LCD monitors with a screen aspect ratio of 5:4 used to be viewed as mainstream just a little while ago. They were ordinary in contrast to widescreen models with an aspect ratio of 16:10. But now that the manufacturers have got to producing widescreen monitors in earnest, it is possible that we will soon be calling them ordinary instead.
Why are widescreen monitors so popular? There are several reasons for that. First of all, widescreen matrixes are more profitable for the manufacturer because they are somewhat cheaper to make. In the highly competitive market this is a very important factor to consider when you are launching a new model. The lower price of a matrix is explained by its lower size: a 19-inch matrix with an aspect ratio of 5:4 has a total area of 1136 sq. mm as opposed to 1047 sq. mm of a 19-inch matrix with an aspect ratio of 16:10. The amount of displayed information is about the same, though: a classic 19-inch monitor has a native resolution of 1280x1024 or 1.31 million pixels whereas a widescreen 19-incher has a resolution of 1400x900 pixels or 1.296 million pixels. From many users’ point of view, the latter is even preferable, producing a smoother picture due to the smaller pixel pitch.
Widescreen models are also better for watching movies most of which have 16:9 format of the frame. It is easier to work with two open documents simultaneously on them and organize a workspace with lots of subsidiary windows as in Adobe Photoshop. They only do not suit well for CAD/CAM applications – it is handier to work with design drawings on a classic, “square” monitor.
And finally, widescreen monitors are better in terms of ergonomics. It is easier to install them on the desk in such a way that the top edge of the matrix were at the same level with your eyes. Such positioning helps reduce your eye strain: if you are looking somewhat downwards, the eyes are half-covered by the lids and do not dry out (we are blinking less frequently when at work, which is the reason for sore eyes). Monitors with an aspect ratio of 5:4 are taller and you need a lower desk or a higher chair to install them properly. This is a problem considering that many inexpensive monitors do not permit you to adjust the height of the screen above the desk.
Unfortunately, there has never been a single widescreen 19-inch monitor with a matrix type other than TN. It means you have to look among other screen formats if you want to have a monitor with really good vertical viewing angles.
Use the following link for a description of our testing methodology, the equipment we use, and a brief explanation of what the specified and tested parameters of LCD monitors mean: the article is called X-bit Labs Presents: LCD Monitors Testing Methodology In Depth. If you feel overwhelmed with the numbers and terms this article abounds in, check out an appropriate section of the mentioned article for an explanation.