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10 things you should look for in a netbook

When you're evaluating netbooks, you have to weigh the convenience of their small form factor against a variety of limitations. Erik Eckel explains several key considerations that will help you find a suitable middle ground.

When you're evaluating netbooks, you have to weigh the convenience of their small form factor against a variety of limitations. Erik Eckel explains several key considerations that will help you find a suitable middle ground.


Who saw this coming? In the day and age of quad-core CPUs, 17-inch laptop displays, and terabyte hard disks, who'd have thought small laptops with slow CPUs and little storage would set the world afire. But that's just what's happened.

Wired magazine took note in its February article, in which it said that netbooks "violate all the laws of the computer hardware business." These small computers, designed mainly for e-mail and Internet use, are not potent systems. With smaller and slower hard disks, little RAM, energy-sipping processors, tiny keyboards, and inexpensive price tags, netbooks can't even run many mainline applications (such as graphics arts programs, audio/video editing applications, and numerous 3D games).

Yet manufacturers are discovering that many users don't care. Sales are up, and the category's hot, with companies tripping over themselves to introduce new netbook models.

Why? Many users seek simple devices they can use to access the Internet, send and receive e-mail, and edit basic office documents and spreadsheets. That's it. They don't need expensive features they'll never really need or use. They just want access to the much heralded "cloud."

However, not every netbook is right for every user. Before you join the ranks of 8.9-inch, 1.33GHz-CPU, 1GB-RAM netbook users, here are 10 elements to consider.

Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.

1: Operating system

To cut costs and enable aggressive pricing, many netbooks are powered by Linux. Stable and reliable, Linux is also less expensive than Windows. With many netbooks selling for $400 or less, and OEM copies of Windows XP still selling for approximately $100 or more, it's easy to see how many manufacturers are tempted to pad margins by replacing Windows with Linux.

Further, many of the netbook models featuring Windows have XP Home builds. Those systems can't host remote connections using Microsoft's Remote Desktop Connection technology, nor can they properly join Windows server-powered domains, as can Windows XP Professional and Windows Vista Business systems.

2: Display size

Netbooks are designed to be small, lightweight, and portable. One significant tradeoff is screen size. Many of the most popular models feature only seven- or nine-inch screens. Your best bet, before committing to a purchase, is to test using a sample or evaluation unit at a local retailer. Otherwise, you may be underwhelmed when such a small box arrives in the mail.

Many users find ~nine-inch displays the smallest they can comfortably use. Dell's Inspiron Mini 9- and Asus' Eee PC 8.9-inch screens, for example, support 1024x600 resolution. While that doesn't match the 1024x768 resolution that has essentially become the de facto standard for PCs, it's a tolerable exchange for portability and convenience.

3: Battery life

Netbooks grew from initiatives to build simple laptops that could be used by children in developing countries. As a result, these systems have an energy-conscious heritage, which is doubly important considering most netbooks are used away from homes and offices.

Due to differences in batteries, CPUs, hard disks (solid state versus traditional hard disk drives), and display technologies, battery life varies widely by manufacturer and model. For example, Asus Eee PC 1000HE users can receive as many as five hours of service from a single charge, whereas Wired tests found the HP Mini 2140 lasted only 2.5 hours.

4: Keyboard and pointer buttons

Small is the resounding netbook theme, and that applies to keyboards and track pad options, too. Don't expect systems with 8.9-inch displays to include full-size keyboards. Keys can actually prove alarmingly small (yet another reason you should test a potential new purchase before buying).

When trying to stuff critical features inside small footprints, designers' pointer (integrated track pad) options are limited. Most leading netbook brands (Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and MSI Wind) feature reasonably sized, well-working track pads. Don't assume, though, that all models' pointer options or selection buttons are well-designed. Be sure to review a netbook's pointer configuration carefully to make sure it meets your preferences.

5: Storage space

Many users are accustomed to 80GB, 160GB, or even 250GB notebook hard drives these days. With such vast storage capacity, they haven't had to limit the number of songs, graphic files, and videos they store on their personal computers. But netbooks are different. Some leading styles include only 16GB solid state drives that, once Windows is loaded, don't leave acres of space for file storage. Consider your needs and plan accordingly.


Netbook analysis and reviews


6: Optical drive

Remember how a netbook's theme is small and portable? One of the casualties of the low-cost/lightweight/small form factor profile is the loss of the optical drive. Most netbooks don't have a CD-ROM or DVD drive. Instead, users must purchase a standalone USB optical drive or transfer CD or DVD images to flash memory drives or over a network to install software on a netbook.

