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Aspect Ratios
Aspect Ratios

People will argue until the end of time whether or not widescreen is better than traditional 4:3 monitors. Personally, I believe most webpages and most documents are much taller vertically than they are wide. So you want the most vertical space possible. I’ve heard the argument that with widescreen you can have two vertical documents simultaneously. But, nothing prevents you from having to vertical documents with even more vertical space on non-widescreen monitor. 1600 wide is really no different than 1680 wide when viewing two documents at once.

So at the end of the day, what really matters is how many pixels get on screen and for any user who’s been around since the days of CRTs, for the most part widescreen has been a big downgrade not an upgrade. If you are buying a monitor for the first time in today’s market I can see how widescreen would not seem like a downgrade. But since most CRT users came from using either 1280×1024 or 1600×1200 the equivalent widescreen models have been downgrades.

Historical Upgrade path:
Resolution Pixels

640×480 307200
800×600 480000
1024×768 786432
1280×1024 1310720
1600×1200 1920000
Widescreen upgrade path:
Resolution Pixels

1280×800 1024000
1440×900 1296000
1400×1050 1470000
1680×1050 1764000

I would argue that most users who had CRTs at 1280×1024 looking to upgrade to a LCD would have preferred 1600×1200 rather than 1680×1050. Unfortunately, widescreen monitors were much cheaper in comparison. Only recently in the last couple years have 1980×1200 become available at consumer prices. So I would argue that for the most part widescreen monitors have been downgrades rather than upgrades for anyone who has had a high-resolution CRT.

More recently 1920×1200 models have come out and they are still pretty pricey, some examples of very high rez monitors…

Todays higher resolutions:
Resolution Pixels

1920×1200 2304000
2560×1600 4096000

For me, when it comes down to it, maximum pixels on the screen means more to me than anything else. So 1.92MP is better than 1.76MP any day of the week, so i’ll be sticking with 1600×1200 until I decide to upgrade to a 1920×1200 model.

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