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back to article Shiny, shiny! The window's behind me...

For reasons too mundane to express, the location at which I have been currently working comprises two adjacent but separate open-plan areas conjoined by a small office occupied by the departmental boss. The easiest and quickest way to get from one open-plan area to the other is to pass through the little office. In fact, it’s a …

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I also want the choice of a 4:3 or 5:4 screen, too, not this widescreen b****cks that's only of any use to people wanting to watch films!

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Actually, I *like* widescreen. I can get far more data on it, and especially with design or flowcharting it's good to have all the toolboxes in sight without having to park them on a second screen or having to hide them or dig them from underneath other windows.

And with system work I can get many more command line prompts in view before they start overlapping.

I can, however, see that being an issue with the weird crowd that use all their applications maximised. I find that to be seriously inefficient, but maybe it works for them.

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Seconded, doing development work on a decent quality widescreen display is a joy - I couldn't imagine going back to using a 4:3 display unless (as in the case of my home PC) it's got a second display alongside it... Provided the vertical resolution of the widescreen display is comparable to the 4:3 alternatives, those extra horizontal pixels rarely go to waste.

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My widescreen monitors at work have been turned 90 degrees. That's what I call vertical resolution :)

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Yes - I think the main dislike really comes from the vertical resolution, rather than the aspect ratio itself. With resolutions like 1366x768 being common (or even 1024x600 which "netbooks" got stuck with), it's a struggle when many UIs were designed with taller resolutions in mind. But with full HD, this isn't a problem, and all the extra "wide" space is great. It also seems a more natural aspect ratio for laptops (where you can't resort to using two monitors on your lap), it takes up the full width of your lap, without being too tall.

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Good luck with your neck muscles.

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@ Mark

I was recently 'upgraded' at work from a Lenovo T400 to a T420 laptop.

Whilst the laptop itself is better (faster, more mem, more storage etc.) The new screen res is 1366x768 (16:9), the old one was 1280X800 (16:10).

So I've got more pixels width in the same physical space, so a higher DPI, but less vertical pixels and is actually physically smaller as well in the vertical, as there is now a wide border at the bottom, so the screen no longer fills the lid. so completely wasted space!

I've no issue with the 1366 width, but the aspect ratio should have retained 16:10 to at least use the available space in the lid. A reduction like this is a step backwards.

Luckily I have a monitor as well (1600x1200), so use the built in only as a secondary monitor except when in meetings etc.

Back on topic.

Matte all the way, both at work (above mentioned 1600x1200, a HP) and at home, a 24" Samsung 1920x1200 (So 16:10, not 16:9 which is pants) :-)

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Lack of vertical resolution annoying.

especially when your vertical pixels are swallowed up by ribbon interfaces, title bars, status bar and websites with large banner adverts.

16:9 also causes the centre of your screen on a laptop to be lower down than it would be on a 16:10 or 4:3 display. Not ideal.

For sure, it depends on what applications you use it for. Choice is nice, though.

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Warning: please check that your irony detector is switched on

These days, part of the cost of a new lap top is buying a proper matte screen to replace the mirror that is fitted as standard to almost everything. Now that front facing cameras are ubiquitous, it is time to switch over to fitting matte screens as standard and overlay the image from the camera for people who love glossy.

Wide screen gets me two 80 column consoles side by side with no overlap in a clear font size. I also get an exciting grey bar on each side of The Register's web site. How many people visit The Register just to stare for hours at those stunning pale grey bars?

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Re: Warning: please check that your irony detector is switched on

@ 'pale grey bars'

I assuming your using a browser with Adblock or similar? (Like me)

Try turning if of for a mo and reloading a page, they are not empty grep bars be design ;-)

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Re: Warning: please check that your irony detector is switched on

oops, 'by design' even!

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those extra horizontal pixels rarely go to waste.

I like widescreen too, for the reasons already pointed out. I still find myself wishing for more vertical resolution too, though. Tabbed browsing in the webotron and gnome-terminal (and virtual desktops if you want to count that) already make great use out of screen real estate, but it would be nice to be able to see more lines of code in emacs or Eclipse or the like. Come to think of it, I guess there's always Ctl-x 3 in emacs if I want to look at a buffer in 2-up mode, providing I don't mind scrolling manually in each window. I must remember to try that next time.

