Is bigger better?

Is bigger better?

As the traditional 4:3 monitor slowly fades into the background, ever larger widescreen monitors are lighting up on desks around the country. But is bigger really all that much better?

Size matters. Everybody wants it bigger and better and if you don't have what it takes then you're just not in the game. Technique is important, of course, but when it's bigger you can do a lot more. But not too big, because then it just becomes, well, unsightly. At least that's the innuendo-laden feeling one gets from the monitors space, which is happily cuddling up to more inches.

In fact, in the past couple of years the market has ditched a long-standing love affair with the standard 4:3 ratio for a new partner: Widescreens over 19-inch.

"When you compare 2007 versus 2006 numbers for monitor screens up to 19-inch, you fi nd the market contracting by 14 per cent, while screen sizes from 20- to 22-inch have presented an astonishing increase of 245 per cent," IDC associate analyst, Neville Chan, said.

"The market for screen size 24-inch or more grew more than 100 per cent. Overall, widescreen displays have grown 217 per cent over the same period, especially the 22-inch widescreen."

With such impressive figures it is no wonder the relationship is blooming and many vendors maintain this is far from a meaningless fling.

"Bigger can be better; it really depends on the application but we are definitely seeing tremendous growth in larger screen sizes," Samsung IT display solutions product manager, Simon King, said.

For Samsung, vertical markets that require high resolution monitors - like medical, engineering, architecture and finance - are driving much of the progress in this new space. Other vendors also note growth in the consumer and corporate sectors.

"I think monitors are starting to shift towards widescreen these days," NEC national channel manager, Daniel Hancox, said. "I think you'll see the 17-inch start to disappear and screens become larger and wider. That seems to be the trend."

Hancox doesn't believe the conventional 4:3 will phase out quickly; it will survive another couple of years, which is good news for those with legacy applications formatted for the ratio. However, ViewSonic country manager, Brendan Frawley, expects the market's feelings for larger monitors to intensify in the long run.

"I think you are seeing the 17-inch shift to the 19-inch and that shift to the 22-inch," he said. "The two biggest markets we have are the 19 and 22. Now we are seeing the greater-than-22-inch with the 24- and 26-inch, and even our 28-inch.

"There is a big take-up in those and I'm putting that down to entertainment and having a second TV in the house; a multifunction monitor for watching entertainment and doing a bit online."

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