent

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    Joseph,
    >>I don't have an issue reading fonts with 1280x720 or 1920x1080i when viewed on my projection screen at about 12'.

    I think that projection is a different thing. With text on an LCD monitor a letter of text is defined by a fixed number of pixels, I believe. So, when the resolution gets higher, but the same number of pixels create the letter, but the pixels are smaller, and so is the letter. With proj. I think you are actually magnifying optically the image. Can someone here confirm this please?
     
  19. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Producer

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    Under "Display Properties", which can be found under Control Panel or by right-clicking on the desktop, on the "Settings" tab, there is a button "Advanced" which brings up a separate menu, titled "[Your Monitor] and [Your Graphics Controller] Properties". Under the "General" tab of this menu, it says something like "Display: If your screen resolution makes screen items too small to view comfortably, you can increase the DPI to compensate. To change font sizes only, click Cancel and go to the Appearance tab." Under this is pulldown menu which should have several choices, one of which is "Custom Settings".
    For reference, NTSC with 480 visible lines is meant to be viewed from about 5-6 screen heights. HiVision with a little more than 1000 visible lines was designed for 3 screen heights' viewing distance. None of this stops people with fancy deinterlacers and projectors and so forth from sitting as close as 1.5 screen heights, even on NTSC-type material such as DVDs.
     
  20. Paul Padilla

    Paul Padilla Supporting Actor

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    Hey Richard...I didn't check in over the weekend.

    The DPI settings that Christopher mentions are actually the same tweak I've already been talking about, vs. increasing fonts alone. It's in the display properties>settings tab>advanced section.

    I understand the concern since you're starting at 800x600 with your CRT but the whole point here is to get things legible at your viewing distance. With a screen like I mentioned you're starting with things larger natively, and gaining 4 inches of physical screen size. (or 14 inches if you can swing a 50incher.) Starting with a screen with lower native resolution will mean less tweaking to get things to a comfortable size. For this application, higher resolution does not necessarily translate to a better picture as it would if you were HDTV shopping. If fact, it's the opposite in a way, in that the higher rez screen you buy, the more you're going to have to fight to tweak things to make it comfortable.

    You can actually play with the DPI setting above on your CRT...it isn't limited to flat screens. There are two stock settings...96dpi and 120dpi. The final choice is custom where you can type in numbers up to 500% of normal size. Make sure you highlight the entire number including the percent sign or it won't accept the large numbers. Or you can click and drag on the ruler you'll see to adjust the size. You'll see a preview of what things will look like. A reboot is required with each change so it can take a little time to play with this setting.
    You see the quandry here...higher native resolution=larger desktop area=everything is smaller. Again, you're not gaining any clarity by going for a higher resolution when you'll have to be tweaking everything so much. And the bright room will only be a factor for projection.
     

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