11-12-2011 05:40 AM
I need to buy two new Thinkpads, one for my wife, and one for me, and I want to check if my understanding of display resolutions and their limitations is correct. Presently, we have two T60s running Windows XP, with 15" 4:3 displays at 1400 x 1050 native resolution. With this display, the resolution is 117 pixels/inch, and for example, normal Windows 32-pixel icons are about 1/4" high, and normal 8-pt icon fonts are becoming difficult to read (we're both 58, and our vision isn't getting any sharper).
In looking at optional native display resolutions for new machines, I've been thinking that I shouldn't go higher than the 117 pixels/inch we have now, and probably should go a little lower, to make icons and fonts slightly larger. The only reservation I have with this strategy is that sometimes we use a laptop where there's a good bit of ambient light, and having the FHD display, with its 270 NIT brightness (vs. 230 for every other display) might be beneficial. But the FHD display is even higher resolution, i.e.. 141 pixels/in, meaning all the standard items like icons, fonts, etc. will be almost 20% smaller - not the direction I'd like to go. Of course, having higher resolution is nicer for viewing high-native-resolution graphics, but if the normal day-to-day stuff is difficult to read, why bother with the higher res?
Is there any reasonable software solution for my problem? My sense is that when you start messing with "zoom" factors, objects get slightly fuzzy, and I haven't liked that trade-off when I've had to make it before. OTOH, I'm not really sure why that's the case. Anyway - I'm not very familiar with what's available in the newer versions of Windows, so I sure could use some advice about whether there's anything that'll allow me to use a higher display resolution, have objects and web-pages appear clear and sharp - yet not be so small as to strain these old eyes. Thanks for any suggestions!
11-12-2011 06:16 AM - edited 11-12-2011 07:49 AM
I have far vision issues similar to yours. What you wrote above is true, if you are going to stay with older technolgoes such as window XP and related software programs, you would need to count the DPI. If you are getting new laptops, they normally comes with window 7 and the upcoming window 8.
The good news is that around April 2011, most of the new programs are designed using .NET 4 and WPF (Window Presentation Foundation).Just think about it as a kind of new technology that Microsoft is coming up with (in 2008) to cater for better visual experience when you use the laptop. Almost everything came together in April 2011 and the technologies became mature enough for newer software to be developed using the WPF.
The older operating system such as Window XP Programs and programs use graphics that are bit map. So when you try to zoom in to the text, icons and buttons, the programs try to 'guess' how to show a bigger picture to you and the results tend to turn out to be ugly and fuzzy.
The newer operating system and hopefully the programs that come with WPF technology uses vector graphics. These are graphics that are mathematically calculated. So no matter how small or how big you zoom the text, graphics and buttons, they stay the same shape and clarity. A native PDF file is a good example, you can zoom in and still the text are very clear.
So the good news is that you should get a laptop screen as big as you can carry, lets say a 15 inch screen and get the 'native' resolution that is as high as you can get, lets say 1900x1200. From this native resolution, you can adjust easily to match your viewing pleasure. In darkness, choose a lower resolution (1280x800) and in brighter location, choose a higher resolution. etc
a) Window 7 and lenovo comes with capability to change the screen resolution easily, just right click on the screen and modify the resolution you want, you can also save the settings, resolution 1, 2, 3, low light, bright light, movie, web etc.
b) My current favourite are those newer software that that support WPF, like the window 7 itself, microsoft words, office etc. It allow zooming with clarity even without adjusting the resolution. I can leave the settings at 1600x900, select the settings for bigger icons, larger text, font size....
c) For surfing the web, I highly recommend using firefox and using a free add on called nosquint. Nosquint will allows you to zoom to the size you want, on individual website you like, and it will remember the comfortable level that you want.
d) Get 24 inch monitors with 1900x1200 resolution, it would greatly enhance your pleaure of using the laptops B-)
So summary is that you should go for as high a 'native' resolution as possible, because you can lower the resolution of the screen. But if you start with a low native resolution screen example, 1280x800, you cannot increase the resolution. to 1600x900. My suggestion is that the T60s are pretty good laptop, with decent speed. You can try download window 7 at http://www.mydigitallife.info/windows-7-iso-x86-and-x64-official-direct-download-links-ultimate-prof... These are official (ie not pirated) download links provided by microsoft for digital distribution. You get 30 days of trial before you need to activate it. If you can spare 20GB from one of the T60s (I remember those are 40GB HDD?), then you can create another partiton, install window 7 and test out what I mentioned regards adjusting the viewing resolution.
