Readers who follow my musings on Mac360 or Boomer know that I have a penchant for screen real estate. The bigger the better. Dual screens are OK. Three is better. Desktop or notebook– you can never have too many pixels.
Yet, here we are in the 21st century, an era where smartphones have gone HD and televisions are hitting 4K HDR with affordability, and there are still some technologists who think widescreen notebooks are dumb.
Our various and sundry Apple devices have developed in such a way that the screen shape doesn’t matter as much as it once did. macOS High Sierra, as generations of Macs from yesteryear, can stretch east and west, north and south, and still be useful. Even iPhone and iPad can handle multiple display sizes these days.
So, why is Vlad Savov grumbling about widescreen laptops and how is it they are dumb? I don’t know, but let’s start with a point of order. They are notebooks, not laptops. How 1999. And the machines themselves are not sufficiently intelligent via AI or application capability as to be called dumb– screen included.
I’ve been thinking about aspect ratios. After years of phones, laptops, tablets, and TV screens converging on 16:9 as the “right” display shape — allowing video playback without distracting black bars
I agree. 16:9 seems about right, but it’s is anything but a universal aspect ratio and not likely to be because Hollywood and the technology industry do not agree on much. In fact, nobody is agreeing on much of anything these days. Just compare Fox News and CNN.
That’s prompted me to consider where else the default widescreen proportions might be a poor fit, and I’ve realized that laptops are the worst offenders.
Savov seems to grumble more about
laptops notebooks than desktops and I understand why. But none of them offer the same aspect ratio so what’s the point? 16:9 is popular. Or, at least something close to 16:9 is popular. iPhone X is 19.5:9 while the MacBook Pro is 16:10.
See? No agreement. Even Netflix movies and TV shows do not agree on a screen size so this is an exercise in futility. Example?
Practically every interface in Apple’s macOS, Microsoft’s Windows, and on the web is designed by stacking user controls in a vertical hierarchy.
Well, yes and no. The Menubar is horizontal. The Dock, for most of us, is horizontal but can also be vertical; left or right on the Mac’s screen. Clicking on the traditional Dock location makes pop up selections vertical, and, of course, Menubar is always vertical and always down.
So, why the complaint?
The argument seems simple. Most of our navigation and menu selections have a vertical orientation while the screens have grown ever wider.
The exception to my argument comes when you get enough extra horizontal space to allow you to run two (or more) vertical work canvasses side by side. The ultrawide 21:9 desktop monitors are appealing in part because of their ability to comfortably host multiple browser and app windows side by side.
In other words, widescreen trumps vertical menus if you go wide enough. That’s bull crapola. The consistency of Menubar menus is a hallmark of macOS. The only negative is when the display is not wide enough and some functions are truncated in applications with more menus than normal.
As to the Dock, there isn’t much about it that runs vertical so that part of the argument does not hold water, either. Turn the Dock into auto pop up mode if you need more vertical screen. Or, move it to an east or west edge; left or right.
I speak as someone who spends an unconscionable amount of time watching YouTube videos on his laptop: the black bars don’t matter. Especially with the latest display technology, and with ever-shrinking bezels, a 3:2 laptop screen, such as on the Surface Laptop, is gorgeous to behold no matter what content you put on it. And it’s a much better fit to the way laptops are used on a daily basis.
Notice that iPad is not 16:9, either, but not the Surface displays 3:2. iPad runs 4:3 and I think that is the same as some older cameras. This is an argument not really worth arguing much about. For Macs and PCs, scree real estate matters more than the shape of the screen. iPad and iPhone should not be the same because of how we hold them and use them.
That said, it’s OK. It’s Friday and we’re allowed to have at least one much ado about not much.