How wide is too wide?
August 8, 2007 12:59 PM   Subscribe

Will I be disappointed with a 19" widescreen LCD?

My monitor just died. It was nothing special, just a high end 17" CRT. I dislike running at resolutions below 1280x1024, and I prefer 1600x1200+ for photoshop--my eyes don't seem to be bothered by how tiny things are at that resolution on a 17" CRT. I would like to replace it with a widescreen LCD, preferably one that will be a decent upgrade for watching movies.

The monitors I am considering are this Acer 22", this Samsung 22" and this Samsung 19"

My concerns are primarily if the contrast ratio and refresh rates are significant here, and if being constrained to 900 pixels in the vertical will frustrate me on the 19", especially in Photoshop. This is especially important because I am likely going to be using it for work in the near future. I am also somewhat obessive about image quality. I'm the type of person that will make a photo lab redo a print three times.

posted by [expletive deleted] to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
First, if you're truly obsessive about imag quality, why are you using an LCD monitor? CRTs have much more accurate color reproduction, and off-axis LCD viewing sucks. The only thing LCDs have going for 'em (image-quality wise) is sharpness, but only if you're using a DVI digital connection.

So perhaps you're not as picky as you think.

I have this monitor, with a vertical resolution of 1050px. I will say that on occasion I've been slightly annoyed with the height being a little too short, but this is rare; on the other hand, the extra width (small as it is) has been great -- YMMV of course, because I spend most of my time either writing code on wide lines, or using recording equipment (so looking at wide waveforms.)

As for image quality, on my particular example the screen is, if anything, too bright -- a concern mentioned in a few reviews, but one I didn't take seriously until I bought and used it. It's sharp, vivid, even across the horizontal axis, a great monitor. Still, there's nothing that will truly tell you better than trying one at a store, running native resolution via digital connection.
posted by davejay at 1:06 PM on August 8, 2007

You will be disappointed in the lack of screen real estate. I switched from two 20" CRTs to two 22" LCDs and am still trying to adjust to having less vertical space. Thankfully the width of the monitors, the desk space saved plus the hassle of moving the CRTs around makes up for it.

As someone who also used 1600x1200, let me tell you that 1440x900 is not good enough.

I can't speak to image quality, contrast ratios or refresh rates at all though.

(Do you want my two 20" Acer CRTs?)
posted by ODiV at 1:07 PM on August 8, 2007

Oh, and one nice thing about the wide screen format -- you can, if you have the need, open two browser or app windows side-by-side, each at the aspect ratio of a typical monitor (albeit smaller overall) without either seeming to be too narrow (and without needing to side-scroll web pages.)
posted by davejay at 1:08 PM on August 8, 2007

I live in 1440x900 on a 17" laptop screen. I'm in PS a lot, but I'm not a professional graphics nerd—I've found the 900px barrier a touch cramping at times, but generally not much of a problem. If maximizing your square-of-work-space feels important, I'd seriously consider opting for a monitor that sports a bit higher rez, but the added horizontal workspace is really pretty faboo.
posted by cortex at 1:09 PM on August 8, 2007

Seconding ODiV's comment about 1440x900 not being wide enough if you're used to 1600x1200 -- mine's 1680x1050, and my work monitor is 1600x1200, and I can flip back and forth between 'em pretty good, but down to 1440x900 would drive me crazy.
posted by davejay at 1:09 PM on August 8, 2007

Sorry, I had 19" CRTs. My mistake.
posted by ODiV at 1:09 PM on August 8, 2007

Oh, I should have specified that while I like CRTs, space is an issue. I barely have room for my 17" CRT, and if I want to go bigger, flat panel is the only option. Thanks for the offer anyways, ODiV. If I didn't live in Whistler, I might have taken you up on it.

