?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Dude, where's my pixels?! - Nothing to See Here

May. 10th, 2008

07:35 pm - Dude, where's my pixels?!

Previous Entry Share Next Entry

So, Moore's law doesn't always apply.

Here's a little graph I made a while back to show the number of pixels in my current laptop's display over time. Seriously, wtf? I haven't had this few pixels since last millennium!



I miss my pixels.

The fact that my current laptop only has 990 vertical pixels (the fewest I've had since I last used 1024x768 -- progress! ahem, not) actually has implications for my productivity and ability to use my computer. One rather strange implication, for example, is that when I open Google Calendar in a Firefox tab, I don't see anything past 5:30pm. That makes it easy to not notice evening plans. It's weird the impacts technology has on one's life. Who'd have thought that having fewer pixels would make me more likely to be unprepared for stuff.

Just for clarification, I had 1280x1024 back in 2000 (Dell Inspiron 3800, Dell Inspiron 4000), 1600x1200 up to 2005 (Dell Inspiron 8200), then I dropped to 1400x1050 until this year (Dell Inspiron 600m), and now I've gained a few pixels in width (1400->1440), but lost more vital height (1050->990) in moving to a Lenovo T61.

Current Location: Ankh-Seapork
Current Mood: apatheticapathetic
Current Music: George Hrab

Comments:

[User Picture]
From:wy
Date:May 11th, 2008 04:02 am (UTC)
(Link)
you could have gotten the 15" T61p with the wuxga or wsxga+ :P

Blame OSes that don't do proper DPI scaling.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:mavjop
Date:May 11th, 2008 04:29 am (UTC)
(Link)
It's the work standard laptop. I didn't choose.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:wy
Date:May 11th, 2008 04:41 am (UTC)
(Link)
Bummer. Well, I'm still on good old XGA, so .. =)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:mavjop
Date:May 11th, 2008 05:27 am (UTC)
(Link)
C'est la vie. :) ... but I do so wish I had more pixels. That's one of the complaints my smug Mac-using friends have about Apple. Seriously, what the hell's up with the stupidly small numbers of pixels on the laptops?
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:bizzy_
Date:May 11th, 2008 06:32 am (UTC)
(Link)
you should have told work to get you a mac.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:mavjop
Date:May 11th, 2008 07:25 am (UTC)
(Link)
If I'd asked, I could probably have got one, but I really prefer running Linux as my main OS, not Mac OS, and so I figured a PC laptop would be better for that.

Plus... a Mac laptop wouldn't give me a sensible number of pixels either! =)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:wy
Date:May 12th, 2008 12:47 am (UTC)
(Link)
Geh. Thinkpads running OS/X ftw. :P
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:mavjop
Date:May 12th, 2008 01:32 am (UTC)
(Link)
If I wanted to run OS X at all, I would get a Mac. The only reason I haven't got a Mac laptop is that I don't want to run Mac OS X. At times, I've considered whether I might somehow manage to get used to OS X as my primary OS, but it falls short for me. I'd be more likely to bludgeon Linux onto a Mac laptop than to bludgeon OS X onto a PC laptop.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:wy
Date:May 12th, 2008 01:39 am (UTC)
(Link)
Sure. Not much bludgeoning involved, really. For me, it's a better linux. Same CLI tools, same apps (via macports) ... Still keep a windows partition around, but I boot it less and less.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:mavjop
Date:May 12th, 2008 02:10 am (UTC)
(Link)
I dislike the kludginess of package management on OS X [1], and it is far less well-supported in terms of buildability of Open Source software, plus the software I work on day-to-day is not supported on OS X, so I prefer to use a variant of Linux which is at least closer to supported (and tends to involve a lot less screwing around to make work). Oh, and the filesystem sucks.

[1] You can choose one of several, that sort of glom on top of the OS, but it's nothing like the elegance of, say, Fedora, where /everything/ including all parts of the OS gets managed through one package management system (rpm), and you can do 99% of what you need to do through yum, which makes life even more wonderful. Installing stuff on my Mac feels like such a step backwards.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:surpheon
Date:May 11th, 2008 03:00 pm (UTC)
(Link)
The T61P is amazingly heavy. It's my current workhorse and every time I pick up my old T40 I'm amazed at how light and slim it is.

But it does have 1680x1050 (I still think the 1400x1050 was the ideal form factor, but they're killing it).