7: Weight

Portability is the key with netbooks. Many of the most popular 8.9-inch display models weigh only two-and-a-half pounds or so. But some may sneak up on you. Rethink machines weighing more than three pounds -- too many sub three-pound options are available for you to settle for needless deadweight.

8: Expansion capacity

Many users, when not traveling, want to leverage their netbook as another office system. Some netbooks are more cooperative than others. Review the specifications of the models you're considering to verify that they have sufficient USB ports and the appropriate video and network connections for your needs.

9: CPU

Don't be distressed when you review a netbook's technical specs. The CPU details are not misprints. While your desktop PC may boast a 2.83GHz quad-core CPU, netbooks are anemic by comparison.

The Intel Atom is often the CPU of choice. The Z520 (1.33GHz) and Z530 (1.60GHz) CPUs are among the most popular. Although these chips can't power demanding graphic editing programs, most 3D games, or engineering applications, they're more than adequate for accessing e-mail, surfing the Internet, and reviewing and editing most documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.

When reviewing CPU specifications, keep in mind that faster-running chips typically diminish battery life. Thus, it's a never-ending tradeoff: performance versus battery service.

10: Integrated wireless options

If netbooks are to connect you to the cloud, they must have wireless connectivity. Any more, that doesn't just mean connecting to 802.11g Wi-Fi networks. Many users require 802.11n or Bluetooth connectivity, while still others need their netbooks to connect to cellular networks.

Fortunately, netbook manufacturers are paying attention. Most leading brands include Bluetooth connectivity, at least as an optional component. Still others offer customers the choice of adding integrated cellular mobile broadband adapters.

If these options are important to you, hold out for a model that has the proper wireless options. The alternative is to become dependent upon a bulky dongle, and that's quickly become old-fashioned.


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About

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

32 comments
dougN
dougN

1: Operating system > Join Domains and Remote Desktop access Stick with Linux and you can join Windows Domains and multiple people can simultaneously access your computer securely via standard ssh + X windows, SSL encrypted VNC client/server, or the commercially supported NX client/server http://www.nomachine.com Just make sure you get a decent distribution like Ubuntu and it's pretty easy.

estcst
estcst

Ah yes, once again Linux fanboism has reared it's ugly head on Tech Republic. I'm seriously getting to the point of wondering why I even bother coming here anymore because it seems that everyone is cawing on endlessly about Linux. But let's look at the truth... "To cut costs and enable aggressive pricing, many netbooks are powered by Linux. Stable and reliable, Linux is also less expensive than Windows. With many netbooks selling for $400 or less, and OEM copies of Windows XP still selling for approximately $100 or more, it?s easy to see how many manufacturers are tempted to pad margins by replacing Windows with Linux. Further, many of the netbook models featuring Windows have XP Home builds. Those systems can?t host remote connections using Microsoft?s Remote Desktop Connection technology, nor can they properly join Windows server-powered domains, as can Windows XP Professional and Windows Vista Business systems." Really? That's not what I'm seeing over at NewEgg. Of the two Linux netbooks that are being offered both are being offered at 400 USD (actually, one is at 300 USD but it's open box with a suggested price of 400 USD) That puts both of them in the top 70% of price of all netbooks offered by NewEgg. Where's the savings? Once again Linux fanbois make up tall tales to make their pet project look good. Just go look at the numbers and you'll see what they're advertising is not what you're going to get. And BTW: So what if RDP isn't available on WinXP Home? It's not available on Linux either. Need to use a remote protocol? Any solution you can use on Linux is, in most likeliness, available on Windows as well.