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At least give me 16:10 instead of 16:9, which is something that's becoming increasingly difficult. Display technology in general kind of sucks actually and in many ways seems to have regressed since CRTs...you're constantly being stuck with choices like "do you want decent color, *or* do you want to play games acceptably?"

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Actually, !6:10 is very nice. But no one wants to offer that anymore, either.

I bought my (slightly used) T-model Thinkpad (for more than I had budgeted) because:

I knew it was entirely Linux compatible

it had excellent battery life

It had a great keyboard

AND a wonderful, 16:10 (1440x900), matte/anti-reflective screen !

I had been looking for 13" laptop quite a while, but everything (affordable) I found was deficient in battery life, and/or had 16:9 glossy screen, (I was looking for 5:4 or 16:10 -- but would have, grudgingly, settled for 16:9 if it had passable anti-glare and good battery life). It didn't hurt that it had a much better CPU than I had expected, and plenty of RAM -- but it was the screen (with anti-glare that was actually effective) that actually clinched the sale. The fact this was a somewhat larger, heavier 14" model seemed an acceptable trade-off, even at $100 more than my carefully considered "limit".

I was concerned that I would feel "buyer's remorse" once the lure of the "new" technology wore off, but every time I open the lid in a "difficult" lighting environment, I feel a distinct satisfaction, and know that the temporary sacrifice of my Starbucks budget was well worth it.

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I need matte

Not for any other reason that I don't very exciting to see myself reflected all the time. One shock in the morning is enough when I'm about to shave (hence the short delay - never put the blade to the skin before you look :) ).

Having said that, I have both..

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Re: I need matte

The thing is, I've been using my shiny MacBook all day and not once noticed reflections on the screen. There's a 27in shiny display on the desk as well and this is like a dark mirror, it's so reflective... but then again, that's because it's switched off.

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Anonymous Coward

Matte Screen Sir? I'm afraid not...

There's just no demand for 'em.

You're the fifteen-thousandth person I've told this week: just no demand for 'em.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Matte Screen Sir? I'm afraid not...

Why have fifteen-thousand people asked for matte screens? Now that's quite a demand...

I have a little theory which is a little bit nagging my mind: is the decline of the PC market is directly related to the hardware one is able to get? Currently only stupid 16:9 aspect ratios are available, only glossy displays, not even 1000 lines vertical resolution who wants to use such hardware 40 hours a week to make real work?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: only stupid 16:9 aspect ratios

And the only thing this wide-screen monitor is actually good for is ---wide-screen films. And getting less screen area for the same "size." Which suits the manufacturers.

Oh, and very wide spreadsheets, I suppose. Or editing music.

OK, OK, so there are some some other things its good for, but it would not be my ideal choice for work.

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Matte will rise again

"... I wouldn’t have this [matte finish] done to the windows in my house, the windscreen in my car nor the spectacles sitting on my nose. Doing so would make everything on the other side harder to see."

But you probably have curtains, tinted glass, coated lenses, curved surfaces etc!. I know you have curtains and not blinds, because...

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Re: Matte will rise again

I think the OP is misguided here; there's a big difference between looking AT something underneath a matte screen (where the focal point is very close to the screen) and trying to see THROUGH a screen to the end of the road...

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Huh, all my screens are matte

My Dell IPS monitors (2007wfp, 1680x1050, U2410, 1920x1200), my Dell laptops (latitude - d610 (1400x1050), d800 (1920x1200), precision m4400 (1920x1200) . Infact, I'm sure even my fantastic Sony Z12 laptop has a matte screen (and my first 16:9 screen - 1600x900).

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Re: Huh, all my screens are matte

why have i just wasted 3 seconds of my life reading the makes and models of all your swag :(

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FAIL

Re: Huh, all my screens are matte

and even more writing about it!

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Zenbooks

The very new and modern Asus Zenbook Primes all come with (full HD) matte screens.

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Widescreen

Can we have a similar article on the lack of choice with regards to monitor aspect ratios? I find it increasingly annoying having to use laptops which force me to view webpages or documents through a letterbox.

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Re: Widescreen

>> Can we have a similar article on the lack of choice with regards to monitor aspect ratios?

