on the futility of finding a new non-widescreen LCD.

Why is it that nobody makes an LCD in 4:3 format anymore?

Robin upgraded her monitor to a lovely 22″ AOC widescreen. I am still using one of the 19″ LCDs we bought back in Knoxville in oh-six or so. Lately, it has been showing its age a bit, so it’s time for me to move on as well. Trouble is, all I can find is 16:9 widescreen, which I greatly dislike.

16:9 is ducky for movies, but it’s exactly the wrong format for displaying text on screen. Its saving grace is that the bigger widescreen flat panels are usually wide enough to nicely display two pages side by side, but when I compose in full-screen view, wide text columns don’t scan well to the human eye. Also, when I play a game on a widescreen in that size, I feel like I’m constantly panning my view, like I’m watching a tennis match. But since absolutely nobody makes new LED LCDs in 4:3 format anymore, I guess that’s what I’ll be buying.

<grumble>Kids and your wide-screens and cassette tapes and Intertweets these days. Why, in my day, we didn’t have monitors! We had shadow boxes. And we was thankful!</grumble>


30 thoughts on “on the futility of finding a new non-widescreen LCD.

  1. Peter says:

    Marko, some screen drivers permit you to turn a 16:9 widescreen LCD on its side, to display the longest side vertically, then rotate the display 90 degrees so that you can fit an entire page (or more) onto the screen. I’ve done this a couple of times, and it’s very useful. (The Intel Graphics Media Accelerator Driver offers this option, for one.)

    Hope this helps.

  2. Charles says:

    Can you change the orientation of the monitor to vertical? Would 16:9 work if vertical?

  3. Peter (not that one up there, another one) says:

    “Absolutely nobody” is, um, a bit of an overstatement. Newegg shows SEVENTY FOUR non-widescreen, LCD monitors. They’re all smaller…21″ being the largest. But they exist.


  4. ILTim says:


    Had one yesterday, but stock changes rapidly

  5. ILTim says:

    Oh and 19″ 4:3 = 24″ 16:9 if your only concerned about the height.

  6. Leatherwing says:

    My second monitor at work is a Dell that is 4:3 (1280 x 1024). Not sure fi they still sell them, since I got it as a hand-me-down and I’ve had it two years.

  7. ibex says:

    THANK you! I thought I was the only one who thought like that.

  8. theAxe says:

    I have an LG widescreen and when I go into my menu pushing the bottons on the exterior, one of the options puts veritcal black bars on the sides and displays the middle in 4:3.

  9. Dr. Feelgood says:

    Beware of the 17″ and 19″ LCDs, most of them are actually 5:4 not 4:3.

    My office uses Dell, and the screens are all 20″ 4:3. Their web store (not the outlet) has one listed for $399.


  10. Sigivald says:

    What Peter said.

    All of those “Widescreens” are also old-fashioned “portrait” monitors when you tell the software it’s been turned 90 degrees.

    (At most you’ll need a VESA mounting arm for it; some of the nicer ones like the high-end HPs support rotation in the native mount and drivers.)

  11. Fodder4Thought says:

    Why not simply have it repaired (or do it yourself)?

    It’s usually a blown cap in the power supply or somesuch, though I’ve had to replace a backlight inverter before (for my current 42″ LCD tv).

  12. Marko Kloos says:

    I won’t lie: the bigger screen size is nice. After working on Robin’s machine for a while, going back to mine feels a bit confining.

    • Arkh says:

      Well, you should go all the way to get a 30″ monitor. 2560×1600 resolution is really sweet.

      • MarkHB says:

        Yay and nay. The Dell 30 is absolutely *awesome* for certain types of work. I use mine for 3D modelling and animation, and it’s unbeatable for that at this juncture. But for “normal person” stuff, there’s a serious fatigue factor. The dot pitch is delicious – but standard fonts are a smidge dainty. With this much real-estate, eyestrain on standard web-page palettes starts to become a factor. And in first-person gaming, having to look around a bunch adds that splintered-second time lag that can lead to taking a rocket *ahem* somewhere personal.

        For Pro Graphics, unbeatable. For casual users, something smaller is less tiring.