art
art

You say: >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 1: Operating system To cut costs and enable aggressive pricing, many netbooks are powered by Linux. Stable and reliable, Linux is also less expensive than Windows. With many netbooks selling for $400 or less, and OEM copies of Windows XP still selling for approximately $100 or more, it?s easy to see how many manufacturers are tempted to pad margins by replacing Windows with Linux. I say: =========================== This is not necessarily true. Windows installs permit trial and adware installs that subsidize advertising costs to the point where OEMs can actually make money installing windows while only breaking even installing Linux. You say: >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Further, many of the netbook models featuring Windows have XP Home builds. Those systems can?t host remote connections using Microsoft?s Remote Desktop Connection technology, nor can they properly join Windows server-powered domains, as can Windows XP Professional and Windows Vista Business systems. I say: ================================= Red herring. People who want notebooks don't care about incoming rdp, nor joining a mobile computer to a domain. Of course, if VPN is important, the Linux installs can handle that. You say: >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 4: Keyboard and pointer buttons Small is the resounding netbook theme, and that applies to keyboards and track pad options, too. Don?t expect systems with 8.9-inch displays to include full-size keyboards. Keys can actually prove alarmingly small (yet another reason you should test a potential new purchase before buying). When trying to stuff critical features inside small footprints, designers? pointer (integrated track pad) options are limited. Most leading netbook brands (Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and MSI Wind) feature reasonably sized, well-working track pads. Don?t assume, though, that all models? pointer options or selection buttons are well-designed. Be sure to review a netbook?s pointer configuration carefully to make sure it meets your preferences. I say: =================================== This is an excellent point. While the Eee 1000 has a bigger screen than the Acer 9", the Acer has a better keyboard layout just by virtue of thoughtful placement. On the other extreme, even though the Dell 9 is the same size as the Acer and only slightly smaller than the Eee, it's keyboard isn't much better than a PDA. You say: >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 6: Optical drive Remember how a netbook?s theme is small and portable? One of the casualties of the low-cost/lightweight/small form factor profile is the loss of the optical drive. Most netbooks don?t have a CD-ROM or DVD drive. Instead, users must purchase a standalone USB optical drive or transfer CD or DVD images to flash memory drives or over a network to install software on a netbook. I say: =============================== This is only a Windows problem, Linux program installs and updates are all best handled over the Internet, not via optical media. You say: >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 8: Expansion capacity Many users, when not traveling, want to leverage their netbook as another office system. Some netbooks are more cooperative than others. Review the specifications of the models you?re considering to verify that they have sufficient USB ports and the appropriate video and network connections for your needs. I say: ================================= You really should rethink using a netbook if you want a desktop replacement. That's not what they are for. Think of netbooks the same way as auto fuel and power efficiency. Innovation will allow manufacturers to make future netbooks that compare favorably with the energy and weight/size forms of those today, while having power much more comparable to a desktop. But is that a good idea? Instead, they should improve weight and battery life, and leave desktop replacement features to full sized laptops. This is comparable to what auto manufacturers did with better engine design in the last decade. Instead of making them more efficient, they made them more powerful. See where it got them? Thanks for an excellent article.

danlanier
danlanier

Most users don't think about what they really need before they make an IT purchase. The Netbooks have the "cute" factor down pat, which equates to sales. Functionally they also win because most users only use computers for email, web surfing and solitaire. So it wins there too. As with any element of technology, qualifying your needs then selecting the tool is the most critical step.. and the one most looked over by users. IT Professionals are often tasked with trying to make an unwise purchase work or trying to train the end user on what is an appropriate purchase. I carry a Nokia N800 at this time. It does essentially the same thing as a netbook. It's been a fun toy but I'm faced with qualifying it's replacement. The netbook comes close, however my dream would be something more of a "Net-tablet" of about that size. As far as I know, that isn't available (Yet). Overall though, I'm most humored by the manufactures & professionals amazement to why the netbooks is so popular... it seems they need to take time and find out what people really want. Asus stumbled upon a goldmine by accident.

melias
melias

"8: Expansion capacity Many users, when not traveling, want to leverage their netbook as another office system. Some netbooks are more cooperative than others. Review the specifications of the models you?re considering to verify that they have sufficient USB ports and the appropriate video and network connections for your needs." I can see nothing good coming from trying to use a netbook as an office machine, unless you plug in plenty of external hardware. (drive, keyboard, mouse, monitor, kitchen sink...) There goes your power savings, even if many of the components are externaly powered. Even then, eventually, you will get sick and tired of it and purchase a system designed for office/home office work.

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

1. XP ain't much more than $30 more than the Linux edition. 80% of all netbook returns is because people bought the Linux version and returned it because they don't know Linux. 2. 10" screens are more common. 3. I have an Asus 1000HE and and getting more closer to 7 hours than 5 with normal usage. 4. While the keyboards are compressed, every brand is different. 5. Agree. SSDs are too small. 6. I think just about all netbooks lack optical drives. Adds to size and weight. 7. Extended batteries [i.e. 6 cell or greater] add to the weight but give extra battery time. Trade off. 8. Some netbooks allow extra RAM as well. 9. Or the N260 and N270. 10. Noticed that just about all the Acer netbooks have no wireless N [and many with smaller hard disks]. Also note that not all netbooks have bluetooth or [if needed] a built in webcam].