I did one of those about 10 years ago, complaining that shorter, wider displays are no use to anyone except people watching full-screen videos. All of the reader responses said I was stupid.

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Good article. Yes, for an indoor choice, glossy is fine and you're better off not placing a computer by the window anyway.

But outdoors, definitely matte. I'm glad I'm not the only one to have noticed the oddity that whilst I can get a choice of matte vs glossy when buying a (non-Apple) PC, when it comes to mobile devices like tablets and smartphones, that are often used outdoors, they all use impossible-to-read-in-sunlight glossy!

(My Samsung ultra-portable has a matte display; my PC Specialist Clevo offered a choice, and I got glossy.)

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Anonymous Coward

WTF is it with Brits and Open Plan?

The company I work for has US and UK divisions. The US divisions are bad enough with cubical farms, but the UK is open plan - which means all the engineers have little ability to concentrate due to all the disturbances around them. It seems to me that if your boss is being bothered by all the people traipsing through his office, GOOD! SERVES HIM RIGHT for making you work in open plan; if you are going to suffer from no privacy then he should as well!

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Re: WTF is it with Brits and Open Plan?

Dilbert has a lot to answer for.

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Re: WTF is it with Brits and Open Plan?

You should try working in an open plan office with several L1 support desks right behind you.

I can hear every sniff, snuffle, fart and cringworthy piece of bad advice.

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Anonymous Coward

Be curious to know what high-end gaming models are using-- either matte or gloss?

I'm using a high end Asus G75VW 3D for videogames development. It is very deliberately MATTE, a deliberate design choice made by Asus. I'd be curious to know what other high-end gaming models are using i.e. either matte or gloss? For instance the top end models from Samsung (Series 7), MSI, Alienware, Lenovo etc...

Mmmh, The author neglected to speak about outdoors or use in a car on a bright sunny day? This author said one thing I did note though... 'As an outsider'

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Be curious to know what high-end gaming models are using-- either matte or gloss?

That's grand, as long as you have a display that represents what your customers use, for usability testing. Not every XBOX owner has a Hi-Def TV, yet text in Halo Reach, for example, was unreadable on an SD TV.

I must credit where it is due, though- I now have an XBOX connected by a VGA cable to a matte 4:3 monitor, and the XBOX recognises its native resolution and Halo 4 fills the screen without stretching, croppping or distortion.

Oh, does anybody want a 32" 4:3 CRT Panasonic TV before I take it to the dumpRecycling Centre?

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Re: Be curious to know what high-end gaming models are using-- either matte or gloss?

You will get MY 32" CRT Panasonic TV when you prise it from my cold, dead hands!!! Although I WILL admit it is a wide screen, not a 4:3.

HDTV is a bit of a con, only the yanks can see a real difference because THEIR SD broadcast definition was out of the Ark.

1080p is slightly better, but as someone pointed out at the time, you either need 40+ inches, or sit 6" from the screen to tell the difference; which is why I laugh at all the "Full HD" 24" TV screens I see advertised.

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How can you tell?

I've got 3 (different model) screens on my desk at work. But i don't know whether they are matte or glossy.

How do you tell?

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Re: How can you tell?

>How do you tell?

You take a piece of spaghetti that has been boiled for ten minutes, then sling it at your screen. If it slides off, it means you have a shiny screen... or your pasta in not done yet... I forget which.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How can you tell?

Which one can you see your reflection more in?

...especially when there's a strong light source in the room or from outside or from your back?

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Pint

Re: Pasta

You'll be wanting a beer with that pasta. It's on me :)

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screen choice

Recently a friend broke the gloss screen on his laptop, he bought it to me and asked me to replace it. I asked if he wanted a matte screen, he practically bit my hand off.

Now a matte screen replacement for his laptop was readily available for the same price as the glossy version. If that is the case why don't we see this as a choice?

