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Laptop screen quality, 15" vs 17" vs external monitor

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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February 18, 2011 5:15:32 PM

Am used to using desktop...just switched to a 15.5" laptop as a desktop replacement but am having difficulty viewing the screen and fonts clearly. Have tried all sorts of adjustments and zooming but it hasn't been too helpful. I do lots of document work and internet research and email work. Am considering returning the laptop and getting a 17" replacement but am wondering if that will make a big difference? Does anyone know? I understand the screen resolution is better in the 17" screens too.
My 15.5's resolution is 1366 x 768.
Another option would be to buy an external monitor to attach but I understand that would just make what I see on my screen now larger...not necessarily clearer.

Should I have ordered a better graphics card with my laptop...Would that have helped with viewing type?

Probablly a this point my best options are to exchange the 15" for a 17" but unfortunately the silver-white color is not available in the 17" (Sony Vaio EB.)....Or to buy an external monitor to attach (would this not be as clear visually as the 17" laptop?) Or start from scratch and get another desktop but I don't think I really want to do that.

If anyone has any experience or knowledge in this area, I would be grateful to hear your view. Thanks so much.

(Another factor is that I've had a few problems with the laptop out of the box, which a Sony tech is scheduled to come repair.)
February 22, 2011 6:16:37 AM

Your best bet is going for a bigger size,

getting an external monitor to portray such a low resolution from the 15.5 would make it worse i would assume.

a better gpu(graphics) wouldnt do much because the limits of your display are your issue.

it is all about screen resolution which adds clarity as well as desktop landscape the higher the resolution the better, since your issue is specific to your needs i would walk into a store to see what setup fits your sight best, then going after something along the lines of the specs you find acceptable.

p.s. could you add more details as to how unclear the images are? if the notebook is already experiencing issues it could be safe to just wait and get it fixed then return if still unacceptable.
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February 22, 2011 5:44:32 PM

Hi, Joerge,
Thank you for responding. That is helpful.
The images seem clear, it is the fonts and type I am having problems with...and eye strain. Also perhaps the brightness of the screen, which doesn't help much to adjust. If I dim the brightness, the type seems harder to read.
I have gone into several stores and sampled the laptop screens but most don't have Office installed and so it is a little difficult to tell for sure. I do think the 17" laptop screens are better though for my needs.
I have noticed that some of the 17" screens seem clearer than others though...and sometimes they are AMD...which is a little confusing because I had understood an intel processor would be better for me.

Any thoughts on intel vs AMD in regards to clarity? Most techs I have talked with at the stores think it wouldn't make much difference on document work.

Someone suggested a 1920 x 1200 resolution...but that might be overkill? I thought that was primarily for gaming...which I don't do.

Thank you again for your help with this...

(Also, the Sony tech came out and replaced the speakers and soundcard BUT it didn't seem to solve the problem. Laptop still has slight buzz and squeal sometimes. I tried muting the microphone, which didn't seem to help either, maybe slightly.)
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February 22, 2011 10:38:53 PM

Intel vs AMD won't matter at all in regards to text quality.
A high resolution isn't just for gaming - it lets you view several pages of information simultaneously on one screen. It is very nice to be able to have two full pages side-by-side as opposed to having to constantly switch between them.
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March 5, 2011 7:11:24 PM

I am having to return the laptop because of other unresolved technical issues...and am wondering if rather than ordering an exact replacement I should order an upgrade with full HD premium display and ATI mobility radeon? The resolution would be 1920 x 1080. The Sony techs didn't think this would help me in working with documents--that it wouldn't make a difference for that, which is why I didn't order that upgrade on my first order. I wouldn't want to waste the money...but it would be worth it if it would make my document work easier! Any thoughts?
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a c 433 D Laptop
March 5, 2011 7:22:31 PM

What exactly do you mean by having difficulty viewing the screen and fonts clearly?

Does the text seem to small? Is it a bit fuzzy?
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March 5, 2011 7:47:26 PM

jaguarskx said:
What exactly do you mean by having difficulty viewing the screen and fonts clearly?

Does the text seem to small? Is it a bit fuzzy?