ShoePhone
ShoePhone

I started looking very closely at the pros and cons of different netbooks models with the idea that I would purchase one ... and I ended up ordering a new standard laptop since the prices have really come down since the last time I bought one. The final decision point? I guess I'm not "mobile" enough, and the lighter weight "pro" didn't make that much of a difference to me when I could get a power machine.

danlanier
danlanier

Though a netbook could never qualify as a true "dream machine" (I'm way too much a power/volume freak.. never enough CPU pwr, never enough RAM, Never enough storage) But for me, what would qualify as something to bother carrying around would be: 1. Netbook with Tablet function. Here the Nokia 800N has spoiled me. 2. Dual Atom? Sure, I'll bite. 3. All things Wireless- 3G, 4G, Bluetooth, 802.11n (upgradeable to final) and possibly USB Wireless (beta support and upgradeable to final) 4. HD- Ipods clear 160 Gigs... Netbooks have enough room for this (and more) 5. RAM- I'll take ram over battery life. Give me "ALL you got Scotty!" 6. Battery- Allow it to be charged either by plug-in or charging table (flux). 7. Display: 6" or 10" either is fine. I'd probably go with the smaller because I have to carry it around with me. Does it exist? Not yet, but it certain may in the near future.

ShoePhone
ShoePhone

And yet there are people in the cubical world pushing for bringing in netbooks. They don't use CD drives (we have taken away all their priviledges) so why not something small and portable, or so they argue. So, we have a good list of "things to look for" in Netbooks, but as it is with so many new gadgets, the customers will go out and buy what they want without consulting us. We don't want netbooks, so we don't develop a list of "standards" for them until we have many of them sneaking into the company.

dcolbert
dcolbert

"I can see nothing good coming from trying to use a netbook as an office machine, unless you plug in plenty of external hardware. (drive, keyboard, mouse, monitor, kitchen sink...) There goes your power savings, even if many of the components are externaly powered. Even then, eventually, you will get sick and tired of it and purchase a system designed for office/home office work. " Wait a second. How many full sized notebooks go right into a dock the minute they arrive at work - a dock that is hooked up to an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse, and provides external power to the notebook, at the very least (I've also got a 1Tb USB drive permenantly hooked to MY dock). What is the difference, except maybe you might chose to add an external optical drive with a typical Netbook? And, for the majority of the work I do on my NOTEBOOK (surfing the web to research solutions and find vendors, responding to e-mail), a netbook would suffice fine as a secondary office machine that was also portable.

marm
marm

I must say that this article is terribly dated, much of what he wrote may have been true a year ago, but not today. Just look at Amazon ASUS 1000HE and you will find 10.1' screen which you don't mention 160 gig HD Windows XP,Albeit Home 1024 x 768 scrollable or compressed 9+ hours of Battery time BlueTooth and wireless N N280 1.66MHz processor 1.3MP camera 1GB RAM upgradable to 2GB Etc, etc and less than $400 The current Acer models and others are similarly equipped. Mike Arm Sr. Systems Engineer Herndon, Va.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Every descrition of a netbook, basically says that my 10gb HDD with its 350mhz glory running XP Pro should NOT be able to run photoshop, especially with only 256mb of RAM, and yet it does, no problem, its even fairly speedy. I even used WindowsMovieMaker on it to make our vacation photos into a video, the compile took 2 hours, but the editing itself was smooth. (Source and destination files on much larger network drive as combined it was well over 5gb) I just don't get it... I also don't understand why the odd resolutions, you can't tell me we don't have fine enough screens as I have seen 10 inch desktop monitors capable of resolutions up to 1600 x 1200, granted it is impossible to read, but still, why not use a proper resolution on a netbook? It's not even a widescreen resolution on netbooks is it? Hell my first CRT ever back in 1997 was easily capable of 1280 x 1024 and it was a 15inch monitor (still using it too, it has great picture, used as secondary monitor) Also, 400 dollars is still to expensive for a disposable laptop IMO. The 200 dollar range would be more like it, then even if it was running Nix I would probably buy it. If the Nix sucked I'd just install XP Pro on it.

