Best external monitor resolution

Discussion in 'Microsoft Surface Book' started by mikecox, Dec 20, 2016.

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  1. mikecox

    mikecox New Member

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    My Device:
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    My current monitor has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 which isn't even close to what my Surface is. I want to replace it with one that matches the Surface, but it doesn't look like exact match is possible.

    I do a lot of photo editing and Adobe software and I usually stay on the Surface for detail edits, but I have to adjust a lot of settings to get menus and panels to be readable. Then when I move the program to the ext monitor I have the change them back, because they are so large. So I can drag my photo editors between monitors without a hassle.

    What is my best option? Could I go with an Ultra HD; like 2840 x2160, or this that overkill?
     
  2. surfdock

    surfdock Active Member

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    Hi Mike, great question. The screen resolution is actually not very relevant at all. To make a good choice here, it is everything but the resolution that is important. Counterintuitive I know given that basically all marketing focuses exclusively on resolution and skimps on everything else. Its a sad state of affairs when these companies have to dumb down all the specs and just sell on one number.

    • Will you be using the SB built-in screen and the external monitor at the same viewing distance with an external keyboard/mouse? Or will you be using the SB screen much closer to your eye than the external monitor. This is a critical factor in choosing an ergonomic workstation setup for the long haul.
      • If you use the SB at the same viewing distance as the external monitor, then the default 200% scaling intended for laptop use is probably not sufficient and you'll want to bump that to 250% for an effective dpi of 107. Get a monitor to match that effective dpi.
    • What is your budget?
    • What is the largest physical screen size you can fit in your workspace? Will you be VESA-mounting it or have it rest on the desktop surface?
    • Do you care about color reproduction and realistic contrast? How much do you care and how much are you willing to pay for it? Will your photos be making it to print or just web/blog and that sort of thing?
    • What screen aspect ratio works for you? For photo editing, standard 16:9 aspect ratio screens are not terribly effective since that is designed just to watch movies. Many photo pros will use 16:10 or 4:3 or even square monitors to get usable photo content and controls on screen.


    Given these pieces of info, I'm sure someone can help you get the most out of your monitor choice. Without focusing on these questions you might want to take suggestions by folks that say "the monitor I got last week is great - here's is the Amazon link" with a grain of salt.
     
  3. mikecox

    mikecox New Member

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    First thank for this detailed response and I never take recommendations from casual useres seriously; I would never go to Amazon and buy a monitor based on what someone recommended. I give that same advice to my patients. I've heard patients rave about how awesome their doctor is when I knew, for a fact, the opposite was true.

    That said; here is my response.

    I'm not sure what SB stands for but I'm guessing it means the built in monitor.

    The screen on my Surface (#1) is 4" away from my external monitor (#2) which is on a riser so the Surface screen doesn't block it from view.

    When you say "get a monitor to match" I'm thinking "match the resolution" so I don't need to work out tweaks. Currently I have problem dragging windows from #2 to #1, where it fills the screen when it gets to #1. I guess what I've trying to say is that I want to work "seamlessly" between screens.

    I have a budget of $350, $500 max and I will gladly go to the max to get what I matches.

    I think the best size for me in 24", which what I now have mounted on the riser above my Surface. Any larger and I'd have to step away, or crane my neck!

    I have an adjustable desk that I can raise and lower at will, and the monitor goes with it, so ESA- mounting is not necessary. Although I might consider it for my current monitor as both won't fit together on my desk.

    Color and contrast are paramount. My hobby is photography and I do all my editing on my #2 monitor; it's the reason I've decided to upgrade!

    I rarely print my work, mostly it goes to web and email.

    My current monitor is an Asus MX279 LCD, and I'm happy with it, except for the resolution issue. I haven't given much thought to aspect ration. All I know is that when I put Lr on my Surface I was blown away by the fine detail that I was missing on the Asus monitor!!

    Of course, it will be important to get a monitor that is compatible the the Surface and the Dock hardware. How would I sort out the compatibility issue?
     
  4. surfdock

    surfdock Active Member

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    :Mike,

    SB stands for SurfaceBook.
    When I say get a monitor to match, it is matching the dpi, not the resolution so you don't have to tweak things. Basically you want the effective pixel size on one monitor to match the pixel size on the other monitor. The number of pixels matters far less.

    If I'm picturing your workstation correctly, you have the SB in front-of and below the main monitor and are using the SB built-in keyboard/trackpad. I think you can get your existing monitor to work better with a few simple tweaks:

    If none of this works, I recommend putting the SB and external monitor side-by side and using an external keyboard/mouse. This will be a much more ergonomic setup where you don't have the constantly glance down at the SB screen. If you choose this approach, you can get a keyboard/mouse combo for $50 and use the rest of your budget for a monitor. If you like the default 250% scaling on the SurfaceBook at a comfortable desktop viewing distance, then you'll want a monitor with ~106.8dpi to match. here are some sizes that are close to that target dpi:
    • 24" 1920x1200 (94.3dpi @ 100% scaling)
    • 25" 2560x1080 (111.1dpi @100% scaling)
    • 27" 2560x1440 (108.8dpi @ 100% scaling)
    • 30" 2560x1600 (100.6dpi @100% scaling)
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2016
  5. mikecox

    mikecox New Member

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    That a lot to digest but I am very grateful to you for putting it on the table, with this information, and a little effort, I may be able to avoid spending money on a new monitor. I may ever learn something in the process.

    But, in the end will I have the fine, 3000 x 2000 resolution, detail, in pixels, that the SB screen has? I'm guessing I'll get the answer to that question when I do the reading and I understand the difference between resolution and ppi; sort of, and that it's the latter I should be concerned with. Bottom line, I want detail, I want to be able to fine-tune the images I edit in Adobe's editing software. Am I going to get it using the options described in the links you posted here?

    I hope you hade a great Holiday and that you have great and Happy New Year!
     
  6. surfdock

    surfdock Active Member

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    Mike I think with the options I listed you'll certainly have a better user experience than what you have now.

    If there is a Best Buy or similar retailer near you, you could always bring your laptop along and ask the sales rep to plug into various monitors to see how it works "out of the box" The tweaks may still be necessary on those monitors too BTW.
     
  7. mikecox

    mikecox New Member

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    Thanks for follow up. Appreciate all your help
     

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