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Summary:

It’s interesting to watch the trend of screen size and resolution in the UMPC and sub-notebook market. Every initial UMPC in 2006 that I can think of had a 7-inch display, which was the standard size defined the Origami Project. Over the next one to two […]

ScreenresIt’s interesting to watch the trend of screen size and resolution in the UMPC and sub-notebook market. Every initial UMPC in 2006 that I can think of had a 7-inch display, which was the standard size defined the Origami Project. Over the next one to two years, designers learned that 800 x 480 wasn’t optimal so we’ve witnessed resolution bumps to a more useful 1024 x 600. The trend-setting Asus Eee PC started at the less than optimal screen size and res, but the next-gen model is already at 8.9-inches and the higher res. The HP Mini is an outlier with an even higher resolution on the 8.9-inch display.I don’t know what’s the “optimal” size and res for an ultra-portable device, and quite frankly, that varies for each individual. Still, I’m excited to see that some manufacturers are going just a wee bigger on the display: 10-inches. We’ve heard of Asus bringing a 10-inch Eee PC to market this year and it wouldn’t surprise me to see others follow; Dell and HP come to mind. 10-inches is a nice compromise between usability and portability. Perhaps not as much as an 8.9-inch screen, but certainly more than a lower-res 7-inch screen. I expect that by next year, 7-inch displays are relegated only to UMPCs while sub-notebooks gravitate towards the 8.9- and 10-inch sizes. Some LCD panel manufacturers are already shifting their production lines in this direction and one even expects to manufacture 1.5-million small displays this year. Not a lot when relatively compared to the mainstream 13- and 15-inch market, but quite a bit for a market that was practically unheard of two short years ago.Going back to the optimal size and resolution preference, I’m torn between 8.9- and 10-inches myself. I’d use either of these at WXGA and probably be happy and productive. How about you? What’s the ideal screen-size and resolution on your “dream device”?

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  1. borax99 (Alain C.) Friday, May 2, 2008

    I’ve been using the Fuji P1610 for about a year now, at 1280 x 768 on an 8.9-inch screen and, for me, that’s turning out to be way to small (aging eyes).

    I find this screen size would work better for me at 1024 x 600. Otherwise, I’d have to vote for a larger screen.

  2. Kevin C. Tofel Friday, May 2, 2008

    I completely understand as my four-eyes are getting older by the day. Have you increased the DPI to help compensate? I find myself doing that more and more as screens get smaller but offer higher resolution.

  3. Actually, don’t confuse screen resolution with size; they are actually different and depend on DPI (dots per inch) settings. For example, windows used 72dpi font settings for years, and as high res screens came along, defaulted to 120dpi. DPI is really just a scaling factor for the fonts you see; you can set it higher if stuff is too small. I have a super high res screen, but bump my dpi up to 160dpi so I can read stuff. For other tasks like image editing or word processing I use the zoom feature in the software programs to make things large enough. The reason to do this is that high resolution makes everything sharper and easier to see / read while adjusting DPI and zooming makes the stuff large enough. I would love to hear your thoughts on this guys?

  4. As an EEE PC user, I kinda like the 7 inch screen with the 800×480 resolution, though I do miss those extra 120 lines when I encounter a menu that disappears past my taskbar. High rez might be good for viewing pictures and high quality video, but I find the lower res screen of the EEEPC more forgiving when viewing highly compressed or low res video, whilst also keeping font sizes easy to read.

  5. Kevin C. Tofel Friday, May 2, 2008

    Eric, that’s exactly what I do as needed and as mentioned in my comment above. I always use my devices in their native resolution (for optimal clarity), but often bump up the DPI.

  6. I care much less about screen size than I do about resolution. To me, anything less than 1024×768 is maddening to use — scroll, scroll, scroll…or some dialog boxes don’t even fit. If you could give me a 7″ screen at 1440×1050, I think that’d be perfect for me.

    Now, we’re not talking touchscreens, right? If so, that’s a whole ‘nother enchilada.

  7. Kevin – right on. You know, it would be really cool if you did a post (or maybe a series) on resolution and DPI, how to set them up what they are why they are important, screenshots etc. It’s a kind of abstract topic that causes a lot of confusion and many people don’t know how to set things up in ways that would work best for them.

  8. 7″ at 1920×1200…?

    I like the sound of that. ;) It’d be too much for most people, though, I think — while that hasn’t happened so far, it’s bound to sooner or later, which is a trend I wholeheartedly support.

  9. James Kendrick Friday, May 2, 2008

    This is something we’ve been covering for two years now:

    http://jkontherun.blogs.com/jkontherun/2006/06/some_thoughts_o.html

    As devices get smaller it’s an even more important topic than ever before. My thoughts:

    5″ screen- 800×600 is perfect
    7″ screen- 1024×768
    9″ screen- 1280×800 (or 768)
    12″ screen- 1280×800
    15″ screen- 1600×1024
    17″ and bigger- 1980×1050

  10. borax99 (Alain C.) Friday, May 2, 2008

    Kevin and Eric, I have experimented with DPI settings as well as IE text size, but usually fall back, because it plays havoc with pop-up windows and the like, and with some websites. The only UI customization that is a must for me was widening the scroll bars (think I saw that here, actually) to make stylus navigation a bit easier.

    On another note, despite the P1610’s excellent integration of touch, my next device *must* have either an active or capacitive touch digitizer. Active preferred, I find I really miss cursor tracking and hover pop-ups. Guess that’s another story for another day.

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