I have heard two differing opinions in regards to the optimal resolution for a screen size.
Some people think the bigger the screen size in relation to the resolution , makes it easier to read. For instance a 1600X1200 LCD that is 19 inches will make it difficult to read. So, some people would rather have a 1280X1024 19 inch monitor.
The other argument is that the higher resolution , in relation to the smaller screen size will result in a sharper(better) picture. So a 1280X1024 resolution image will look better on a 17 inch than a 19 inch flat panel.
So, what does everyone think the optimal proportions are?
I basically agree with fireflayer, it depends on needs, and it also depends on configurability. I'm a graphics professional and need the most screen 'real estate,' or 'information density' that is available. I own an SGI1600 that's 18" diag. and runs at 1600x1200, so it is even more dense than many of the flat panels coming out now.
I have poor vision (wear contacts) and to me, LCD panels are a godsend, and keep in mind that as for legibility, you can usually increase the font sizes, or icon sizes in some cases, within your OS or programs to offset the difficulties. i.e. (Desktop > Display Properties > Appearance for the Windows OS)
Also remember, more pixels per glyph (letter) actually increases legibility, as long as you increase the font size accordingly, since a 6pt font at two different resolutions is a different measurable (physical) size.
Unfortunately, HTML programmers who do not adhere to accessibility standards often 'set' font sizes on a webpage, instead of specifying a relative font size, so that they cannot be changed by the user with (View > Text Size (in IE6)) If a favorite site is doing that to you, let them know!
Hope this helps, email me if you have specific issues.
"It is alright to decorate construction, but never construct decoration." -Pugin
I sit around 1-2 feet away from monitor (depends what I'm doing) and have 20/10 vision in left eye and 20/in right- I like the 1280x1024 on a 19" variant cause it's easier on my eyes (though I don't make fonts larger in windows, keep em as they are). I'm a little concerned about getting a 20.1 incher w/ 1600x1200 res, but I'll see what I can do...
"If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough."
- Mario Andretti