Perhaps Wider Isn’t Always Better

Regular readers of this blog know that I’m a proponent of Constant Image Height display in my home theater. Just last week, I posted about an interesting new technology that could improve the resolution of Blu-ray discs to benefit CIH projection. However, even I have to concede that the aesthetic advantages of a Cinemascope-shaped screen must sometimes give way to practicality. To that end, I don’t really understand the point of Toshiba’s new 21:9 aspect ratio Ultrabook computer.

It’s very likely that I feel this way because I almost never watch movies on a computer. I’d of course prefer to watch them on my home theater projection screen, but even when I travel, I’m much more liable to watch videos or movies on my phone or a tablet. The convenience of those portable devices hits a sweet spot for me that’s suitable enough for entertainment purposes. On the other hand, a computer, even a laptop, is a work device. I need it to do word processing, internet browsing and other computing tasks. As such, I feel like I need to have screen real estate maximized in the vertical direction so that I have enough room to move programs around on the screen. The U845W Ultrabook‘s 14.4-inch 21:9 screen seems like it would be very awkward at that.

A Toshiba rep argues that the wider screen could be used to display a regular 16:9 movie side-by-side with a browser, or perhaps two processing documents beside each other. I suppose that’s a fair point, but the screen size (a 14.4″ diagonal screen at this ratio should be about 5.6″ tall) and low-ish 1792×768 resolution make that seem impractical as well.

Toshiba is billing the model as an “entertainment optimized ultrabook,” which may mean that I’m simply not the target audience. Perhaps if I ever used my laptop as an entertainment device for watching movies or playing games, I might be more excited about this. It’s possible that a shorter screen may also be more convenient to use on a plane. (I’ve certainly run into issues opening my current laptop screen on a plane.) Nevertheless, right now, this doesn’t do much for me. While I will continue to preach the benefits of Constant Image Height display on a large home theater screen, it just seems like an inconvenient gimmick on a notebook computer.

The Toshiba U845W Ultrabook will be available on July 15th, 2012 at a starting price of $999.99.

Does anyone out there find this more intriguing than I do?

[via PCMag and Arstechnica]


  1. William Henley

    This COULD also be useful for doing field work if you are editing, but usually when you are editing, you have a small preview window in your workspace anyways, so kinda defeats the purpose.

    The people I see most using 21:9 displays in computint usually work all day in spredsheets. Sellign it as an “entertainment optimized ultrabook” I think is going to fail to reach its target audience. Put this display in a business laptop, and it will get eaten up.

    • William Henley

      Actually, I am not that familer with Toshiba products, but the Satelite IS their business line, isn’t it? The picture actually looks like a business laptop. Still, I think they are missing the mark if they are advertising it as an “entertainment optimized ultrabook”.

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