Update: problem solved with the purchase of a bigger monitor. See the comments.


I have been reading various websites on the subject of blurry text and LCD monitors, and what I am reading is not encouraging. Apparently this is a problem with a lot of different LCDs, larger ones too not just this little one. All the effort seems to have gone into upgrading the graphical display, for gamers and people who web-surf (for pictures, I presume, I leave to your imagination pictures of what), but those people who actually use the computer to read and write get to suffer eyestrain.

Another thing: type is somewhat clearer at larger font settings, but — text set above a certain font size (except for headers and the like) annoys me. I can’t stand those books printed out in large type for people with bad eyes, either. Paragraphs of large text, whether on the screen or the page, look like they are “shouting” at me. I’m weird that way.

Another thought I had was perhaps the odd size of the monitor had something to do with the text problems. The display is 15 1/4 inches wide, not the standard 15. Set at anything but 1280 x 768, images are distorted, though text is slightly better, but not good enough to be worth stretched-out, bizarre looking graphics. (I do like to look at undistorted images.)

I’m sure this is very boring for everyone reading this (”Is she still going on about the stupid monitor?”), but it’s my preoccupation of the moment. A reader emailed me suggesting I text the monitor on the laptop to make sure it isn’t the videocard that is the problem. I also have the other computer I could test it on — the old Windows 98 computer that is the whole reason I bought this, so I could give my friend the old computer along with the old CRT monitor. I promised to her like a year ago. Well, I will let you know the results. (”Oh joy!”)

Computer fun update: I am typing this on the laptop. I can only upgrade the laptop resolution settings from 1024×768 to 1280×1024. It’s set at the latter now. Type is slightly better looking, so I assume my desktop’s video card is probably somewhat to blame. (It’s still not wonderful, though.)

I found out another wonderful thing: my ancient Windows 98 computer is d-e-a-d dead. I assume that one of the power surges this area is prone to took it out, though I swear I just used it recently. Well, I am not investing one cent into fixing something so old, so I guess I have me an expensive paperweight. And my friend will be getting the WinXP desktop, as I did promise her a computer; I guess I’ll be getting myself a new desktop eventually. Argh!

I forgot to add: also images are distorted on this monitor at any setting but 1280 x 768. Maybe getting a weird-sized monitor wasn’t such a good idea.

10 Responses to “Frustrations”

  1. Mr. Bingley Says:

    The problem with lcds, from what i understand, is that they have but one resolution at which they look good. If that results in text being too small then you are, unfortunately, sol. It’s a definite bummer.

  2. vanx Says:

    Frustration you don’t know. My technical prowess with computers is such that taking my daughter’s new laptop, which ain’t so super-tricked out after all, out of the box has me in a four-day mental and sometimes physical fetal position. I need an IT department. I hope some day to reach the more ethereal plane of computer frustration. What is the WI-IFI thing?

  3. Sigivald Says:

    What Bingeley said.

    LCDs have one “real” resolution, because they have actual physical pixel elements that cannot be resized, reshaped, or moved. (On a CRT, you change resolutions by changing how fast an electon beam moves across the phosphor coating on the front, so you can resize and reshape your pixels more or less arbitrarily.)

    That the LCD is 15.4″ rather than 15″ makes no difference; all that would mean is that the pixels are very slightly larger than a 15″ of identical resolution.

    Is it really 1280×768 rather than 1024×768?

    If so, it’s a widescreen LCD, so the aspect ratio (ratio of height to width) will be different than on a standard 15″ LCD, which would be probably 1024×768. (This is unrelated to the issue of fixed resolution or things looking bad if you use another resolution. I would find it odd that the cheapest LCD they had was a widescreen, though.)

    You’re also correct that the desktop’s video card (or video cable, if it’s not part of the monitor) could be to blame; you could try tweaking the refresh rate in the settings. I doubt the monitor, seeing as it was cheap, has digital input and a DVI plug, but if it did, you could get a videocard with digital output and probably improve things. (As it is, CRTs and cheaper LCDs take an analog signal, and the LCD converts it into something it can use internally, but this won’t get you as good a picture as a real digital input.)