Once you get passed the matte vs. glossy there are more problems. Resolution is one, laptops don't have enough resolution. At the same time screens made for desktop business use are being produced with daft resolutions my users don't want 1080p 21.5" screens. They liked the 1680x1050 22" screens. I'm not saying don't make glossy screens or 16:9 business screens just give the market a choice instead of deciding what they want for them. Personally I think 3:2 would be quite a nice ratio for a screen but nobody's going to start making one now.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: screen choice

>>> Personally I think 3:2 would be quite a nice ratio for a screen but nobody's going to start making one now

Nobody's going to make them because 16:10 is already close enough... 3:2 = 1.5:1, 16:10 = 1.6:1

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Anonymous Coward

Shiny does generally help the colour have a bit more poke. But they could have a bit of shine without the high gloss we have now.

CRT TV sets and monitors used to be very shiny, then someone added a coating which reduced the reflectiveness somewhat.

Personally I'm happy with nice dull matte, it is something I was glad of when getting my first LCD screen, that and reclaiming masses of desk space. Those 17 and 19" monitors were huge.

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Headmaster

"...that’s the kind of nobend you are turning into."

I think you'll find that it's 'knobend'.

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WTF?

I thought a 'matte' was something to do with backgrounds in films. 'matt' is the opposite of 'gloss' surely.

It's matt paint I buy - not matte, which I guess would be used for painting cinematic backgrounds.

Or is this a UK/US thing?

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No, it's the name of the guy with no arms and no legs laying on your doorstep

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Anonymous Coward

Matt/matte

The only thing we use "matt" for in the US is as a nickname for Matthew. For paint and screens, it's "matte." The thing you might put down before you paint is a "mat." Though m-w lists both "mat" and "matt" as variants of "matte."

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Re: Matt/matte

A bit like 'program' and 'programme', then. I've read that 'program' was the original English spelling, and the other was a French affectation, used on English fly posters to make theatre productions look fancier.

Just to amuse myself, I always use 'program' for things to do with computers, and 'programme' for television shows an the like.

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Shiny screen woes

I have been given a shiny screen at work, which means when I am peering at the screen trying to solve a particularly difficult problem I get distracted by the confused- looking man inside my monitor glaring at me.

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Glossy photos have more contrast than matte--screens may not follow suit

Many years of reading glossy and matte photographs with a reflection densitometer showed me that the most contrasty black-and-white photos were printed on gloss paper. The maximum density difference I've seen is about 2.2 density units. (This is logarithmic; 2.2 units = a difference in relectivity of 300 times between darkest and lightest areas.) Unsurpisingly, the reflectivity in the white areas of matte prints approached .05 density units greater than the same area in gloss prints. The darkest areas of matte prints had no less reflectivity than gloss--and usually a bit less. If the matte print's density range is .06 units less, contrast is reduced by a factor of 4--a range of 75 for the hypothetical maximal matte print as opposed to 300 for gloss.

Monitors are different, because they transmit light instead of reflecting it. Density ranges as measured by transmission densitometers could exceed 5 density units in high-contrast film, for a difference of 100,000 between the lightest and darkest areas. Monitors don't achieve this contrast, but matte vs. gloss is not an issue unless matte absorbs more light than shiny. What the author is likely noticing is the fact that inferior matte coatings blur crisp boundaries between image elements, thus reducing resolution.

Right now I am using a 15.4-inch, 1920x1080 pixel, matte screen. Both the apparent resolution and the contrast range of this screen vastly exceeds the 72 dpi, 21-inch, multi-thousand dollar monitors I used to use for high-end color correction. Would shiny be better? Maybe a little, but I'm happy with what I've got.

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Re: Glossy photos have more contrast than matte--screens may not follow suit

Every surface reflects at least 5 % of the incident light.

It was long ago accepted by photographic science that glossy prints give better contrast than matte. The reason is that since the surface reflection is always there illuminate to let it shoot off at 45 deg. A matte print sends some of the surface reflection to the observer, or densitometer sensor. A computer screen is no different, During daylight I shut a door behind me to lose the reflection of a window.

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Re: Glossy photos have more contrast than matte--screens may not follow suit

It would seem from the above that the growth of glossy screens has something to do with manufacturers desire to extract the best contrast and brightness readings; under test laboratory conditions, which can then be put in their specifications etc. etc.

Having used a glossy VDU, I welcomed laptops with their matte screens and yes most of my systems have matte screens (and my main phone even has a keypad that can be used one handed in broad daylight) - just been in the industry too long ...

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