Widescreen Monitors Guide
Simon Baker, Updated 19 June 2007

Introduction

Resolutions

Windows & Office

Movies

Gaming

1:1 Pixel Mapping and Aspect Retention

HDCP Support

**Widescreen Monitors Table**

Links and Further Reading

 

More and more nowadays we are seeing a massive influx of widescreen format monitors into the market. Manufacturers seem to have forgotten about the traditional 4:3 and 5:4 format screens and are instead releasing 16:10 format models in increasingly larger sizes. This has coincided with the rapid emergence of 20”, and more recently 22" models, into the market as more and more users want larger screens and now, a wider field of view. There are plenty of models now available in the market in WS format, and with the variety of panel technologies used, variety of functionality and designs of the models and variety of specs; it is certainly an interesting time for the TFT users. However, moving to WS can be a confusing situation and there are certainly a few things to consider when choosing a WS monitor to suit your needs.

 
 

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Resolutions 

As a guide to the screen sizes available: 

Screen Size (Widescreen)

Resolution

Resolution Type

Pixel Pitch

15

1280 x 768

WXGA

0.2588

17

1280 x 768

WXGA

0.289

19

1440 x 900

WSXGA or WXGA+

0.285

20

1680 x 1050

WSXGA+

0.258

21

1680 x 1050

WSXGA+

0.270

23

1920 x 1200

WUXGA

0.258

24

1920 x 1200

WUXGA

0.270

27

1920 x 1200

WUXGA

0.303

30

2650 x 1600

WQXGA

0.250

 

One thing to note is that some screens use the same native resolution, despite the screens being of different sizes. For instance the 23”, 24” and 27" screens all use 1920 x 1200 resolutions. However, the pixel pitch is smaller on the 23” and 24" models as a result and so the image is slightly smaller and more tightly packed. This could be looked at in two ways, both providing a small text size for possibly sharper image quality, or perhaps this is considered too small for comfortable use. 

 


Windows & Office 

One of the most obvious differences with the WS monitors is their wide desktop resolution. With the 20” and above sized monitors in particular the wide format and high resolution is a welcome feature, offering a large area in which to work. Some of the larger screens are easily big enough to run windows side by side, dividing the screen up to allow easy multi-tasking. A high resolution like 1920 x 1200 on the 24” or 27"WS range is perfectly fine to split down the centre, and office use certainly benefits from this. You can use software applications to split the screen into ‘grids’ with NVIDIA’s graphics drivers offering this feature already (NView Display Gridlines). This can be handy to assign sections of the screen in which windows are then ‘snapped’ to fill their grid area and make the most of the high resolutions as shown below: 

 
        NVidia NView Display Gridlines used to split the screen up into sections

 


Movies

Movies are clearly an area which makes the most of the WS format. Films, and now increasingly TV shows, are recorded in WS format and playing them on a 4:3 / 5:4 aspect screen results in black borders at the top and bottom as the video is still in the 16:10 or 16:9 format. With a WS monitor, the actual video content can fill more of the screen and black borders are significantly reduced. They are often still there, but WS obviously lends itself more to this use than 4:3 format screens. If you want to reduce the borders more, or even remove them, you can use software media players to ‘zoom’ in on the video. This has the effect of stretching the image to fill the screen, but does result in some of the image being cut off, or stretched, depending on how you zoom in. Media players like Media Player Classic have this feature and are worth testing out if you want to remove black borders even more. WS format screens really do lend themselves to movie / video application.

 


           
                Viewsonic VX922 (19") compared with Dell 3007WFP (30"WS) in movie use

 

 


Gaming

 One area which perhaps isn’t as intuitive for WS format is gaming. More and more modern games now support WS resolutions by default, and so having a WS format screen is not a problem. In fact games can really lend themselves to WS format as you have more peripheral view for first person shooters, and a wider field of view for sporting, racing and even strategy games. If you are intending to use a new monitor for gaming it is worth understanding whether the games you intend to play will support the resolution or format. You can play games outside the screens native resolution and nowadays the image interpolation for this purpose is fairly good as standard, but obviously varies somewhat from model to model. If you want to avoid the image being stretched you would need to ensure you play at a resolution of the same aspect ratio as the screen. If you try and run a game at a 5:4 resolution like 1280 x 1024, the screen will still be filled, and while the image is interpolated to the screen resolution, it will become distorted outside its proper aspect ratio. One way to overcome this is with 1:1 pixel mapping (see below).

