Could You Survive With A 5:4 Monitor?

Could You Survive With A 5:4 Monitor?

There’s a common belief these days that if a monitor doesn’t have a wide aspect ratio, it’s not worth using. I disagree. In many cases, a non-widescreen monitor is actually the better choice for a lot of people.

Contrary to popular belief, the aspect ratio of a non-widescreen monitor is 5:4, not 4:3. If you play a DVD of a TV show on your computer using VLC, you’ll see that at 4:3, it doesn’t fill the whole screen; there will be thin black bars at the top and bottom. However, if you set VLC to a 5:4 aspect ratio, the entire screen will be used. 5:4 is very close to 4:3, but 4:3 was originally an aspect ratio for TVs.

The most popular sizes for 5:4 monitors are 17 and 19 inches. Both usually have a native resolution of 1280×1024.

Disadvantages of using a 5:4 display

There are three major disadvantages of using a 5:4 monitor.

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1. Watching movies will give you a small picture

When you play a DVD on a 5:4 monitor, you’ll see big black bars at the top and bottom. You can adjust or zoom, but no matter what you do, those bars will be there. It’s not the best viewing experience.

2. It’s hard to view two application windows at once

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A 5:4 monitor doesn’t give you much horizontal space. For example, if you have a browser window open at 1024×768, you’ll only have 256 pixels left for something else. Other than a widget or instant messenger, there’s not much you can fit there.

3. Wide aspect ratios are necessary for modern games

Technically, modern games don’t require a wide aspect ratio, but if you want the full gaming experience, a widescreen monitor is necessary.

Advantages of using a 5:4 display

If you don’t watch DVDs, don’t play games, and typically only have one application window open, a 5:4 monitor is a great choice. Here are three reasons why.

1. If you’re going to use a resolution of 1024×768 anyway, go with 5:4

The most popular resolution on the internet is 1024×768. It’s used more than any other resolution. Setting a widescreen monitor to use 1024×768 resolution can make things look stretched. If you want the best readability with that resolution, use a 5:4 monitor.

2. Older games look best on a 5:4

Whether you play authentic retro games or reissued retro games on platforms like Steam, the best way to view them is with the original 5:4 aspect ratio.

Older games on wide monitors don’t look good at all. For example, Starcraft only runs in one resolution, 640×480, in full screen. If your video control software doesn’t add black bars when playing standard aspect games on a widescreen display, you’ll hate how it looks.

If you’re a gamer who enjoys both retro and modern games, having a 5:4 monitor as a secondary display is a good idea.

3. Perfect for single-taskers

Some people like to use applications in only one way – maximized. They only use one app at a time and even hide the taskbar. When they have that one program open, it has their full attention.

For these types of computer users, the 5:4 aspect ratio is the best fit.

Side note: Don’t even try to convince a single-tasker to use a different computing setup. You’ll fail. These people are convinced that Windows doesn’t support multitasking, even though “Windows” means “multiple” because it’s plural. There are plenty of people who have no idea that Windows can run more than one thing at a time. If you showed them how to use ALT+TAB, their heads might explode.

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