Text is difficult to read....too small. Increased the dpi to 125 which helps some. Some adjustments to try to make the text larger seem to make it a bit fuzzy.
The 16:9 aspect ratio is difficult for me....The widescreens don't work so well for document work. Would prefer the old 4:3 aspect ratio...and more vertical space.
The conundrum seems to be that when you increase the vertical pixels, things get even smaller?
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a c 358 U Graphics card
a c 433 D Laptop
March 5, 2011 8:32:20 PM

Going from a 15.5" to 17" screen will make things a little easier to read as long as the 17" screen is also 1366 x 768 resolution. If it is a higher resolution, then that can make the problem worse because text will appear even smaller.

Nearly all laptop sold are widescreen.

If you want to stick with a laptop, then the best thing to do is to get an external monitor. Most monitors are also widescreen, but that is good because a 1920 x 1080 or 1920 x 1200 monitor will allow you to have two pages on the screen at once in word processors if the text doesn't appear too small for you. These monitors range in size from 22" to 27". The larger the monitor, the larger the text.


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March 6, 2011 11:46:09 PM

jaguarskx said:
Going from a 15.5" to 17" screen will make things a little easier to read as long as the 17" screen is also 1366 x 768 resolution. If it is a higher resolution, then that can make the problem worse because text will appear even smaller.

Nearly all laptop sold are widescreen.

If you want to stick with a laptop, then the best thing to do is to get an external monitor. Most monitors are also widescreen, but that is good because a 1920 x 1080 or 1920 x 1200 monitor will allow you to have two pages on the screen at once in word processors if the text doesn't appear too small for you. These monitors range in size from 22" to 27". The larger the monitor, the larger the text.



Thanks, Jaguars. This is helpful info. In most my document work, though, I don't need to view side-by-side pages. Usually just need to see one page on the screen at a time. So if the 1920 resolution is recommended primarily for being able to view side-by-side documents, perhaps it wouldn't be so helpful in my case. I thought it might make text clearer...but I realize it also makes it smaller, which for me may not work so well. Would probably have to adjust fonts and text to appear bigger on the screen.
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March 16, 2011 2:40:32 AM

pinstripes said:
Am used to using desktop...just switched to a 15.5" laptop as a desktop replacement but am having difficulty viewing the screen and fonts clearly. Have tried all sorts of adjustments and zooming but it hasn't been too helpful. I do lots of document work and internet research and email work. Am considering returning the laptop and getting a 17" replacement but am wondering if that will make a big difference? Does anyone know? I understand the screen resolution is better in the 17" screens too.
My 15.5's resolution is 1366 x 768.
Another option would be to buy an external monitor to attach but I understand that would just make what I see on my screen now larger...not necessarily clearer.

Should I have ordered a better graphics card with my laptop...Would that have helped with viewing type?

Probablly a this point my best options are to exchange the 15" for a 17" but unfortunately the silver-white color is not available in the 17" (Sony Vaio EB.)....Or to buy an external monitor to attach (would this not be as clear visually as the 17" laptop?) Or start from scratch and get another desktop but I don't think I really want to do that.

If anyone has any experience or knowledge in this area, I would be grateful to hear your view. Thanks so much.

(Another factor is that I've had a few problems with the laptop out of the box, which a Sony tech is scheduled to come repair.)


You need to look for higher DPI (dots per inch, basically resolution per inch). It means higher resolution, smaller screen, or both. I would recommend Sony Vaio Z series with full HD display. The screen is very high quality and well worth the money if you can afford it.

Once you get the Z, change the settings and adjust the DPI if the text seems too small. Usually, 120% DPI setting will look good.
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March 17, 2011 4:03:21 AM

yilmazma said:
You need to look for higher DPI (dots per inch, basically resolution per inch). It means higher resolution, smaller screen, or both. I would recommend Sony Vaio Z series with full HD display. The screen is very high quality and well worth the money if you can afford it.

Once you get the Z, change the settings and adjust the DPI if the text seems too small. Usually, 120% DPI setting will look good.




Thanks so much....I think I will try something along this line, although the Z looks a little pricey!...and I think I need at least a 15" screen.
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March 24, 2011 3:06:47 AM

Best answer selected by pinstripes.
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