 

Widescreen gaming. The Viewsonic VX922 (19") compared with the Dell 3007WFP (30"WS) in Civilisation

 If your favourite games don’t support WS format by default, it is often possible to “hack” them to allow support of WS monitors. An excellent resource for this is Widescreengamingforum’s master games list. They have a full list of games with hacks available to support WS. Their forums also contain a lot of discussion about WS gaming and monitors.

 

 

Widescreen gaming. The Viewsonic VX922 (19") compared with the Dell 3007WFP (30"WS) in Farcry

 


1:1 Pixel Mapping and Aspect Retention 

This is an important feature on WS monitors and invaluable if you are looking to play 4:3 or 5:4 format games on the screen. This option allows the monitor to support a series of modes, which avoid you having to force the game to fill the whole screen. This can avoid stretching of the image out of its aspect ratio, and also provide the option to play at the games true running resolution, regardless of what the screens resolution is.  

Quite a few modern screens offer the options for:

 

  • Fill / Full - Fill the screen regardless of what resolution the game is running at. This will stretch the image to the full resolution of the screen and ignores the aspect ratio as well. This can lead to stretching of the image and makes a 4:3 format image disproportionate. This is essentially what a monitor without 1:1 pixel mapping would do all the time.

  • Aspect – This retains the aspect ratio of the source, but fills as much of the screen as possible. This would ensure that any 4:3 aspect games retain that format to avoid stretching, but would make the most of the size of the screen as well. The image would be interpolated beyond its operating resolution if need be. There would be black borders down each of the sides.

  • 1:1 – This option would retain the exact resolution of the source and the rest of the screen would be blacked out with borders. This would mean you are effectively using a smaller screen within the larger screen but without any interpolation of the resolution, and the aspect ratio being maintained. This option would result in borders perhaps on all sides, depending on the resolution selected.


This feature is common on Dell screens as well as some other new models. However, it is far from being standard. See the monitors table section to identify which models support this feature. For those which do not support this feature through the monitor hardware, it may be possible to function through software. NVIDIA driver software for example has this option and some screens allow you to run 'aspect' and '1:1 centred' options even where the screen itself will not support the feature. Some models will not allow you to do this however, but see the monitor table below for details on which do support this.

 


HDCP Support 

With the arrival High Definition content, the IT industry has developed a new norm referred to as HDCP (High Bandwidth Digital Content Protection). This is a means of potentially overcoming piracy and is a protection algorithm used for future HD content including Blu-Ray and HD-DVD. For this to operate, the source (e.g. DVD), graphics card and monitor would all need to have HDCP compatibility in order for the source to be viewable. Monitors which are HDCP certified also include a digital interface as this is inferred by the technology. HDMI and / or DVI connections must be present for true HDCP certification. If this HDCP certification is not present in all elements, the image is likely to not be displayed at all, and you will see only a blank screen or perhaps some very intrusive “warning” messages.

 

 

This feature is becoming a little more common now, but there are still only a handful of monitors with this support. Since HDCP is very much related to multimedia content, monitors in WS format are a clear first target for manufacturers looking to add support for this protection. There have been a few models like the Dell 2007WFP and Dell 2407WFP which now feature HDCP support over DVI connection. See the monitors list for details of which models support HDCP. 