  4. rhhardin Says:

    I’d wild-eyed guess the video card doesn’t put out quite the right shape to hit a single pixel
    and not the adjacent one somewhat, and it happens to be on the edge of working correctly so
    isn’t noticeable on an analog CRT but is on the wrong side of a threshold on a digital device.

    I’m having to infer how these things work.

    My 17″ LCD works fine with the analog video out of my 133mHz win95 boat anchor. My own
    experience is don’t mess with things lest you get into a mode where the monitor says
    “Illegal frame rate'’ and invites you to fix it without seeing anything using the mouse.
    This involves resurrecting the former CRT monitor.

    Becoming an expert, I figure, involves a trail of broken systems, some of which can later be
    fixed using parts of others you’ve broken.

    I suppose borrowing a LCD monitor, or loaning yours, might discover something.

  5. andrea Says:

    I went and exchanged the monitor for a 17-inch from the same manufacturer. Much much better — I’m testing at 1280 x 1024 — and that’s the only adjustment I’ve made — I just unpacked it five minutes ago. and it still is much easier to read. It’s still not perfect, but that could be my videocard, or my eyes, or both. And the 15 1/4 inch could have been an inferior product, which was why there were tons left at Compusa.

    This one was only ten dollars more than the other one at the cash register, and I’ve got one of those rebate thingies for $70 off, so I’ll come out 60 bucks ahead. For now — I’ve already decided to save up for a Mac Mini. I’ll give the old desktop to my friend, once I’ve gotten it cleaned up, with the CRT, and use the LCD as a backup monitor for the laptop when I get tired of squinting at the laptop screen until I get a replacement desktop. (Maybe I won’t get a Mac Mini. Maybe I’ll just get another Windoze computer. We’ll see.)

    Anyway, glad that’s over with. Now I need some tea.

  6. TheFatGuy Says:

    Man, whatchoo need a desktop peecee for, anyhoo? Didn’t you just get that laptop? Set it up to use the big monitor and big keyboard and big mouse when you’re not using it in your lap. Hook it all up to a USB hub, and plug/unplug as desired. You can even go buy docking station cheaper than a whole new computer and be super-sweet about switching back and forth. I might even have one laying around here for a Thinkpad that I’d send you (if I can find it.)

    Reason I say this is, I tried that whole laptop / desktop scenario and got tired of never having the file or bookmark or software I needed on the computer I was working on. It’s easier to make a laptop your Central Mainframe.

  7. andrea Says:

    I’ll probably do that. The buying of any sort of new desktop won’t occur for quit a few months anyway, as I have now spent every bit of my pin money. (And I had a pizza delivered for dinner. Hey, I have a migraine, from being out in the horrible glarey sun, so I deserved it!)

    Docking stations are groovy. They use them at work for all the people who have Thinkpads.

  8. skubie Says:

    Docking stations are cool, but at home all my computers are networked and on all the time (when I am there) so it never matters where a particular file is at any time. External USB hard drives are reasonably inexpensive so it doesn’t even matter how large the hard drive is on any given computer. Stuff that takes a lot of space, like all my .mp3s go on a shared 120G drive. So does tax info and anything that I’d be likely to use from any machine like reference materials (I also have a shared CD tower). Even games, if they permit installation on a network drive.

    No kidding, networking’s the way to go. I wired the house with Cat 5 when it was framed up eight years ago mainly as a geeky exercise (because I could, not because I needed to). Later on I picked up a wireless hub so laptops didn’t need a patch cable and the network’s really come into its own.

  9. andrea Says:

    Yeah I need to set up a network drive. Got some files to move. This machine needs a severe cleaning.

    I love my wireless. I am thinking Sunday, while everyone is in bed with a hangover, I’ll take the Precious (the laptop) out for a spin, maybe to one of the local free wifi hotspots.

    Unless this migraine doesn’t go away.

  10. TheFatGuy Says:

    Email me your laptop model number, and I’ll see if my docking station works. I think there’s one down at the ranch, too. Since I never throw anything away, it’s only a question of what box it’s in, and what county that box is in.

    (when I am there)

    heh, heh If I was always there, I’d never be lacking anything, either.