My first hi-res laptop was a Dell I8000 which had a, huge at the time, resolution of 1600×1200. It was quite expensive because of this but also a wonderful and productive experience.
My next laptop was also a Dell, a I8600, which had a “wide-screen”. This means it had a 1680×1050 resolution. The switch was not so heavy even if I lost 150px in one shot. I moved the panels (as in gnome panels) to the right and gained some extra space. The following laptop, a Dell D820, also had a 1680×1050 resolution. There was no problem adapting until the new Lucid Lynx appeared this year. Due to a bug, the panels did not worked vertically. In fact they were not even designed to be used vertically. I ditched one and moved everything in the other but still lost at least 16px. Not so much. It was just a bit frustrating that the interface is so badly designed from this aspect and also that nobody seems to see/acknowledge that there is less and less vertical space.
Now as I am searching for a new laptop I seem to find only laptops with 1600×900 thus facing the option of losing 150px again. This is called HD and is should be a feature. If you need to read a A4 page in a pdf reader, or a normal web page in a browser or a long function body in eclipse you start to scroll often and often. Not to mention that there are more and more horizontals bars (menubars) which do not offer any option for vertical positioning. If you have a 1600×900 resolution and a standard install you will lose in a shot: 16px for the panel (taskbar), 16px for the windows title, 16px or more for the menubar and most likely another 16px for some sort of tab bar. You are then left with around 800px of working place in a good case which generates 2:1 ratio (1600×800). Even worse case: you probably have a status bar, or 2 ore more menubars. As an example in Firefox on a 900px height you have 684 usable pixels even if your panels are hidden (auto-hide) because of the title, menubar, navigation toolbar, bookmarks toolbar, tabbar and status bar.
I do not use Windows but I was talking to a friend who works on autodesk and otther cad software and he was complaining about the same tendency of having horizontal menus which take more and more height (in the image of MS Office ribbon) and this starts to be difficult even on the large 24” monitors he is using. So what’s the reason for this shrinking tendency and the lack of vertical bar support? I cannot believe the vendors are thinking everyone is just watching dvd’s on their laptops. And even so, having 2 black margins is not horrible. Or is just about making an extra 2$ for the 2sq inch of screen which is cut from the production cost. What’s the solution for getting the extra height we need to be productive?
- I agree with the fact that you can use an external display which you can eventualy rotate 90 degrees but I am talking here about a laptop not a fixed workstation. It can of course be argued that a laptop is only for travel but what about consulting work, what about working in a coffee shop or on the balcony? And the question is in fact not to adapt but why this was possible 10 years ago and not anymore when you can see all these super sharp, super resolutions screens on mobile phones while the laptop screens are dull and gray from the dinousaurs age.
- I’ve also created a facebook group related to this “frustration”