Monitor madness!
October 3, 2007 7:08 PM   Subscribe

What widescreen monitor will work well for me?

Here's the situation.
Home setup: 17" NEC 1770NX 4:3
Work setup: 2 17" Dell 4:3 monitors.

I really like having the dual monitor setup, so I'm going to upgrade my home rig with another monitor. I think I want to go widescreen for the main monitor, then have my 4:3 NEC set up vertically on one side. What's the largest widescreen monitor I'll be comfortable using with a viewing distance of 18" and taking the second monitor off to the side into consideration?

It is not possible to increase my viewing distance to the monitors as my desk depth is only 20". FYI, I am thinking about one of the Dell WFP models. Thanks!
posted by zackola to Technology (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Computer related activities are primarily software development, minor photo manipulation, and minor gaming.
posted by zackola at 7:14 PM on October 3, 2007

I have a 22" widescreen probably about the same distance away from me, and although it was slightly hard to get used to at first, I love it now. I wouldn't want to go much bigger, though...there is a such thing as too big.

What's your plan for the second monitor? Is it going to be a continuation of the main screen, or be displaying different stuff? Judging from how my setup is right now (22" screen is the only active one, and I have a 15" laptop screen next to it that isn't on because I couldn't get it to work how I wanted) I think you'd be fine if the screens were not displaying the same picture (as that would effectively make you have one massive monitor, which is what you want to avoid).

I hope some of that made sense.
posted by DMan at 7:15 PM on October 3, 2007

Best answer: The very best resource I've found for making a decision about buying a widescreen is this thread from Anandtech (the first post especially, but there's useful info throughout). If you're still trying to decide which monitor to go with in terms of models, have a look. (In terms of comfort vs. viewing distance, I reckon only you can decide that, but I wouldn't go any larger than 24", for what it's worth.)

There are some issues with ghosting on at least some of the units with the first revision of the new Dell 2407WFP-HC, so I'm waiting for the second rev, but that's my choice for value for money (given the current sale price, on the Korea site at least).
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:16 PM on October 3, 2007 [6 favorites]

Oh, wanted to add: I have a Westinghouse 22" LCD, and I'm surprised at the quality. It's not really a "main" brand in the business, and I'm pretty impressed with this. It has a resolution of 1680 x 1050, which works great for most apps. I had to increase the font size on most websites (MeFi is at 150% right now) but that's just my preference.
posted by DMan at 7:18 PM on October 3, 2007

Also, almost all 22inch wide LCDs these days are TN panels, and TN panels have a pretty terrible visibility at angles that aren't straight-on, so you may want to factor in that consideration when choosing a panel size. Other sizes may have a PVA panel or others, which, given your desk constraints, may be worth considering. Much more info is available in that thread I linked and other good review sites.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:26 PM on October 3, 2007

I just checked to see if my monitor had such a TN panel (yes, this involved strange movements that resulted in comments from my roommates) and I don't think it does. Stavros, are you sure that's how it still is today?
posted by DMan at 7:46 PM on October 3, 2007

Response by poster: DMan: Plan for second monitor is displaying different stuff. Most of the time probably either a book or documentation for an API or language
posted by zackola at 7:46 PM on October 3, 2007

Make sure that you get a decent comfortable range of viewing angles on the 17" when it's mounted at that orientation - some LCDs optimize the 'standard' horizontal range more than the vertical, and the visual shift can be distracting. Otherwise, a 24" widescreen + 17" vertical match up quite comfortably.
posted by arialblack at 8:20 PM on October 3, 2007

I love my Dell 2405FPW. In general Dell makes great LCDs.

I put my second 19" 4x3 Dell LCD next to it, in portrait orientation. Great for reading full screen documents.
posted by Nelson at 8:26 PM on October 3, 2007

I have a Mac at home and a Mac at work. I get so much more software development done at work because I have two monitors.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:57 PM on October 3, 2007

Stavros, are you sure that's how it still is today?

Yup. It's better, but still not great for TNs. Some are better than others. Have a look at the viewing angles in this review including some TN panels in current monitors, for instance.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:31 PM on October 3, 2007

(Sorry, by 'better' I mean 'better than it used to be'.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:31 PM on October 3, 2007

I love my Dell 2405FPW. In general Dell makes great LCDs.

the panel in the Dell 2405FPW is a Samsung PVA (i have one too and love it to bits). I think that when buying an LCD monitor it's generally a good idea to find out who the panel manufacturer is and find out the exact specifications.

i really like this forum which is how i found out about the Dell 2405 when it came out. There's a thread with a simple breakdown of the most common technologies used for panels.

as far as i know the newer TN panels don't suffer that much from viewing angle problems (still not as good as PVA though).

anyways, the best advice i'd be able to give is before buying anything go check it out in person at a store. LCDs can be more subjective than CRTs.
posted by canned polar bear at 4:36 AM on October 4, 2007

Best answer: The Anandtech forum mentions that Dell has a habit of bait and switching worse LCD panels under the same model name. If so, be careful about trusting reviews on Dells.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:34 AM on October 4, 2007

Best answer: I also love my Dell 2405FPW - it replaced my dual 19" CRT setup a while back. I've often thought about adding an additional 19" widescreen in portrait mode for reading.

One major consideration which brought me to the 24" monitor was the 1920 x 1200 resolution which is needed if you want to display 1080 HD content (in full resolution.)

I use a Divco Fusion HDTV card for receiving over the air HDTV which is nice every now and then when I want to watch a game or the news at the computer in 1080.

So, keep that in mind if you want your monitor to do double duty at some point in the future as a HD display.
posted by wfrgms at 10:50 AM on October 4, 2007

nth-ing the Dell 2407WFP. The web design guy is jealous.
posted by mrbugsentry at 11:33 AM on October 4, 2007

Response by poster: Interesting stories found about the Dell Panel Lottery. Sometimes you get a S-IPS, sometimes you get a S-PVA with the 2007WFPs anyhow. Kind of annoying. I think I might look for a used 2005WFP as they only produced them with S-IPS panels.
posted by zackola at 11:55 AM on October 4, 2007

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