This is, of course, not a coincidence. Manufacturing costs (over enough time) scale with number of pixels, and the 'wide screen' marketing halo gave them them cover they needed to trim a few pixels right on out.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:wy
Date:May 12th, 2008 12:48 am (UTC)
(Link)
Yeah. That's one reason my T43p with the 15" UXGA screen stays home, and my X31 with the 12" xga screen goes everywhere on the planet.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:mavjop
Date:May 12th, 2008 01:52 am (UTC)
(Link)
Heh. :) I probably ought to buy myself a small, light, easy to transport laptop, but I don't really want to spend the money buying a machine when work supplies one, and I kind of like having the same environment -- the same machine -- everywhere I go, while at home, while at work, and while traveling.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:mavjop
Date:May 12th, 2008 01:49 am (UTC)
(Link)
The silly thing, though, is that panels are getting cheaper. Much cheaper. And yet they're just deciding to cheap it out more and more rather than giving us the fruits of progress.

Of course, one could say that the market self-selects the fact that they care less about pixels than shaving a few bucks off the top of a laptop. Humbug! Humbug, I say!

I've not looked at the T61p. I suspect that our systems manager reckoned they were too big/heavy. The business types mostly have little X60s or whatever they're called, but most of us Engineers would rather have the larger (alas not large, though) number of pixels and somewhat higher spec overall. 1680x1050, I could deal with.

I could not agree more with you on the "'wide screen' marketing halo" hiding trimming off pixels.

The same effect had people paying much higher prices for "widescreen TVs" (even before HD), even if it were a widescreen TV with the same horizontal size and smaller vertical size. I always thought that was so moronic.

Oh, and a slightly similar effect (ok, only half of it -- the confusion of change, but not the marketing halo) enabled retailers in Ireland (and presumably all over Europe) to increase prices when the changeover to the Euro happened (so, you're changing the price on an item from IEP 5.99 to the equivalent EUR 7.60, they pulled stuff like changing the price to EUR 9.50. It was much less immediately obvious (you'd have to do calculations to figure out that they'd done it) than if they had later raised prices from 7.60 -> 9.50.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:athelind
Date:May 11th, 2008 03:01 pm (UTC)
(Link)
A few months ago, I traded my desktop's old 19" CRTs, which I had set at a fairly high resolution, for a pair of 19" widescreens that are locked at 1440x900.

I'm with you: this fancy new-fangled widescreen stuff doesn't feel like an upgrade.

The loss of vertical screen range makes everything feel SCRUNCHED, and I've yet to find a way to get them to a comfortable viewing height. It's particularly noticeable when I'm working in a word processor, though even horizontally-oriented spreadsheets are something of a pain. I can't full-view most graphics without resizing, either, which makes browsing art sites less pleasant.

I find myself unconsciously holding my head at odd angles as if I'm trying to peer OVER the bottom of the frame, to see what it's blocking.

I'd love to be able to simply turn one of these 90 degrees into Portrait mode, but the drivers just don't work that way. That would be the ideal combination: one portrait monitor for page-formatted materials, one landscape for media.

A bigger monitor -- at least one -- is on my Upgrade List. One might do the trick; I use the second monitor largely for chat windows and side-reference material, and 1440x900 seems entirely adequate for that.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:mavjop
Date:May 12th, 2008 02:03 am (UTC)
(Link)
I don't think there's necessarily anything inherently bad about widescreen (a widescreen laptop is easier to use on an aeroplane, for example, as it doesn't require as much room between your belly and the seat in front), but I think surpheon said it very eloquently: That the marketing halo surrounding widescreen enabled them to sell the sexiness of widescreen, enabling them to trim pixels without people paying as much attention because, well, of course the ratio will change.

Good luck with sorting out your desktop environment!

Having 2 monitors in the obvious configuration (side-by-side; the only one that really works -- I know someone who tried to do 3 across by 2 high, and he found that he couldn't really use the vertical space of monitors above other monitors) worked better back when they weren't widescreen, I think. Even putting two regular aspect ratio monitors side by side was pushing the golden rule envelope far enough, so putting 2 widescreens beside each other seems like it's seriously pushing it.

Though ... I guess some people find that 3 regular aspect monitors side-by-side works well for them, so perhaps 2 widescreen monitors side by side would work ok, if they had sufficient vertical resolution. Well, and physical height. Hmm.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:athelind
Date:May 14th, 2008 05:45 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Actually, the 19" widescreen works Just Fine as my secondary monitor, which is off to my left and at an angle. I use it for stuff that I largely just glance at, and I can arrange my IM window, my MUCK client, and at least one File Manager window there with no issues. It's the main one that's not really shaped right for anything but web browsing or Second Life.

And even that, I might fix if I could just get it elevated to a decent height...

I've actually kicked around the idea of an over-and-under arrangement, but I'd have to buy or build custom mounting brackets instead of just putting the things on my desk.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)