brian
brian

HP Journada was the only thing around that was: 1) small enough to use while standing in a cabling closet. 2) light enough to carry around all day - I mean literally CARRY ALL DAY. 3) had a serial cable function that actually could connect to the Cisco routers and Nortel switches. The keys were painfully small, and you had lots of lighting problems in cable closets, so its monitor was very weak in those spaces. Give me a netbook with Linux (or other) to run PuTTY or TTERMPRO and we're cool.

jpen
jpen

One of the feedbacks I have had from users is that they have purchased these "Netbooks" in the assumption they can use them as a replacemnet for Laptops on the road. They cannot handle many of the Applications because of display size and other limitations. Typically QuickBooks and ACT! are applications that cannot provide the level of access and user interface that these users want. They are a great addition to the tools we use but really need to work in an OnLine or Cloud environment. A stepo up from PDAs but not a laptop replacement.

melias
melias

However, are there docking stations for netbooks? I admit, I have not looked for them, but neither have I heard of such. If there are no docking stations, then you are back to hooking up devices directly to the netbook, or at least to an external USB hub. If you wish, you can purchase a USB docking station. All that is true, but at this point, you have spent enough money to buy an inexpensive laptop. Savings lost, still using netbook with lower performance. Ouch!

dcolbert
dcolbert

And I've seen a lot of this in the press, recently. Someone else noted already that XP Home is adding nowhere NEAR $100 to the retail price of a Netbook these days. We're also on the cusp of seeing dual core atoms and netbooks in convertible tablet/touch screen configuration. These devices are going to continue to grow their niche and I suspect they may become the "portable convergence devices" I've long desired. With that said, I can understand the reason the author wrote broadly and non-specifically. You still can find an Eee PC 701 at Toys r Us or an older Acer at Target or WalMart, or the earlier HP Mini at Best Buy... and a lot of those concerns DO apply. Although a new wave of more powerful netbooks arguably arrived with the Lenovo S10, the first generation is still lurking out there, and most of the problems the author noted ARE specific to that first generation. Although, to be fair, many of the "2nd generation" problems (like shortened battery life due to increased performance and accessories) are also true. Of course, that caveat applies to traditional notebooks as well. The more powerful, the more bells and whistles, the more cells you need in your battery, and the quicker those cells are depleted, and the more weight you add. Still, these articles that lag so far behind on Netbooks seem real common right now, and I'm not sure where that is coming from.

john3347
john3347

"1024?768 resolution that has essentially become the de facto standard for PCs," How is 1024x768 a de facto standard for computers less than 3 or so years old? 1024X768 is appropriate for a 4/3 aspect ratio and renders a quite distorted picture on a 16/9 screen. Circles become ovals and 110 pound models become - - well, much more than 110 lb. I have to search hard to find a 4/3 monitor (aka non-widescreen)in today's market. The 16/9 aspect ratio that has taken over the market for some not-understood reason, would need 576 vertical pixels to match 1024 horizontal pixels for a non-distorted picture. 1024x600 approximates this number close enough that a picture is not noticeably distorted. I cannot understand the popularity of the 16/9 aspect ratio which comes from a panoramic movie screen, not a word processor or spreadsheet, but that is off topic here. Does everyone in the computer world except me use their computers primarily for viewing panoramic movies?

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

I don't think they can ever drop the price below $300 (US). Right now it was leaked out that MS is selling the Win XP license for just $15. I know the Asus Eee 1000HE [and probably others] default to 1024*600 but do have a compressed 1024*768 mode. It ain't that bad.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

That was the one for me years back. Sony's Vaio barely bigger than a VHS tape and with a built in webcam. Lovely little machine but the cost was far outside my University budget.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

It's not necessarily good that we continue to develop disposable things (cars engineer to wear out since lasting too long is bad for business). From the other side though, it does means a much more affordable replacement cost. Now if we could encrypt them without too much performance loss it simply becomes a matter of selling more backup appliances that can reimage your replacement.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Its a truely disposible laptop, everything we make these days is meant to be disposible, why not laptops? Normal full size laptops tend to start breaking down after 2 years... which is pathetic... but anyways... they cost 2k each. Netbooks seem perfect way to justify something that is esentially already built to be disposible.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I point was more towards being rushed out the store door with your netbook running whatever platform rather than the sales staff taking the time to understand one's needs and provide them a selection of applicable machines. Maybe the sales staff know nothing past the minimal marketing material they get in the morning meeting, maybe it's just about how many are helped rather than how well. The medical industry has a similar thing; how many patients can you treat and bill in a day. By contrast, the English aproach pays doctors based on how well they treat each patient.

