What's the benefit of 16:9 on a 20-inch monitor?

I have a question. Is having a 16:9 aspect ratio monitor (as opposed to 16:10) really all that beneficial? The answer is, "it depends".

CBS Interactive

I have a question: is having a 16:9 aspect ratio monitor (as opposed to 16:10) really all that beneficial? The answer is, "It depends."

If we're talking strictly about resolution benefits, the specific size of the screen matters greatly. For example, a 16:9, 21.5-inch monitor has a native resolution of 1920x1080, whereas a 16:10, 22-incher tops out at 1680x1050. That's an extra 309,600 pixels you'd have at your disposal on the 21.5-incher. Gaming, movies, Photoshop--virtually all apps would benefit from more pixels. Yes, even porn. Or so I hear...ahem.

On the flip side, a 16:9, 24-incher's max resolution is 1920x1080; however, a 16:10, 24-inch monitor has a higher native resolution of 1920x1200. To complicate matters a bit, Dell's smaller, 16:9 SP2309W is a 23-inch display with a 2048x1152 resolution.

So, clearly, for certain screen sizes there are resolution benefits to 16:9. Also, with a monitor capable of 1080p (1920x1080) resolution, you'll get to watch 1080p, high-definition content without it getting stretched or shrunk to fit the screen.

So that long-winded setup brings me to the HP 2009m: a 20-inch, 16:9 monitor with a maximum resolution of 1600x900. As a rule, 16:10 monitors at 20 inches have a max resolution of 1680x1050. So with a monitor this small, what's the real benefit in going to 16:9? Sure, high-def content (1080 and 720p) will fit better, but will there really be a huge difference in quality and in the experience you have?

Now, I just got the HP 2009m in this week and, while it's definitely pleasing to the eye, it doesn't boast many improvements over the HP w2007 we reviewed a couple years back--unless you consider 16:9 on a 20-inch monitor an improvement, since the w2007 had a 16:10 aspect ratio and 1680x1050 resolution. On HP's site, the newer 2009m costs $20 more. Are we really expected to pay $20 more (yes, a small difference, but still) for a lower-resolution monitor?

OK. Now, to be fair, I haven't tested the monitor yet. There could be many hidden benefits I'm not yet privy to--performance and power consumption being chief among the possibilities. I'll be sure to keep an eye out for any of those boons when I review the monitor in a couple of weeks. For now, check out the slideshow .

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Don't Miss
Hot Products
Trending on CNET

HOT ON CNET

Mac running slow?

Boost your computer with these five useful tips that will clean up the clutter.