11-12-2011 08:20 AM
11-12-2011 08:34 AM
Jerry, welcome to the club. I just took delivery of a new ThinkPad T520 (4239), with 15.6-inch, 1600 x 900 native resolution, anti-glare screen. I'm pushing 70 and quickly ruled out any smaller screen size, despite having rather good vision. The first reply you received was very informative and right on target, including the suggestion to get a large monitor for desktop use. I've upgraded my desktop monitor twice and currently use a Samsung 24" with 1920x1080 native resolution. You may find that adjusting the contrast, brightness, and even background color of your computer's desktop will help optimize the display for your eyes. For example, my wife has glare issues and does much better with somewhat muted brightness. I need non-prescription reading glasses for print media but at normal computer monitor distance they were too strong to focus sharply without moving closer. Without them I found myself backing away from the monitor for sharp focus, which was somewhat counter-productive. So I got a cheap pair one step weaker (1.00) that turned out to be just right for use with my big monitor at normal viewing distance. Others I've talked to had a similar issue, with their normal glasses not working well at computer monitor distance. If you have prescription glasses to correct astigmatism as well as the usual "shrinking arm length" you might ask your doctor to prescribe lenses that are optimized for computer monitor viewing distance.
11-12-2011 08:44 AM - edited 11-12-2011 08:46 AM
These are all great suggestions. And, being one who has dealt with similar vision problems (cataracts, detached retina, etc.) and significantly older (80!) I can offer some tried and true remedies.
First, leave resolution at native. Then there are other ways to make text more readable. DPI setting is one I use - 125%. That is done through Control Panel/Display/Set Custom Text Size (DPI.) And you can also adjust Clear Type text settings.
The other thing I like to do is select a font that is readable to me with out using a reading glass. <vbg> To do that, right click on your display and select Personalize. Then Window Color, and down below near the bottom of that screen is Advanced Appearance Settings (in blue.)
Click there and you can set font, size, and attributes for every item on the screen. Example, I do this for Menus: Font, Verdana; size 12; Attribute, Bold.
I have all of my computers set this way and never need to use zoom or glasses.
11-12-2011 09:01 AM
What CorkyG said. Messing with the screen resolution on an LCD display just makes things fuzzy. Stick with the native resolution and adjust the DPI settings and inidvidual sizes as needed.
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11-12-2011 09:15 AM
Wow, seem like I'm the younger one here B-)...I'm pushing 44.
Anyway, just for information. The DPI thing is going to be a thing of the past (soon). This is due to older programs that is not WPF. Window vista and window 7 is already WPF which makes it behave like the addon NoSquint that runs on Firefox. This means that you can adjust the icon to a certain size, the text to another, all dynamically! Instead of setting to 125DPI which may fit the husband, the wife may need 150DPI etc. The older DPI method means constant changing the DPI then rebooting.
Hopefully with more software adopting the new technology, every software can just run at native resolution, with no DPI adjustment. You just need to increase the icons, text, graphics and just about anything on the screen to the size you like.
With regards to the resolution changing solution, you may notice that the text of some older software are very fuzzy when you change the DPI and the command icons are out of position. So one of the solution I have found is to quickly drop the resolution down to complete the task, then restore the resolution without the need to reboot.
11-12-2011 09:23 AM
11-12-2011 11:17 AM
DPI Scaling in Windows 7 is very helpful. I had it enabled at first, but then I decided simply to zoom in and out within each individual application. I have the T420 with the 1600x900 screen and it is ~130DPI. I often find myself using the zoom feature in word and changing word to "web view" so I don't have lots of unusued space on the side. My T400 is roughly a ~120DPI screen and I also do the same thing.
I find that "CTRL"+"PLUS KEY (+)" is helpful when browsing. This ends up being "CTRL: + "SHIFT" + "+" this activates the Zoom In feature in Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer. CTRL + "MINUS KEY (-)" zooms out. On the 130DPI screen, I often browse at somewhere between 125%-150%.
For those websites that are properly designed, or when viewing videos, or when using two windows side-by-side (two excel sheets, word and something useful when I'm researching, etc.) I find the 1600x900 screen most useful. Additionally, I hear that the FHD display on the T520 has much better color reproduction and is beautiful to look at.
11-12-2011 12:05 PM
And, here are a couple of other aids I use with IE and web browsing. Tools/Internet Options, then Fonts. Play with this until you find the one you really like. My current fave is SWISS721 BDRND BT.
Then Accessibility - I check "Ignore fontstyles specified on web pages," and "Ignore font size specified on web pages." Once in a while you need to compensate with Ctrl + Scroll Wheel or change Text Size. And, I do have special glasses for computrer use - actually middle distance glasses where the seeing distance is about 24 inches or so.
And, for this forum, Rich Text is much better to see than HTML. HTML ignores hard return commands.