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The Great Laptop Screen Size Scam

Summary

While manufacturers advertise larger and larger screen sizes for their laptops, the actual screen real estate has been dropping thanks to the switch to 'widescreen' displays.

How the Scam Works

Just a few short years ago, laptop displays were similar in dimension to standard-definition televisions. A 1024x768 display, for example, has a 4:3 aspect ratio. In today's widescreen models, the aspect ratio is much closer to 16:9, the ratio used in HDTVs. Since display size is measured diagonally, you actually get less screen area for your money with a widescreen of the same size as an old display. You can display fewer photos (at the same visible size) on a 17" widescreen than you can on a 17" old-style display. Here are some examples:

17" Display, Then And Now

Old 4:3 Today's 16:9
Width (Inches) 13.6 14.82
Height (Inches) 10.2 8.34
Display Area (Square Inches) 138.72 123.59
Percent Loss In Area - 12%

The Solution

The solution to this problem is easy. Laptop vendors should be required to quote their screen size in square inches. Then the benefit to them of shrinking screen size by making displays shorter and wider would disappear.
Last modified on 24 Jun 2009 by AO

Copyright © 2016 Andrew Oliver