 

Widescreen Monitors Table 

Model Size Resolution Response Time Panel HDCP 1:1 Pixel 1:1 Pixel
          Support Mapping Mapping
            Hardware Software
Acer AL1916W 19 1440 x 900 8ms CMO TN Film N N  
Acer AL2016W 20 1680 x 1050 8ms CPT TN Film N    
Acer AL2032WA 20 1680 x 1050 8ms G2G LG.Philips S-IPS N    
Acer AL2416W 24 1920 x 1200 16ms / 6ms G2G Samsung S-PVA N    
Acer F-20 20 1680 x 1050 8ms G2G LG.Philips S-IPS N    
Apple 20" Cinema Display 20 1680 x 1050 16ms LG.Philips S-IPS N    
Apple 30" Cinema Display 30 2560 x 1600 14ms G2G LG.Philips S-IPS N    
Belinea 102035W 20 1680 x 1050 8ms G2G AU Optronics P-MVA N N  
BenQ FP202W 20 1680 x 1050 8ms CPT TN Film N    
BenQ FP222W 22 1680 x 1050 5ms TN Film N    
BenQ FP241W 24 1920 x 1200 8ms G2G AU Optronics P-MVA Y N Y
BenQ FP241WZ 24 1920 x 1200 8ms G2G AU Optronics P-MVA Y N Y
Dell 2005FPW 20 1680 x 1050 16ms LG.Philips S-IPS N Y  
Dell 2007WFP 20 1680 x 1050 16ms LG.Philips S-IPS Y Y Y
Dell 2405FPW 24 1920 x 1200 16ms / 12ms G2G Samsung PVA N Y  
Dell 2407WFP (and HC) 24 1920 x 1200 16ms / 6ms G2G Samsung S-PVA Y Y  
Dell 2707WFP 27 1920 x 1200 6ms G2G Samsung S-PVA Y Y  
Dell 3007WFP (and HC) 30 2560 x 1600 11ms / 8ms G2G LG.Philips S-IPS Y Y  
Eizo S2410W 24 1920 x 1200 8ms G2G Samsung S-PVA N Y  
Fujitsu-Siemens W19-1 19 1440 x 900 8ms CMO TN Film N N Y
Fujitsu-Siemens S20-1W 20 1680 x 1050 8ms G2G AU Optronics P-MVA N    
Gateway FPD2185W 21 1680 x 1050 8ms G2G Samsung S-PVA Y    
Hanns-G HW191D 19 1440 x 900 8ms Samsung TN Film N N N
HP F2105 21 1680 x 1050 8ms G2G Samsung S-PVA Y    
Hyundai N91W 19 1440 x 900 5ms Samsung TN Film N    
Hyundai X90W 19 1440 x 900 8ms CMO TN Film N    
LG L203WT 20 1680 x 1050 8ms LG.Philips TN Film N N Y
LG L245WP 24 1920 x 1200 8ms G2G LG.Philips S-IPS Y    
NEC LCD20WGX2 20 1680 x 1050 6ms G2G LG.Philips AS-IPS US Ver Y  
NEC LCD2690WUXi 26 1920 x 1200 7ms G2G LG.Philips A-TW-IPS Y Y  
Philips 200W6CS 20 1680 x 1050 8ms G2G LG.Philips S-IPS N Y  
Samsung SM205BW 20 1680 x 1050 5ms G2G Samsung TN Film Y N  
Samsung 215TW 21 1680 x 1050 8ms G2G Samsung S-PVA Y Y  
Samsung 242MP 24 1920 x 1200 16ms Samsung PVA Y    
Samsung 244T 24 1920 x 1200 6ms G2G Samsung S-PVA Y    
Viewsonic VA1912W 19 1440 x 900 8ms CMO TN Film N N  
Viewsonic VA2012W 20 1680 x 1050 8ms CPT TN Film N N  
Viewsonic VP231WB 23 1920 x 1200 16ms LG.Philips S-IPS Y    
Viewsonic VX2025WM 20 1680 x 1050 8ms G2G AU Optronics P-MVA N N Y


                   * this is by no means definitive


Links and Further Reading: 

Widescreengamingforum – master games list for WS hacks

Widescreengamingforum - Forums

BeHardware – HDCP Article

TFT Central – Guide to the 20” TFT Market Boom

 

 

 

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