I often hear complains by users who are not satisfied by the wide-screen monitors and prefer traditional screen ratios of 4:3 and 5:4. Unfortunately such monitors now are quite rare and the laptops with such screens are completely wiped.

Most of people to whom I spoke and I myself do not use their laptops to watch TV broadcasts or HD films because they have TVs and computers with much bigger screens and thus better suitable for the purpose.

I heard several theories proposed by the disappointed users to explain such overwhelming transition by all manufacturers to the wide screens without leaving the users any options.

  • Use of TV matrices. According to this theory, the producers of computer monitors switched to use wide screens because of the availability of a lot of of cheap matrices which being mass produced for new generation HD TVs. Producing one kind of a matrix for all devices is cheaper than producing one kind for TVs and the other for computers.

This theory does not explain why the laptop producers also switched to wide-screen, because small-sized matrices are not widely used in TV design. Other objections include that it also does not explain why initially the ratios 16:10 became popular insted of 16:9 used in the TVs. It also does not explain the fact why TVs mostly use BGR pixel ordering while the computers mostly use RGB (although some matrices probably can be turned 180 degrees).

  • Cheating. Since the monitors were sold for price per inch of diagonal size, so the manufacturers after transition to wide screens could sell a monitor with smaller matrix area for better price.

This theory does not explain how wide screen became popular on devices where "per inch" pricing has no sense (i.e. portable devices) as well as the fact that now it is cheaper to buy a 1920x1200 monitor than that with resolution 1600x1200, so a person who wants a 4:3 monitor is forced to by a wide screen one, because it is cheaper and then use it with resolution 1600x1200.

  • Small vertical viewing angles. This theory suggests that the cheaper TN matrix types used in modern monitors have small vertical viewing angles while horizontal angles are much better. So when using a monitor with high vertical size the image at the top and bottom of the screen looks with wrong colors.

This theory does not explain why if a vertical a viewing angle is good for 1920x1200, it is bad for 1600x1200. It also does not explain why high-end medicine and industrial monitors such as Eizo RadiForce who always used matrices with high viewing angles in all directions also undergoing slow transition towards wide screens.

So what were the actual reasons behind such total transition in all areas without leaving a possibility of choice?

  • 2
    I'm unclear as to how this is historical, seems more like a manufacturing or economics question. – MichaelF Feb 18 '12 at 12:17
  • Ok, if you can give a historical basis then you can vote to reopen, otherwise I'd move it to another site that would be more appropriate. – MichaelF Feb 20 '12 at 17:15