My friends thought it was the coolest thing when Mountain Dew went to widemouth cans. I thought it was a sham. The only advantage was that you drank it faster, which was an advantage to them because you’d need to buy another but of no great example to you. If drinking it quicker was a priority, there really was no reason not to just pour it into a glass and drink it that way. Or buy a bottle. But I, for one, appreciated that the cans had limited my intake. That’s one of the reasons that when drinking something with ice, I never use a straw. The ice slows me down. That’s a good thing.
Alas, my view was the minority and before long almost all the cans to almost all the soft drinks were widemouth. It became a moot point, though, because 20oz bottles replaced 16oz cans as the standard anyhow.
In recent months I’ve been looking into getting a new laptop because my current one has about had it. Unfortunately, the ThinkPads have gone entirely to widescreen monitors. Right now getting desktop monitors with good ole 4:3 dimensions isn’t a problem, but I may need to bump up my purchase of an LCD monitor if I don’t want to be forced into getting a widescreen there, too.
This is one of those cases where I simply don’t understand the need for a new standard. I feel the same way about the transition to 16:9 for television, but at least that I can understand because it solves the problem of 16:9 movies and 3:2 TV. Since movies are largely about the visual experience, there are less things that need to be taken into consideration when changing a standard. I still think that 3:2 is superior, but the need for uniformity trumps my minority preference.
When it comes to computers, though, there ought to be more things to consider. First, there is no reason that monitors absolutely have to be standard. Computers by nature are more flexible than TV. People already have different resolutions and even different numbers of monitors on their desktop. Different resolutions isn’t a stretch.
The bigger thing, though, is that I just don’t see why widescreen is at all superior. My friend Kyle points out that they’re bigger. So? Is there any reason that 4:3 can’t be made bigger? Coworkers pointed out that it’s better for watching movies or playing games. Yeah, well, that’s not what my computer is for and my 4:3 computer did that just fine.
For the things that I and most people actually use our computers for, horizontally rectangular display is not particularly advantagous. In fact, if anything it would go in the other direction. In word processors we deal with documents that are usually on portrait paper. When surfing the web it’s easier to read down than it is side-to-side (which is why newspapers columnize their articles). With spreadsheets it’s a wash because some spread downward and others outward, but that just makes even dimensions more preferable to horizontal or vertical.
The only caveat on all of this is that I have not used Microsoft Vista. Is Vista’s interface set up so that widescreen is particular advantageous? That’s about the only thing that I can think of that doesn’t involve computer users being a bunch of idiotic sheep or a group more interested in watching movies on their PC than actually doing work on it.
I wonder if five years down the line a couple years after the 4:3 monitor has been all but retired if people won’t take a step back and realize that the old monitors were better and then turn around and pay a pretty penny for the crap they are now spending money to replace.