Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board


Which Dell laptop display is best for working with text (source-code) all day.

too many options, too little time
Monday, November 24, 2003

I am in the process of choosing a new laptop at the moment and I think I am going to go with a Thinkpad in the end because I can actually go to the dealer and try one out.

Unless you know someone with each one of these Dells I would recommend heavily against getting one if you are going to be using it as your main machine, despite the attactive prices. The screen is the most important bit and you need to see it.

Dominic Fitzpatrick
Monday, November 24, 2003

I have an Inspiron 500m with SXGA and love it for coding.
I would recommend WSXGA. Fonts might be too small in WUXGA.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Also make sure it is running WinXP with ClearType turned on.

Monday, November 24, 2003

I just got rid of my Dell with 1400 x 1050 display mainly because it just wasn't very nice to use all day long. My next laptop will probably be 1024 x 768 or maybe 1280 x 800.

Tony E
Monday, November 24, 2003

I have an old Insprion 8200 with the UXGA 1600x1200 with wide viewing angle.  I bought it that size specifically for running Visual Studio.  The trick I find with the source code is to pick a larger font size (in fact I set the global one in the display settings to 110dpi) which gives you more pixels per character.  Combined with a cleartype (don't forget to tune the gamma setting) it has fantastically readable text.

I have seen a 8500 with WSXGA and that was good too.

Monday, November 24, 2003

I have the Inspiron 8500 and got the mid-level screen (~1650x1050) - it came with 120 dpi set and text looked great, but all the graphics in XP are scaled and looked terrible (IE scales all web graphics too).  So I had to turn it back down to 96dpi - which isn't too bad, but a little small.  If you don't like small type - go with the lowest resolution one - (1440x1050 ???)  The PowerBooks use this resolution too FYI.

Marty Turpentine
Monday, November 24, 2003

Based on the specs from dells website:

The Dell 15.4" inch (diag) UltraSharp(tm) WUXGA native display resolution is 1920x1200 pixels

The Pixel Pitch is listed @ 0.172 mm

Using this Monitor DPI (pixel density) Calculator:

The calculated DPI = 147
an Aspect Ratio of 1.6
which is the common 16:10 Screen Aspect Ratio

Has anyone tried setting the Windows XP video Driver's DPI setting to 157 to see how good or bad the text gets rendered with and without ClearType enabled?

Heston Holtmann
Monday, November 24, 2003

Correction above, replace 157 with 147

Heston Holtmann
Monday, November 24, 2003

I have a 15" SXGA+ screen (1400x1050), and by that calculator, I'm pretty close to the 120 DPI mode that Windows calls "Large Fonts".

Large Fonts are WAAAAAAAAY too big. On a laptop screen that I'm sitting no more than 18" away from during normal use, I would lose too much text using Large Fonts mode. In fact, my regular desktop LCDs are all pretty much dead on 96 DPI ("Small Fonts" mode), and those are also great, because those monitors sit quite a bit further away (about 30" instead of 18").

Now, that new Toshiba tablet that's 12.1" 1400x1050... I bet that's straining pretty tough on the eyes.

Brad Wilson (
Tuesday, November 25, 2003

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home