Slayer_
Slayer_

I got Quickbooks 2007 installed on my 300mhz machine with 256mb of RAM, runs beautifully. If a netbook can't run quickbooks, the world truely is f**ked.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

If someone returns a netbook stating that it didn't run Crysis or Quickbooks then I have to wonder how fast the store rep rushed them to the commission.. er.. sale.

dcolbert
dcolbert

For any netbook that I know of. But you did answer your own question, there are usb docking station solutions that would work fine in that capacity. I imagine one could go cheaper and use a USB hub - really. I guess that wouldn't give you a VGA port for an external monitor, though. The comparisson between high-end full features netbooks to low-end discount notebooks is an easy one to make. I bought my daughter an Acer from Staples. 15", Windows Vista Home, 2gb memory, core duo 1.7ghz (2400, right?) for $450. She loves it. My Lenovo S10 cost $399. Adding a 500gb drive was another $80 or so. Upgrading the memory to 2gb was $25, I think. So, I'm alread ABOVE her price, and I've got far less processing power. But that 15" LCD becomes a HUGE liability on a trans-atlantic flight, let alone getting through security to just get on the plane. That notebook is also cheap and feels fragile, like it wouldn't hold up to well for a road warrior. The Lenovo doesn't feel cheap at all. It feels like it is REAL comfortable spending the MAJORITY of time being bumped around inside a backback, crushed under the seat in front of me on a plane, thrown under a subway seat... There are notebooks built like that, too. They cost a LOT more than the Acer and the S10 combined, and the idea of that getting misplaced or stolen while being used portable gives me pause. So a decent netbook has a place, IMHO. Mine is almost ALWAYS with me. Something I really wouldn't consider with a NOTEBOOK. Notebooks have really become "desktop replacements you can easily move to another room in the house or take with you if you ABSOLUTELY have to" and/or "corporate desktop replacements you take from your home office to your business office, and back again. My netbook, I take it with me to school, I take it with me to my daughter's all day swim meets, I put it in the back of my car when I go on a trip. I sometimes turn it on while I am working on my notebook and use it as a glorified iPod, but instead of the 80gb on my 5g, this has 500gb. (And didn't cost much more than my iPod cost new, either). I'll take my netbook up to work, and surf the web while watching TV, catching up on this or that. The size is ideal for things like that... And, on occasion, I hook it up to an external monitor, KB and mouse and use it as a real desktop alternative, although a slow one, and it does fine like that, too.

Slayer_
Slayer_

As even on wide screens I usually set to a normal square resolution and let things look distorted. It usually ends up that way anyways since most the games I play want square resolutions. But Heck, I am still using an awesome CRT monitor that I would put up against any modern LCD any day. Faster refresh rates, faster resolution changes, far better colour, far better flips, far better brightness, far better sharpness. LCD looks completely washed out in comparason. the "Digital Vibrance" settings in nVidia were not required on a CRT because the colour is already very rich. They also last FAR FAR FAR longer than an LCD, most the CRT's in my house are approaching 15 years old (except my favorite one which is 4 years old)

john3347
john3347

There is no Best Buy left in the U.S. Other big box stores that I know of in my area do not have ANY 4:3 monitors whatsoever. I do not remember seeing any computer sets with a 4:3 monitor lately either mail order or in stores. Some mail order outlets have 4:3 LCD monitors in 17" and 19" inch sizes, but usually only have one selection in each of these two sizes. Widescreen monitors are EVERYWHERE!!!! Really, though, I was just making the point that, for all practical purposes, 1024x768 screen resolution is 3 year old news. What is the current widescreen "standard"; something like 1280x800?

Slayer_
Slayer_

Maybe I live in a shitty province, but I can drive to regent ave. best buy and find 30 4:3 LCD monitors pretty effortlessly. And yes, the widescreen crap pisses me off too, I really hate how video games are doing this now too. i got a great monitor, but games these days are making me lose screen realistate. However, I now place Xfire stuff and heat guages in the black bar areas to use the space.

john3347
john3347

Maybe EBAY?? Do system builders not still have installation rights to XP Pro??

robo_dev
robo_dev

you may draw sniper fire. :O

Slayer_
Slayer_

I wont' tell you about my legally purchased key that MS decided a year later should be considered pirated, and that now I hand it out freely.