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2015 Laptop Screens Buying Guide

Valuable tips to help you purchase the perfect laptop screens.

  • Desktop Replacement: 17" at any resolution
  • Midsize: 15.4" at 1680x1050 or 1440x900
  • Thin & Light: 14.1" or smaller at 1280x800
  • Ultra Portable: 13.3" or smaller at 1280x800
  • Desktop Replacement: 15.4" at 1280x800
  • Midsize: 14.1" at 1280x800
  • Thin & Light: 14.1" at 1280x800
  • Ultra Portable: 13.3" at 1280x800

laptop screen picturesThe Scoop On Laptop Displays

When shopping for a new laptop computer, selecting the best laptop screen for your needs is going to require you to decide on a few key features including screen size, widescreen vs standard, pixel resolution, and glossy vs anti-glare.

Thankfully, picking the right laptop screen is a pretty straight forward process. We are going to show you via this brief guide just how easy it is to find the perfect laptop screens.

Laptop Screen Size Overview

Selecting a laptop screens size should always be your starting point primarily because the physical body of the laptop increases along with screen size.

This means weight will typically increase too, and being that weight is often a key factor for making or breaking a great laptop purchase, this is yet another reason why it is advisable to hone in on screen size first.

For example, the increased size and weight of your typical 17 or 20-inch laptop isn't going to be ideal for most travelers or for those who will be consistently lugging their laptops around town. 

Students who will be running around campus will also want to take note for a large laptop is less than ideal for cramming in their bag along with books, etc., and backaches aren't exactly fun either!

In today's mobile world some common screen sizes include 10.1, 12.1, 13.3, 14.1, 15.4, and 17-inches. 

In fact, there are even 20-inch laptops on the market too. So as you see, there are choices to be made.

Did you notice the additional number after the period for the majority of the laptop screens listed above? 

This is in fact because we've primarily included widescreen laptop screens in the list.

Why you might ask? Well, today's industry trend is a wide aspect ratio screen so we specifically focused on widescreen displays instead of older 4:3 aspect ratio laptop screens.

Now if you don't know the difference just yet, keep reading for we will cover widescreen and standard aspect ratio laptop screens in the next section.

But before we move forward to aspect ratios, we highly recommend you check out our Laptop Comparison page if you haven't already done so because we overview the different laptop types such as ultra-portable, thin & light, midsize, and desktop replacement. 

Because each of these laptop types includes different screen size options we feel this Laptop Comparisons guide is a perfect complement to this page.

Widescreen vs. Standard Aspect Ratio

We've already briefly noted that wide aspect ratio laptop screens dominate the laptop computer market, but you may still encounter standard 4:3 aspect ratio screens when shopping for a laptop so we do feel it is necessary to elaborate just a bit more.

So what's this 4:3 aspect ratio thing mean anyways? To make things simple, a 4:3 aspect ratio screen is pretty much one that is shaped like a square. 

In comparison, a widescreen display will typically have a 16:9 or 16:10 aspect ratio, and in turn the screen is more of a rectangle shape. Pretty straight forward!

The industry has all but pushed 4:3 screens into history but we do see some floating around out there, so take note. We typically advise against purchasing a 4:3 aspect ratio screen because widescreen displays in our opinion are often the better option for a number of reasons. 

Movies, games, and day to day multitasking in our opinion are much improved on a widescreen display. Remember the days of VHS? The world was 4:3 then but in our digital HD world today, widescreen is king.

On the other hand, if you are old school and prefer the traditional square screen, or you primarily use your laptop for text based applications, a 4:3 aspect ratio display may actually be a better option. That's if you can find one of course!

Screen Resolution

In a nutshell, a laptop screens resolution is the amount of physical pixels (tiny dots that make up the image) on the actual screen. 

Screen resolution is listed by horizontal pixels first and vertical pixels second. 

For example, a common screen size today is 1680 x 1050 pixels. When you multiply these values together you get the actual pixel count on the screen. 

So using this example above we have  1,764,000 pixels total.  These values multiplied together can also simply be called the screens megapixel count. Using this example again we can say it is a 1.76 megapixel screen.

Ok, so how does all this pixel talk benefit you?  For the most part more pixels is technically always better. You will have a sharper overall image, and also at the same time you will in fact have more desktop space to layout multiple applications on screen. High-definition movies and 3D games will also visually benefit from an increased pixel count.

Of course there are pros and cons to everything and one common drawback to more pixels is that on screen elements will be smaller. Because of this text for example will be much smaller and harder to read for some depending on the combination of the laptop screens size and resolution. This can lead to eyestrain and headaches, so be aware. If you can try before you buy, we highly recommend you do. 

You can always up what's called a DPI setting on your computer to increase the size of on screen elements, but increasing the DPI will have mixed results with many of you, and this mixed result will often be determined by the physical screen size. As time moves forward font size and screen resolution won't matter, but we aren't quite there yet so we advise you choose your resolution wisely.

So to elaborate further, a 1920 x 1200 HD class resolution on a 15.4 screen will make on screen elements tiny compared to the same resolution on a 17 or 20-inch display. Yes you can increase the DPI setting in the operating system as we just mentioned, but if you have the option of going for a 15.4 inch screen with 1680 x 1050 pixels this will be a better decision in our opinion then mucking around with the DPI setting. The choice of course is ultimately up to you, but do keep yourself alert to the various resolution options.  

Glossy vs. Anti-Glare

One more thing to consider in laptop screens is whether or not to go for a glossy or anti-glare display. Most laptop manufacturers have jumped on the glossy bandwagon so you won't always have the choice, but as of this writing we do still see the option from time to time, especially with business laptops. So we do recommend you pay attention to available options.

So what's the difference between a glossy display and an anti-glare? Glossy displays for the most part do not have an anti-glare coating so they are in fact brighter, and more vivid. Anti-glare screens on the other hand have anti-glare properties to restrict glare from external light sources.

Manufacturers of LCD's decided to strip the anti-glare from displays to increase overall brightness and color vividness. We are personally not big fans of glossy displays and aren't thrilled with the LCD manufacturer's decision, but it looks like we will all have to live with it for it looks to be the ongoing trend these days, at least with consumer laptops.

While this vividness is great for photos and movies, if you are outdoors or where there is a lot of glare a glossy screen is in our opinion frustrating because things are harder to see for the screen is like a mirror. But when inside your home watching a movie or viewing family photos, we will have to admit however that a glossy does often look pretty sweet.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to laptop screens we are all very picky here at Laptop-Computer-Comparison.com for various reasons. While we won't go into details, just remember the screen is what you will be looking at day after day and so it only makes perfect sense to buy a laptop with a screen that you are very comfortable using, right? Picking the wrong screen in our opinion can very well make or break a great laptop purchase.

On a final note always remember to look very closely at your screen options when shopping for a new laptop. In fact if you will be purchasing a laptop online we recommend you take a drive to your local retailer such as Fryes or Best Buy to get some real firsthand experience with the different screen sizes and resolutions. This little bit of preparation may be worth your time.

Online Shopping Specials

Laptops, Netbooks, Gaming Notebooks, Colored Laptops, Laptop Computer Accessories  & More.

Online Vendor Shopping Category Vendor Rating
Amazon.com Laptops, Netbooks, Tablets  A+
Amazon.com Computer Monitors A+
Amazon.com Computer Accessories  A+

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