Screen ratio and size

skaertus

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Feb 23, 2009
3,222
374
Brazil
I was just wondering whether there should be any relation between the screen size and the screen ratio of devices. Let me explain.

I see that the current line-up of MacBooks use a 16:10 screen ratio; the current line-up of Surfaces and some other laptops use 3:2; the iPads use 4:3; and the vast majority of Windows devices, as well as the iMac, use 16:9.

I wondered why Apple would use 16:10 for laptops and 16:9 for its desktops and I guess the 16:9 format suits better large screens, as too much vertical space may make it more difficult for the user to look at the whole screen.

I also wondered what the best screen format would be for laptops.

The Surface Pro, for instance, has a very nice screen ratio at 3:2, but only perhaps its screen size is 12.3". The Surface Book and the Surface Laptop, both with 13.5" screens and a 3:2 ratio, feel they have a lot of vertical space (although not too much) which could be better used as horizontal space.

A regular 13.3" Windows laptop, on the other hand, with a 16:9 screen ratio, feels like having too little vertical space. A 15.6" laptop at 16:9 is much better as it has more vertical space.

The 13.3" MacBook Pro, with a 16:10 screen ratio, seems to have great vertical space, much better than regular 16:9 Windows laptops. The 15.4" MacBook Pro, on the other hand, has a little bit too much vertical space, which could be converted into some horizontal space (perhaps the 16:9 format would fit better this screen size).

Perhaps this makes some sense, at least for me.

I would conclude that the larger the screen, more it would benefit from being wider. 3:2 would be better suited for small screens, and 16:9 for larger screens, while 16:10 would be better for the intermediate.

Does this make any sense?
 

sracer

macrumors G3
Apr 9, 2010
8,359
8,721
Prescott Valley, AZ
I was just wondering whether there should be any relation between the screen size and the screen ratio of devices. Let me explain.

I see that the current line-up of MacBooks use a 16:10 screen ratio; the current line-up of Surfaces and some other laptops use 3:2; the iPads use 4:3; and the vast majority of Windows devices, as well as the iMac, use 16:9.

I wondered why Apple would use 16:10 for laptops and 16:9 for its desktops and I guess the 16:9 format suits better large screens, as too much vertical space may make it more difficult for the user to look at the whole screen.
I think the choice of screen ratios for Apple were driven by their design goal to not disrupt the keyboard layout. Wider aspect ratios allow for a full-size keyboard.
 

skaertus

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Feb 23, 2009
3,222
374
Brazil
I think the choice of screen ratios for Apple were driven by their design goal to not disrupt the keyboard layout. Wider aspect ratios allow for a full-size keyboard.
I think the choice of the screen ratio for the MacBook Pro was made in the past, when Apple decided to keep 16:10 instead of moving to 16:9 like nearly all Windows laptops.

The 3:2 format is a screen ratio only recently adopted by just a few models, such as the Chromebook Pixel and the Surface family. Apple's decision of keeping 16:10 was already made at that point and if Apple decided to move to 3:2, it could be accused of copying Google or Microsoft (which is something Apple never admits doing).

So, while I think 16:10 is a good screen ratio, I do not think the decision to adopt it was based on any study or on the best interests of the users.
 

sracer

macrumors G3
Apr 9, 2010
8,359
8,721
Prescott Valley, AZ
I think the choice of the screen ratio for the MacBook Pro was made in the past, when Apple decided to keep 16:10 instead of moving to 16:9 like nearly all Windows laptops.

The 3:2 format is a screen ratio only recently adopted by just a few models, such as the Chromebook Pixel and the Surface family. Apple's decision of keeping 16:10 was already made at that point and if Apple decided to move to 3:2, it could be accused of copying Google or Microsoft (which is something Apple never admits doing).

So, while I think 16:10 is a good screen ratio, I do not think the decision to adopt it was based on any study or on the best interests of the users.
That doesn't explain why the 11" MBA has/had a 16:9 screen.
 

skaertus

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Feb 23, 2009
3,222
374
Brazil
That doesn't explain why the 11" MBA has/had a 16:9 screen.
The 11" Air has a 16:9 screen so there is room for a full-sized keyboard. if they had adopted a 16:10 screen ratio, then the bezel would have to be ever larger to accommodate the keyboard. In the new model, they increased the size of the screen to 12", so there is no such problem anymore. That's my theory.
 

pastrychef

macrumors 601
Sep 15, 2006
4,520
1,017
New York City, NY
I am using a cheap laptop that has a 14" 16:9 screen and I agree that it felt a bit cramped. When surfing, it never seemed to show enough of the sites and I was constantly scrolling up and down. I finally broke down and replaced the 1366x768 resolution screen with a 1600x900 and it was a huge improvement.

The bottom line is, I feel resolution is as important as aspect ratio. Having higher resolution can help overcome that "cramped" feeling with wide aspect ratio screens. Of course, there are limits to how high a resolution you can use until things become too small... That's when PPI/DPI enters the equation...
 

skaertus

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Feb 23, 2009
3,222
374
Brazil
I am using a cheap laptop that has a 14" 16:9 screen and I agree that it felt a bit cramped. When surfing, it never seemed to show enough of the sites and I was constantly scrolling up and down. I finally broke down and replaced the 1366x768 resolution screen with a 1600x900 and it was a huge improvement.

The bottom line is, I feel resolution is as important as aspect ratio. Having higher resolution can help overcome that "cramped" feeling with wide aspect ratio screens. Of course, there are limits to how high a resolution you can use until things become too small... That's when PPI/DPI enters the equation...
A 1366x768 resolution is just terrible. I am currently using a 14.1" laptop with a resolution of 1920x1080 and it is just fine. Resolution is of course very important, but only to a certain extent, as text cannot be that small.
 

pastrychef

macrumors 601
Sep 15, 2006
4,520
1,017
New York City, NY
Yes, 1366x768 is too low but I couldn't complain since I only paid about $180 for the laptop... I contemplated installing a 1920x1080 panel but decided to go with 1600x900 due to the PPI.

1600x900 @ 14" = 131.13PPI
1920x1080 @ 14" = 157.35PPI

I was afraid that 157.35 would be too small to use comfortably at native resolution. So far, I've been very happy with 1600x900. In my opinion, it's the best choice for 14".
 

skaertus

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Feb 23, 2009
3,222
374
Brazil
Yes, 1366x768 is too low but I couldn't complain since I only paid about $180 for the laptop... I contemplated installing a 1920x1080 panel but decided to go with 1600x900 due to the PPI.

1600x900 @ 14" = 131.13PPI
1920x1080 @ 14" = 157.35PPI

I was afraid that 157.35 would be too small to use comfortably at native resolution. So far, I've been very happy with 1600x900. In my opinion, it's the best choice for 14".
I still prefer 1920x1080. I got used to "retina" resolutions.