Help me see what I'll be seeing
October 9, 2012 7:32 PM   Subscribe

How will a new external monitor work with my old PowerBook G4? ie. Help me unnerstand screen resolution.

• I've got a PowerBook G4 17"
• I want to run an external monitor
• I found info that says the G4 will run up to 1280 x 1024
• the monitors I'm looking at are 1920 x 1080 max
• I'm looking at around 23" size

What will happen if I plug in a monitor of that size and rez?

A) screen stretched?
B) screen blurred?
C) no problem?
D) explosion?
E) end of universe?
F) other?

The real problem here is I don't understand how screen resolution works with regard to physical monitor size and computer capability. I will not be offended if you explain to me as though I were 5 years old
posted by ecorrocio to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It depends on which Powerbook G4 you have. EveryMac has a guide to Powerbook G4s and screen resolution here. The good news? All of the 17" Powerbooks support up to at least 2048x1536, so a 1920x1080 monitor should be OK. Not sure where 1280x1024 came from.
posted by eschatfische at 7:43 PM on October 9, 2012

D is highly unlikely to the point you can assume it won't happen.
E would violate this important physical law, it certainly won't happen.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 7:50 PM on October 9, 2012

It should be OK. The thing that is likely to make the difference is the aspect ratio (i.e. the ratio of one side to the other). Modern monitors tend to be wider relative to the height like a modern TV. (e.g. 16:9 vs older monitors at 4:3 or similar) This enables them to make them more cheaply and still claim a large screen size (this is not always a bad thing, large wise monitors are nice to work at). If you try to squeeze one aspect ratio into another it will looked stretched. Graphics cards are quite capable of handling different screen resolutions, though you might have to accept having it slightly smaller than the max to get the ratio right.

As eschatfische points out all the 17" models do higher than the figure you quoted so it shouldn't be a problem so this is mostly academic. It does look like they all have DVI outputs though so you will have to check to make sure that is supported by the monitor or get a DVI to VGA adapter.
posted by tallus at 7:59 PM on October 9, 2012

There's an important aspect which has not been mentioned yet: mirroring vs. extending. That is, having both monitors display exactly the same thing, or extending your desktop to span across both monitors.

Obviously, with the former, the lowest number prevails, whereas with extension, each monitor can be maxed out. For maximum resolution choose "extend desktop" and be sure to check the box which allows you to see "all available resolutions". In addition, you can choose to make the external display be your "main" display (with menu bar on top, etc.) using thee "arrangement" section of the display control panel.

Hope this helps.
posted by ShutterBun at 12:44 AM on October 10, 2012

The 1280 x 1024 is the highest setting on the computer's displays setting. Does that not matter? Should there be one that corresponds with th monitor?
posted by ecorrocio at 7:27 AM on October 10, 2012

Once you plug in the external monitor, new resolution choices should become available. Your graphics card will have the final day, of course.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:25 AM on October 10, 2012

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