What’s the deal with widescreen monitors?

I understand that everything is going widescreen these days for media.  That’s great when I want to watch HD movies or the super bowl in HD.  However, I still have no idea why this is the current trend for computer monitors.

Maybe if I was a college kid living in a dorm room and my laptop/desktop was my main display for watching tv/movies, but it’s not.  It’s my main display for actually doing office work and development.  I have two 20” Dell monitors (non-widescreen) that have a maximum resolution of 1200×1600.  I love working on them. I can display full page Word documents with ease and developing is wonderful.  Having ample pixels to work with in height is just as important to me as a high performance machine.

Our department just ordered a new set of laptops for our users.  I’m not in IT so we have them give us their recommendations and order from that.  It turns out that they don’t have the time to nitpick every order so Dell has set up a new service where they have their current business model machines set to go and our IT department just clicks the order button. 

What kind of monitor did we get with our new business class laptop and docking station?  A widescreen Dell 19” E1910H.  It has a maximum resolution of 1280 by 720.  720 pixels in height?  Ouch.  That’s less than a standard 15” monitor with a resolution of 1024 x 768.  Today’s standard (in my opinion) for office machines would be 1280 x 1024 or more.

Here is a picture of the monitor with a Word document at 100%.  You can barely see half the page:

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Here is a picture of the monitor with a Word document at full screen.  It’s hard to tell in the picture but you can’t read the text.  this might be nice for an Excel user but for documents it’s terrible.

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Oh, notice the stand too.  Do you like the cardboard box underneath?  The stand only allows a slight tilt up or down.  It has no height adjustment or rotation.  In my opinion the Dell P190S is a much better office class monitor.  It has a maximum resolution of 1280×1024 and a stand that tilts, pivots and has height adjustment along with the usual extras like multiple inputs and USB ports. 

In the end I can say it was my fault for not verifying the details on every single line item (there are like 40 on a Dell order) but isn’t that the point of having Dell offer their recommended office equipment, so that my IT department or I doesn’t have to spend the time to do this?

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Matt Penner

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