Monday, November 26, 2007

The Easiest Work Space Upgrade YOU Might Be Overlooking - Computer Monitors

So, I'm a big fan of dual screens. In fact, I get a little claustrophobic when I have to use just one monitor.
Up until recently I had two different types of screens, one 19"LCD (flat panel) and one 19"CRT (bigboxybulky). Well, the CRT finally started dying, so I replaced it with a 22" LCD I found on sale. The extra space has been fantastic!

So why am I so excited? We're just talking about 3" right?

Well, not really. The amount of information you can see on screen is actually governed by your monitor's resolution. Each image you see, be it on a computer, cell phone, or TV, is made up of a series of dots or pixels. The greater the number of pixels per inch, the smoother the image will be, and the more information you can fit on the screen.
My 19" monitors had a native resolution 1280x1024 or 1,280 dots across and 1,024 dots down. The actual dimensions of my monitor are 14" x 11.5", or 161 square inches. When you divide the resolution by the surface area, you get the dots per square inch. This is sometimes know as pixel density. For every square inch on my 19" monitor there are over 8,100 pixels (fun fact: your standard 19" computer monitor is almost FOUR times the resolution of standard definition TV).

So, moving up to a 22" monitor SOUNDS like I get an extra 3 inches, or a 15% increase in screen size, but lets do the math.
Resolution of 19" = 1280x1024 --> 1,310,720 pixels
Resolution of 22" = 1680x1050 --> 1,764,000 pixels

This actually means that I've increased my resolution by 34%, or I've achieved a 34% increase in screen "size". That's pretty good for one little upgrade. I can now see a lot more audio on my screen at any given time, and with two monitors (one 19, one 22) I can see a tremendous amount of information at any given time. It really changes the way you use your computer.

Monitor's also tend to share resolutions over multiple sizes. Hmmmm, what does that really mean? Well, a monitor's resolution is not dependent on it's physical size.
15" = 1024x768
17" - 19" = 1280x1024
20" - 22" (wide) = 1680x1050
23" - 28" (wide) = 1920x1200
30"+ (wide) = 2560x1600 (!)

By comparison "HDTV" (if it's "full" HD) is called 1080p, but it's really a resolution of 1920x1080. As you can see above, computer monitors are already a higher resolution at a smaller size. The expectation with a 42" TV is that you'll sit far away from it, and that you'll sit closer to a 24" computer monitor. However, upgrading to a monitor over 22" might mean having to upgrade your computer's video card, or installing new graphics drivers.

Here are a couple examples of what two different resolutions will look like (click the pics to see them full size).

Desktop @ 800x600

Desktop @ 1280x1024

Sound Forge @ 800x600

Sound Forge @ 1280x1024

Sound Forge and Vegas on dual screens (19 and 22)


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