Thursday, October 05, 2006

Horizontal or vertical display?

Samsung Syncmaster 970p with vertical orientation

This is the question to think both when you buy your desktop and mobile device. Generally speaking, vertical displays may fit better to most of user needs. Actually, all business needs fit better into vertical display:

  • it is easier to track your agenda on vertical screen, as you can see more items on it - this is specially important for Windows mobile smartphones, as you may have less screen real estate than desired;
  • it is easier to write/read text or tables (and this may also include surfing) - newspapers and notebooks are normally vertically oriented, which makes you much more efficient when using vertical screen, as they appear like more ergonomic. This is more important on the desktops than on the mobile devices, as even wide small screens are still acceptably wide
  • reading e-mail is again much easier, as you can see more items on the screen, and on the desktop, you will have more space for preview pane.

While there are many Windows mobile devices with vertical display (most of PDAs work like that), almost all desktop displays are vertical. It seems that manufacturers are a bit conservative. Also, you should take under consideration that home use horizontal orientation is almost necessary, as you wouldn't be able to watch movies otherwise. Horizontal screen on mobile device may be useful in one more scenery - browsing of web sites that are made for desktop computers. The reason is simple - they were made for much bigger screens, and the wider small screen you have the more likely rendering of web sites may be more accurate (not to mention that on Pocket Internet explorer you will avoid horizontal scrolling).

Luckily, you don't have always to chose. Many displays can be used both horizontally and vertically. From Widnows mobile 2003SE there is ability to switch screen orientation. Many applications supported this even on older versions of Windows mobile. This is usually turns to be useful for web browsing, reading text, watching images. Still, if your phone/PDA has physical keyboard as input method, it might be useless to switch screen. Actually, some smartphones even require you to use horizontal orientation for messaging, which is not preferable.

On the desktop side, you also have displays that allow switching of orientation. On the image you can see Samsung Syncmaster 970p which has pivot function.