Caution, we are getting into rant territory with this one. You were warned. Grin. What make and model notebook are you using? What is the size of your screen? What is the native resolution of the screen?
I really wish I had kept track of all the notebook computers I’ve used or tested over the years. Somewhere about 2003 I became a high resolution screen snob. I mean really. Remember the first time you saw a 14.1" SXGA+ 1400×1050 screen? Pure bliss. How about a 15.4" WSXGA+ 1680×1050 screen? Bliss again.
By the time these competing standards were pervasive, it was official. I became a high resolution snob. Is it any wonder I detest the current crop of notebook computers?
Resolution isn’t the only issue. The aspect ratio movement has really screwed everything up. Somewhere along the line someone decided notebook computers needed to have widescreen formats so they all switched from 4:3 ratio screen and resolutions to 16:10 ratio screens and resolutions. That switch by the screen suppliers and OEMs wasn’t terrible. In fact, it gave us my favorite screen. The 15.4" 1680×1050 WSXGA+ screen. Perfect vertical and horizontal real estate for business professionals and technical personnel. The font size is on the small side for the elderly and my wife certainly doesn’t dig it, but adjusting the DPI up to 125% is a pretty good workaround for most people.
Around the same time things started to get a little overboard. Suppliers and OEM’s started making and supplying 15.4" high resolution WUXGA 1920×1200 screens. If you have really good eyes, and the screen is good and bright, this was a great resolution for coders or spreadsheet fanatics that need more horizontal resolution. My first notebook with this screen was the legendary Dell Latitude D820. The fonts were too small so upping the DPI to 125% was pretty much mandatory for me and my poor eyesight.
Then comes the 16:9 revolution. I totally get that we need killer HDTV screens at this aspect ratio. I can almost understand consumer notebooks and netbooks might be more attractive with this widescreen ratio, but business computers? Not so much.
I’ve heard and read some of the arguments on the internet. Supposedly it’s cheaper to manufacture 16:9 screens. I’m not sure I buy that. Even if I do, what’s up with the crazy screen resolutions on the market? You basically get three choices now. 1366×768, 1600×900 and 1920×1080. If that isn’t bad enough, the actual quality of the screens being made seems to have eroded, too. I am referring to the "mainstream" "business class" screens for 13, 14 and 15" notebook computers. Combine a 1366×768 resolution with a matte screen with poor viewing angles and you have a recipe for dissatisfaction.
I really hope the notebook makers do something creative with the ultra thin and mobile machines coming out. The ThinkPad X220 with the 12.5" IPS screen was a step in the right direction but I’m still concerned about the resolution for the machines being made now. You should be too.
[UPDATE for 6/6/2011] Here’s a real good example. Look at the new Acer TimelineX Series information at http://www.engadget.com/2011/06/07/acer-announces-redesigned-aspire-timelinex-series-laptops-price/. 1366×768 resolution across the 13.3", 14" and 15.6" models. What? Really?