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LCDs at Non-Native Resolutions

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  • Flat Panel Monitors
  • CRT Monitors
  • Peripherals
Last response: in Computer Peripherals
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April 10, 2011 3:04:12 PM

This is the only thing that I'm stuck on, so I thought I'd ask some knowledgeable people instead of sifting through yet more articles that haven't gotten me anywhere conclusive. Apparently LCD monitors have gotten better at displaying in non-native resolutions, but I can't find any definitive information anywhere.

I was using a 17" Dell CRT monitor (currently on a borrowed one) and since those are pretty scarce these days I looked at changing to an LCD. I've looked into this before and didn't get anywhere.

I thought now I'd try again. This is for home and business purposes, and I'm not looking for a big monitor (specifically looking for a 17"). I don't like small fonts and icons, and I've already read all the posts on various forums telling people to 'just put the Windows font size up' (that isn't ideal, it puts everything out of whack).

I know that some companies (such as Samsung and Dell) make 17" 'business' monitors, but any information on any model, new or relatively recent, on whether it's actually do-able to run it at lower resolutions would be greatly appreciated. I run my CRT at 800x600 and would likely want to use the same.

If this simply won't work, then I'll just stick with CRT monitors. One brand called MAG comes up in searches, though I'd never heard of it before. Or does anyone else actually still make CRT monitors?

Not sure if it's needed but my current video card is a GeForce 7600GT.

More about : lcds native resolutions

April 11, 2011 2:40:03 PM

let us first clear this up:

lcd monitors have a set number of pixels so always look ideal at this native resolution. anything different will sacrifice image quality. crts have a variable resolution due to the way they display images so they aren't set to one resolution.

why 17" @ 800x600?

the 800x600 resolution has long been abandoned for the most part. most webpages and software programs have shifted towards at least a minimum of 1024x768 (if not 1920x1080 nowdays). a larger monitor will maintain the same ratios but raise the icon sizes larger (though still a bit smaller than 800x600!)

crt monitors:

you can still get some crt monitors online. if not new you could always go refurbished. stores are not likely to carry anything but lcds. i've never heard of mag. you should be able to get reputable brands like lg, dell, viewsonic either new (if lucky) or refurbished but shipping will be high (they are very heavy).

lcd monitors have come down in price so much that even areas with very simple computers are often using lcd panels instead of crts. this makes them all the more hard to find (although they still are made by some companies, mostly overseas)
April 11, 2011 3:19:13 PM

If you want to run in 800x600 get a square LCD not a wide screen. Will run fine, won't be as sharp as a CRT though as most LCD can't scale resolutions as well as CRTs, and even the best LCDs are behind CRTs when run at non-native settings.
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April 11, 2011 4:14:52 PM

exactly. if the lcd is 4:3 ratio it would scale down to 800x600 on your display settings and still take up the whole screen but it might look like crap compared to a similar sized crt.
April 12, 2011 11:01:57 AM

ssddx said:
lcd monitors have a set number of pixels so always look ideal at this native resolution. anything different will sacrifice image quality. crts have a variable resolution due to the way they display images so they aren't set to one resolution.

why 17" @ 800x600?


Yep, I read through a bunch of information in my search for LCDs, reviews, and such. But regarding why that resolution, I was using an LCD just today actually (17" or 19") and I'm not sure what the resolution on it was but I ended up 'zooming in' in Internet Explorer to get it to take up the screen properly and to make it a more readable size, and the menu icons etc were still too small. I just want to set a monitor up so that everything is of a good size, rather than fiddling with bits and pieces and still having menu bars and such being too small.

hang-the-9 said:
If you want to run in 800x600 get a square LCD not a wide screen.


Thanks, that's what I've been looking for (normal, not widescreen).

ssddx said:
exactly. if the lcd is 4:3 ratio it would scale down to 800x600 on your display settings and still take up the whole screen but it might look like crap compared to a similar sized crt.


I've been looking at monitors with that aspect ratio and am going to see what I can find. If I'm not overly impressed, then I don't mind just getting another CRT, provided I can find them.

Thanks for the input, and hopefully I'll find something to go and check out this week.
April 12, 2011 11:42:50 AM

both windows xp and windows 7 have a zoom mode for your icons and text. if you want them large this is one step you will have to take. that said, webpages follow their own style. width, image sizes, text sizes and styles, etc are all blatantly different. i've seen everything from font size 8 to font size 18 or so in text.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=new+4%3A...
saw a few in this search but they might be 1600x1200. this is effectively twice the resolution but you could scale it back if you don't mind image quality suffering.
April 12, 2011 12:02:37 PM

Generally speaking, lowering the resolution will result in some image quality loss. However, dividing the maximum resolution by a whole number will result in less quality loss due to less reliance on image interpolation. Dividing 1600 x 1200 by 2 should give you good results in 800 x 600 resolution, although I am not aware of any 1600 x 1200 that is smaller than 19" or 20".

A monitor has a fixed number of pixels so if you are using less than the maximum resolution, then the LCD monitor must use interpolation display a pixel in the right place on the screen. This is sort of a "best guess" algorithm and works best with whole numbers rather than decimals.
April 12, 2011 4:42:30 PM

jaguarskx said:
Generally speaking, lowering the resolution will result in some image quality loss. However, dividing the maximum resolution by a whole number will result in less quality loss due to less reliance on image interpolation. Dividing 1600 x 1200 by 2 should give you good results in 800 x 600 resolution, although I am not aware of any 1600 x 1200 that is smaller than 19" or 20".


