A Tweak In Time

By Rossi Fernandes Published Date
01 - Jun - 2007
| Last Updated
01 - Jun - 2007
A Tweak In Time
LCDs are quickly becoming mainstream here in India: 19-inch widescreen monitors can be easily found at around Rs 11,000. Let's take a look at what you can tweak, what makes LCDs a must-buy today, and more.

Note: Use the following tweak(s) with care. We are not responsible for any damage that may occur. For any Registry tweaks, back up your Registry before proceeding.

The Field Of View Problem
Most latest games come with resolutions suitable for widescreen monitors. But the issue is with older games, where resolutions of the 4:3 ratio are stretched to the widescreen aspect ratio. The field of view in game changes considerably and your game seems stretched and warped.

If a game has a resolution matching your screen, just go ahead and choose it. For those games that don't have it, you can manually try and force the game to run at a particular resolution. Most games have their resolutions settings in a config file in the installation folder, or in the Registry. You can alter those settings to suit your current resolution.

For example, most Quake 3- and Doom 3-based games have variables in their config file-such as r_customwidth = xxxx and r_customheight = xxxx; r_mode = -1 enables custom resolutions. Make the necessary resolution changes and save the file.

There's even a program called Game Resolution Switcher (http://grs.miniinfo.net/) which lets you set custom resolutions for a list of games. Another software that lets you set custom resolutions is called Powerstrip-www.entechtaiwan.net/ps.htm.

The other way to make things look a bit more normal is to change the Field Of View (FOV). There are some programs and sites that offer FOV calculators that calculate the preferable FOV for widescreens for those who have moved from the standard 4:3 ratio resolutions.

Powerstrip  allows you to force resolutions on game

For games where the default FOV is set at 90 degrees, 16:10 ratio resolution (1280 x 800, 1440 x 900, 1680 x 1050, 1920 x 1200) screen users should set their FOV to around 100 degrees. You may find these variables in the game config files.

Lower Power Consumption By LCDs-No Big Deal?
Some people believe that the lower power consumption of an LCD is overrated and that a cheaper CRT is the way to go. Let's just compare the power consumptions. A typical 19-inch CRT's power rating is set at around 100 W, and a similar-sized LCD, around 30 W. So what type of savings are we talking of here? Say you run a monitor for seven hours a day for a year. A CRT will then consume around 255 kilowatt-hours of power, and the LCD will do around 76. Assuming that 1 unit (1 kilowatt-hour) of power is priced at around Rs 4, the difference in bills between the CRT and LCD over a year is around Rs 700. Multiply that by thee years (the common warranty with most monitors), that's over Rs 2,100 saved. If you use your screen for more than seven hours, that translates to a lot more! Keep in mind, the difference in prices for CRTs and LCDs for the 17-inch and 19-inch monitors is really minimal these days.

Also remember, LCDs run at much lower temperatures. If you use an air conditioner in your computer room, the benefits of using an LCD might show up for this reason as well. Let's not forget the glare reduction.

Widescreen-Better Use Of Screen Space?
Widescreen monitors, obviously, have a wider layout. While this means that you'll have to do some amount of vertical scrolling, you can place two windows side by side. It provides a similar way of working to dual-screen setups. Certain LCDs let you rotate the screen to a vertical layout. This is really useful when you're browsing.

Widescreen resolutions allow better use of workspace

Widescreens are perfect for HD media and even standard DVD resolutions. When these videos are played on standard 4:3 screens as on almost all CRTs, you find a thick black band at the top and bottom-wasted space. On a widescreen LCD monitor, you're rid of these blank spaces, and the movie fits your screen perfectly (or close to perfect, depending on the media).

DVI (Digital Video Interface) is what you should be using with your LCD monitor-not your old VGA cable. DVI gives better quality compared to the VGA. Before buying an LCD, you need to make sure your graphics card has a DVI connector, and at the same time, make sure the LCD has it too. Most LCDs today come with both VGA and DVI connectors, but you might come across some that only have VGA connectors-to save on costs. VGA cables carry analogue signals that are converted by the graphics card. DVI is a digital solution and needs no conversion. Also, faulty VGA cables would result in degradation of quality.

Resolutions And More
It's common to find groups of monitors supporting the same resolution. For example, 17-inch and 19-inch widescreens usually have a resolution of 1440 x 900, and 20-inch and 22-inch widescreens have a resolution of 1680 x 1050. Larger screens don't always mean higher resolutions, so you need to find the perfect balance between size and resolution and see if it's worth the extra price you pay for a larger monitor.

There's no doubt that bigger areas on screen, no matter what the resolution, are always fun for movies and games, but when you buy a large screen for general Desktop use, you might have to place the monitor a little away from yourself. For example, if you currently have a 20-inch screen and sit 2 feet away from it, a 22-inch screen of the same resolution will display, comparatively, some increase in text size. You might therefore want to increase the distance. But always remember, never sit with your face too close to a screen-it can cause damage to the eyes.

It's the same case with large LCD or plasma screens which you would use as a television-a huge screen doesn't always mean high resolution. It's best again to keep it a distance that takes into account the size of your screen. Remember that sitting too close to the screen, in case of large widescreens of sizes such as 24-inch and higher, means you wouldn't be able to comfortably view the entire screen with a gap of 1 to 2 feet.

Resolutions, too, are a factor while talking of viewing distance. For example, low-resolution videos up-scaled to a screen won't be suitable for closer viewing. As much as possible, it's advisable to play high-definition media if you want to sit really close to the screen.

To give you a clearer idea of how much difference in workspace there is between resolutions, here's a graphical representation to help you relate with your current monitor resolution.  

Rossi FernandesRossi Fernandes