        • Arkh says:

          For webpages, Windows 7 has a really neat trick : move a window to the left or right side of the screen and it’s resized to take half the screen size.
          Do it with your browser and your mail and it’s like having a double 1280×1600 screen.

          For games, those little babies have a 1:1 option making it possible to play in less than 2560×1600 in the middle of the screen with all useless pixels black.

  13. Ian Argent says:

    You know what I end up using the screen width for? Additional dockables. On the Mac, try putting the dock to the side

  14. alan says:

    Good luck finding one with a vertical resolution higher than 1080 too. The only one Frys carries is the Apple 27 inch.

    Which I want so bad I can’t stand it.

  15. MichaelD says:

    There are still plenty of 4×3 ratio LCDs out there, although admittedly the selection at the high end is a little sparse. This is the model I have at home: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824176176. It’s an HP LP2065, with 20 beautiful inches of diagonal size and 1600×1200 resolution.

    Here’s Newegg’s entire selection of 4×3 monitors: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=100007617+600030156&QksAutoSuggestion=&ShowDeactivatedMark=False&Configurator=&IsNodeId=1&Subcategory=20&description=&Ntk=&CFG=&SpeTabStoreType=&srchInDesc=

  16. Kraz says:

    What Peter said. Having a monitor which can rotate 90 degrees is the bee’s knee’s. It’s really great for examining page layout and looking at PDFs.

    Plus it’s an extra step I have to undo to actually play any games. Helps with the ‘ol GTD.

  17. wolfwalker says:

    “Why is it that nobody makes an LCD in 4:3 format anymore?”

    It’s not true that nobody makes them … but it is true that 4″3 monitors are a lot harder to find now. I personally suspect that this is because widescreen monitors are cheaper to make. Like TVs, monitor screens are measured on the diagonal. If you do the math, a 22-inch 16:9 screen has significantly less area than a 22-inch 4:3 screen does. Smaller area = cheaper to make.

  18. Katrina says:

    Find one that rotates. Then you get 9:16, which might be more like what you’re looking for. Lots of people at work use the vertical orientation.

  19. Sigivald says:

    Alan: Dell also makes those (two of them; 27″ and 30″).

    Naturally, can’t buy it at a retailer, but they exist.

  20. More annoying is that you can’t get laptops in anything but widescreen anymore which drives the design in all the wrong ways. Now you have a choice of a tiny screen height or huge wide laptop with full keyboard, etc.

  21. freddyboomboom says:

    Besides the Dell 2007FP that Dr. Feelgood pointed out, CTL has a 19″ one, the 191L.

    Peter (not that one up there, another one)’s newegg link also has a bunch.

    I suspect they’re not advertised as heavily because the manufacturers want you to spend the extra money for the widescreen monitors, so you can be just like the neighbors.

  22. BioBob says:

    Not futile at all. http://www.newegg.com still has what you are looking for as previously mentioned. 1920 x 1200 LCDs aren’t too far off and plenty of those are also available at amazon as well, especially in the larger sizes.

  23. Justthisguy says:

    My violin is crying crocodile tears for you, Sir. I am reading what you wrote on a CRT monitor I bought back in ’03, or so. Suck it up and deal with it.

  24. Außenseiter says:


    I don’t believe that. Even a forsaken EU backwater like Slovakia, where merchants are a bunch of greedy basterds (how else can one explain that even with all taxes accounted for, stuff is often 10% more expensive than in the UK or in Austria.. which is right next door)…. we had no problem at all buying not one but three 1920×1200 flatscreen LCD’s.

    CRT’s are nice, hard to beat the image quality.., but a 21 inch CRT weighs about fifty kilos, and produces enough waste heat to keep half of our house cozy unless it’s below freezing outside. (good thermal insulation, that’s one of the few things I and the green idiots can agree on)

    Downside is, that the flat I now live in, if I say, play a 3d game on my laptop, it gets noticeably warmer in just two hours.. But the gas bill sure looks very nice.

  25. Ken says:

    You had shadow boxes? Luxury. All we had was a slab of broken concrete, and a rock to scribble stick figures on it with. If we was lucky, the rock was limestone.

  26. Richard H Brown says:

    So don’t use the entire width of the screen for text purposes.
    Set your browser, word processor pgms to 4:3 like on a 19in monitor, and put something in the left over space, like a chat window.

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