I have also noticed that these days, the best quality LCDs rival CRTs in color and contrast, plus the sharpness of LCDs is very attractive to me. Fuzzy picture on CRTs really irritates me. The sharpness of LCDs at their native resolution is very attractive to me.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 1:30 PM on August 8, 2007

Actually there are LCDs out there that surpass CRTs (Eizo) but they are very pricey (as were good CRTs) . The Samsungs are pretty good I have no experience with Acer. My general theory is buy as nuch monitor as you can afford, there's really no such thing as to much screen real estate. The 22 is not only 150px taller but also 240px wider, that's about the width of most Photoshop palettes.
posted by doctor_negative at 1:34 PM on August 8, 2007

I'm was in your same boat. You are going to notice huge pixels on those monitors.

Buy a monitor with a higher PPI.

I'd suggest going with a 24" (1900x1200). If that's out of your price range, get a 21" non-widescreen (1600x1200).

I am using the 22" wide Samsung you linked. I hate it.
posted by mphuie at 1:40 PM on August 8, 2007

You might consider the Dell Ultrasharp line of better LCD monitors. They are the same LCD systems as the ones you find in Mac monitors.

My model is no longer made, but the Dell UltraSharp 2007WFP is the successor, going for $399 MSRP (you can find many Dell coupons). The LCD itself is the same, but some other differences do exist. Anandtech did a good comparison of the Apple & Dell monitors and found the performance nearly equivalent. YMMV.

I like mine a lot and was happy with the low price as well.
posted by Argyle at 1:55 PM on August 8, 2007

Seconding Argyle and the Dell monitors. I have the 2407 and it is a thing of beauty. I would definitely say go for the big 24" widescreen. It is totally worth the 1900x1200 resolution, and the Dell has component in's so you can get HD on it, no problem.
posted by Mach5 at 2:03 PM on August 8, 2007

Hmm, the Samsung 20" (206BW) of the same series has the same pixel count as the 22", so I'm leaning towards it right now. However, there is a lot of noise out there about the difference between the A and S series of this monitor, with the A panels being manufactured by a third party, with colour issues. Some websites claim that this can be overcome with calibration.

Damn you, free markets! Give the consumer less choice!
posted by [expletive deleted] at 2:49 PM on August 8, 2007

Same monitor, $75 bucks off after rebate.

Samsung 226BW

Another thing to consider is that Dell is starting to update its Ultrasharp series with technology that allows a much wider gamut- 90% of the NTSC gamut as opposed to ~75% with the older technology. These have "HC" after their model numbers, and in just a couple of months, I'd imagine this feature will filter down to the 19-22 inch monitors.
posted by Maxwell_Smart at 4:51 PM on August 8, 2007

Well, thanks everyone. I've gone with the Samsung 206BW, as it had by far the best reviews, from what I could tell, and it has the finest dot pitch among monitors I could afford. The Dell Ultrasharp series did look nice, but they were both out of my price range and not immediately available.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 5:00 PM on August 8, 2007

I just bought a Dell 2407WFP. I do a bit of coding, a bit of Photoshop/Illustrator and a bit of Final Cut Pro. I used to have a 19" Trinitron CRT and I can't tell by eyeballing it that there's any particular difference in color reproduction. I don't doubt it's there and if I ever do editing for broadcast I'll certainly invest in a studio-quality monitor, but I find it not to be a problem for web work. Love love love it, even though it was a bit pricy.
posted by Alterscape at 10:34 PM on August 8, 2007

I use two Dell 2407WFP (1950x1200) and even though I bought them when they were still pushing a grand each, I consider it money very very well spent. They're much cheaper now I think. I could never go back to a crt or lower resolution. A couple of colleagues have also bought them on the strength of my raves, and they too were very pleased. (I'm a web app developer)

If I was, say, outfitting a productive employee, I would figure on getting the $700-800 to give him/her dual 24" instead of dual 19" monitors back within 3-6 months in added productivity. No-brainer.
posted by lastobelus at 1:24 AM on August 9, 2007

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