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LCD computer monitor question

JeffW

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My sister and BIL currently have a (decent) 17" tube monitor, running @ 800x600 resolution, on a Windows XP system. They are both complaining (due to aging) about text being too small. I've tried to bump up the font size in Internet Explorer, but that seems to cause issues with some sites that don't seem to handle the font size being anything other than 'normal'. For a similar reason, I don't see dropping the resolution to a lower value (640 x 480) as being an issue-free option. I don't think block magnification (provided by I think the Magnifier (?) accessibility tool) is a viable option either. I've told her that a larger monitor, most likely an LCD one, is the answer (they are moving soon, and a 19"+ tube monitor would be awkward for them to handle).

In doing some brief looking online, most new monitors seem to be widescreen (16x9), vs. the 4x3 ratio they have now. Their computer (4yr old eMachine) does have at least one 16x9 resolution, but I think it might have been something like 1280 x 720 - basically, in order to get matching screen proportions, they're have to increase the resolution. Not good.

I'm guessing a 16x9 monitor will work with 4x3 output, but probably like tv SD vs HD, either: a) stretches the screen, or b) has black bars along the sides. Am I missing anything?

Assuming I'm not, what are my options? Some ideas:

1. Find a new monitor. Doable (newegg.com sells some), but apparently not very common, and selection likely to diminish over time.

2. find maybe a refurbished 4x3 monitor online (Tiger Direct, etc), or possibly used from an individual.

3. add a video card that can does supports a low 16x9 resolution (maybe 900 x 500). This adds extra cost to the monitor acquisition cost. In additional, I added an ATI PCI-E dual port card (to drive my tube monitor and LCD HD tv). Although 3d graphics, and probably media player output performance is better, 2D (everyday!) performance was worse than my eMachine system w/ onboard video. An even less expensive board for her system could have even worse performance, not to mention extra support issues.

I absolutely do not see them getting into anything (movie / tv show downloads, web viewing) where they'd really want 16x9 display capability. I really think the only reason they'd need a new, larger monitor is for larger text.

Any suggestions or recommendations? Other than sacrificing image quality for size, any reason not to go as big as their budget permits? Thanks.

Jeff
 

Icarus

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In IE, just hit Control+ or something like that to increase the font size.

In XP, you can change the font size of windows to Large Fonts, in display properties on the Appearance pane.

They need a new computer. Don't bother with the monitor. Get a new LCD monitor with the new computer. 19" LCD monitors are dirt cheap as are new computers bundled with a new monitor. You can still buy 4x3 external LCD displays. They aren't all wide screen.

My secondary monitor is a 22" wide screen monitor running at its native 1920 x 1200 rez. The text looks fine on it. I have Windows XP set to Large Fonts and Clear Text enabled.

-David
 
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JeffW

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I'm avoiding a new computer for them because I really don't want to move them to Vista. My sister needs a ton of support, it's amazing the issues she has with XP, and it happens to be one of my old systems. I don't have any Vista systems, and don't plan on it, so supporting Vista when I don't have it would be a royal pain.

Jeff
 

Icarus

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I'm avoiding a new computer for them because I really don't want to move them to Vista. My sister needs a ton of support, it's amazing the issues she has with XP, and it happens to be one of my old systems. I don't have any Vista systems, and don't plan on it, so supporting Vista when I don't have it would be a royal pain.

Jeff
you can still buy new computers with windows XP installed.

Vista with SP1 is supposed to be better than the original Vista.

If you don't want a new computer, just go get a cheap 17" or 19" 4x3 LCD flat panel monitor with a native rez that's supported by the graphics chip on the old computer. Even 4 year old computers should support reasonable resolutions.

newegg has an Asus and and an Acer analog 17" LCD that does 1280 x 1024 native for $135 and there's a rebate on it. For the future, you might want one that has both an analog and a digital input, but that will cost more. If that computer can't do 1280 x 1024, I wouldn't bother spending any more money on it. (does it have the latest graphics drivers, BTW?). There's also some that are 1024 x 768, but they cost more and probably aren't worth the money. (uncheck widescreen on the LCD monitors page, then sort by lowest price.)

-David
 
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Big Matt

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David,
"they" don't all do it. HP/Compaq does not. I just tried to find XP and they don't offer it on their site.

Thanks for the heads up on Dell.
 

Icarus

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David,
"they" don't all do it. HP/Compaq does not. I just tried to find XP and they don't offer it on their site.
Yes, they do.

I found some and it took about a minute:

http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/us/en/sm/WF04a/12454-12454-64287-321860-3328893.html

Look under small business desktop PCs at hp.com. I don't know if they offer them on their "home" PCs or not. But they all do it, Matt.

Vista Business and Vista Ultimate include downgrade rights to XP. That's how they do it. It's not enough just to buy Vista Business or Ultimate, as you also need the drivers for XP. Since customers still want XP, they all still offer it and support it on some of their models. Microsoft wins either way.

-David
 
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Big Matt

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Thanks. I wasn't going into the business section. I have two computers with Vista and two with XP. I haven't seen much go wrong with Vista, but mine isn't one of the two.
 

isisdave

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I have a 4x3 19-inch LCD monitor I've had for a few years. I run it at 1024x768 and it's generally very readable, with or without glasses, at a distance of about 4 feet.

You are right that most new monitors are 9x16, which I don't really get, as most web pages are arranged for 4x3 and most document-oriented things are portrait ... even taller and skinnier. I can only conclude that the younger generation is just watching movies on their computers, which is how, once again, age and treachery will enable us presbyopians to overcome .... oh sorry, off topic I guess.

But anyway ... you can probably get a good deal on a similar monitor on eBay or Craig's list or even at a garage sale. I think it'll probably work for your relatives at 1024x768, but if not you can move it back down to 800x640. Smaller than that and many websites will require scrolling, which is annoying. The Ctrl-+ feature in Firefox is handy, and all I usually need for the few websites that use tiny type.
 

JeffW

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Thanks for the post isisdave, I think you understand the issues I'm facing. I'd like to take my sister to a store, setup some monitors at the same resolution and distance, so she can decide if 19" is sufficient, or does she think she needs larger.

However this is complicated, because say a 19" (diagonal) 16x9 display I'd find in a store will be smaller than a 19" 4x3 display. Sure I can do the math, to find an equivelent 16x9 size, but as I said, it complicates it. [I stumbled across this excellent site - http://www.displaywars.com/19-inch-4x3-vs-23-inch-16x9 . You can put in diagonal measurements for each, and besides listing actual dimensions, it also shows graphical the relative size of each. In my case, to get the same height (about 11.4") of a 4x3 monitor, I'd need to go to a 23" 16x9 display. Of course 23" does not appear to be a standard size! 22" is about 5% smaller, whereas 24" is 5% larger (and probably a lot more $$).]

I want to be as accurate as possible: I'd rather not have them spend more money on a larger monitor than they really need; on the other hand, if they get too small a monitor, then the problem isn't solved.

I did a search yesterday, and newegg.com had a number of 4x3 monitors, so they are still available. I leave it up to my sister if you'd want to try to buy new, or go for a lower price on ebay/craigslists, with potentially some risk on the condition.

Jeff
 
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