Pixels not included.
March 28, 2009 1:02 PM   Subscribe

I'm at my wits' end trying to find a suitable LCD monitor to use as a secondary screen for an oldish Toshiba laptop.

I have an laptop, a Toshiba Satellite A30 with an intel 82852-GM graphic chipset. I would like to buy an external monitor to use it (mainly) to watch movies. My size and price requirements direct me towards a 22" flat panel, so I looked into the market for those. Speakers are not a requirement since the audio output from the laptop is hooked to a hi-fi system, and the input port should be the classic VGA.

First disappointment: I saw an LG panel that looked great, (WG2234, apparently not marketed in the US) but - turns out - the laptop is not able to drive the panel with its native resolution (1680x1050). A little research on forums pointed out that there are many laptops with that same problem - apparently all those that have that graphics chipset which - besides Toshiba - was used by Dell, Acer and others.

A possible solution that was presented would be to download a developer kit from Intel and compile a custom driver for the resolution/frequency of that specific monitor. I don't want to do that, since success is apparently not guaranteed and I'd need the monitor anyway to make tests, etc., with a sizeable chance (I think) to damage it or void the warranty by feeding it the wrong res/freq values.

Browsing the list of resolutions the graphics card is capable of, turns out that no 16:10 resolutions are supported, while 16:9 resolutions as 1920 x 1080 are, so I turned my search into 16:9 screens, such as this Samsung 2233SN (apparently marketed as SW in the US), which looks good and has the right resolution.

Second disappointment: I had the monitor ordered from the store and took my laptop to check if everything matched, just to be sure. Despite numerous attempts by me and the guys at the store, there was no way to have the laptop and the monitor hook up correctly: even when the laptop resolution on the secondary desktop was 1920x1080, the monitor would have two black lateral bands, and all icons and such would be horizontally compressed, so in the end I had to leave it at the store.

My only hunch is that the 1920x1080 res. from the laptop is actually a lower resolution, which is then supposed to be stretched to a 16:9 factor by the display, but other than that, at this point I'm out of ideas. Can you suggest alternative models or - preferred - a way to have the (Samsung) monitor work as expected?
posted by _dario to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
It looks like the maximum of your integrated graphics is 1600x1200. To get 1680x1050, you could try a tool like Powerstrip.

You're probably out of luck trying to drive 1920x1080.
posted by wongcorgi at 1:25 PM on March 28, 2009

I'd suggest finding an older non widescreen 21" monitor, they are usually 1600x1200 and you should be able to run that resolution with on tweaking.
posted by wongcorgi at 1:26 PM on March 28, 2009

Response by poster: thanks, but it's really strange since Windows (XP, looks like I left this out of the original question) actually lists all sorts of resolutions, including 1920x1080. I'll try and look into 4:3 21"s but they seem to be virtually extinct around here.
posted by _dario at 3:12 PM on March 28, 2009

Seconding powerstrip. It can convince many graphics chipsets to do all sorts of crazy resolutions.
posted by zsazsa at 8:12 PM on March 28, 2009

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