Scaling 800x600 to 1600x1200 will reduce the quality of subpixel font smoothing, unless there's a way to render the text on the 1600x1200 raster after scaling other graphics (though I admit it will still look better than scaling 1024x768 on a 1600x1200 screen)
April 12, 2011 6:25:01 PM

MauveCloud said:
Scaling 800x600 to 1600x1200 will reduce the quality of subpixel font smoothing, unless there's a way to render the text on the 1600x1200 raster after scaling other graphics (though I admit it will still look better than scaling 1024x768 on a 1600x1200 screen)


Which is why I stated there will be some image quality loss. I suppose I should have also stated lower text quality as well.
April 13, 2011 11:18:30 AM

jaguarskx said:
Generally speaking, lowering the resolution will result in some image quality loss. However, dividing the maximum resolution by a whole number will result in less quality loss due to less reliance on image interpolation.


Interesting... thanks for the info.

Regarding text and image quality, I think I'll just need to see this for myself, as I haven't actually changed the settings on an LCD monitor before, since the ones I've used weren't my own and I was only using them temporarily. Everyone always agrees that there is generally going to be some loss of quality but I can't help wondering whether they're comparing it to the LCD at its native resolution, or to a CRT.

Edit: I was just looking at the support page on an older Dell model, and it has a section called 'preset display modes'. I'm not sure if there's anything to that.

And it's a maze trying to find the actual details on Dell monitors from their site. I'm still looking for the actual specifications of the Dell monitors they have listed.
April 13, 2011 12:12:57 PM

the comparision of reduced quality is to the native resolution of monitors and not to crt monitors.

again, this is due to the static number of pixels trying to display a certain pixel by pixel image on screen. if the numbers mismatch theres going to be quality loss.

crt monitors do also suffer similar visual issues but just because you have everything blown up on screen at the same resolution. to my knowledge crts don't have "processing" that tries to fit an image to a static resolution so there will be a difference between how lcds and crts display an enlarged image.

if you have a 20" lcd and a 20" crt both displaying 800x600 (and if the lcd is 1600x1200) then there shouldnt a huge difference in image quality besides the whole difference between lcd and crt. if the lcd was at a different resolution then you might see a little bit more loss but it is very hard to judge without seeing it in person. borrow your friends monitor plug it into your computer and test out some resolutions, that is all i can say.
May 24, 2011 10:53:07 AM

ssddx said:
borrow your friends monitor plug it into your computer and test out some resolutions, that is all i can say.


I checked out a bigger LCD monitor than the size I would go for, and they didn't have it at the native resolution anyway, and it looked fine.

However, I wasn't prepared to buy brand new in case I decided to stick with CRTs after all. So I looked around second-hand and found one in my area, the Samsung 730B. I read reviews first, of course.

Now that I have it the only problem is tilting it. I took the base off, took the stand off, couldn't find anything. How on earth do you tilt a monitor? I haven't even set it up yet because I'm not entirely sure that it's usable at the moment.
May 24, 2011 11:54:21 AM

there is usually a type of hinge where the base attaches to the back of the flat panel. most monitors out there will tilt at least a few degrees, but i'm not sure about that particular model. you could google that model number and look for a specifications sheet; usually tilt is listed as an option.
May 24, 2011 12:05:49 PM

I set it up anyway and it was so straight that I tried just pushing it back, which worked. I don't know how anyone could use a monitor with it that straight. When I took the stand out of the base, it did look like it could rotate - meaning it could be pushed back or forth. But I couldn't get it to budge. It was only with the weight of the actual monitor that I got it to move.

I know there's some software for this monitor but I'm not sure whether to download it. The brightness is on zero, the contrast says 'unavailable' (but is set to 70). I'd like to fiddle with the contrast.

At this stage I'm not sure if the text is better or worse than a CRT. There are some scratches though that are noticeable (they didn't mention that), so I may end up buying a new one after all. But only if I can order it through a store and view it before buying it.

I gave the screen a clean with an LCD cleaning kit and it's looking better except for those scratches.

I read that it doesn't have drivers but that you can install Windows drivers for it, however, Windows couldn't find any drivers on the Windows CD. Should it make a difference?
May 25, 2011 11:46:30 AM

the monitors i use are almost perpendicular to the table. i only have them tilted back maybe 1-2 degrees. if the monitor seems to low, try placing it on a few books and see if that helps. raising the monitor to eye level seems to help a few people. just so that you are aware, there are monitors out there that will tilt more than others. i know my viewsonic vp201b does... probably about 20-25 degrees or so if i had to guess.

are you trying to change the contrast levels using the buttons on the monitors face panel?

monitors are usually plug and play. if they come with drivers/software i usually install it, if they come with nothing then i don't worry about it.

if you want to see how a monitor looks before you buy it then go to a local store such as best buy, staples, etc. and have a look at them. you might be able to convince them to hook it up to one of their display laptops so that you can run windows on it and see what that looks like firsthand. the staff at such places are usually willing to help you out with such things. best buy has pc & monitors already set up so you can play with at least half their selection without even bothering a sales rep.
October 5, 2012 1:49:47 PM

It's been a while but this thread is still here, so I thought I'd add an update.

I bought a second-hand monitor since it wasn't very expensive, and fiddled around with it for a while (setting it to 800x600). Eventually though, I ended up going back to a CRT monitor. I noticed the difference straight away though.

I know someone else using an LCD monitor at a non-native resolution and theirs looks fine, but their monitor is also a lot bigger. I'm not sure if that's a factor.

Just recently, I managed to find some more information about native resolutions, involving using a non-native resolution and having the picture taking up not the entire screen (something to do with scaling). I'm still looking into this.

I also used to use a laptop and I don't recall having any problems with that. I switched back to desktop computers for other reasons though.

Edit: I've mentioned some information twice, I had forgotten that I'd already mentioned it earlier in the thread.
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