What’s My Screen Size?

by Maurie Hill on April 28, 2011

Picture of a bunch of differently sized monitorsOne of the questions I’ve often struggled to answer while handling tech support calls is “What size monitor works the best with ZoomText?”  The answer is unfortunately not that simple.

The truth is that ZoomText doesn’t really care – it magnifies whatever is on the screen.

Most ZoomText users want a larger monitor so they don’t have to scroll around as much in the magnified view.  But let’s talk about that before you decide that bigger is better.  To compare apples with apples, picture two monitors set to the same screen resolution side-by-side – one is a 17-inch screen and one is 21-inch screen.  You have solitaire on the screen without ZoomText running.  Are you seeing more on the 21-inch screen than on the 17-inch screen?  No, you’re seeing the exact same thing.  But of course everything will be bigger on the larger screen so you may be able to sit back more.  Now picture ZoomText magnifying the screen at 2X on both monitors.  On each screen, you are seeing one-quarter of the screen at a time.  Again, you will have the exact same view on both screens, but things such as the cards will be larger on the larger screen.

Aha!  You think, now I can reduce the magnification level on the larger screen so I don’t have to scroll around as much.  Well, maybe.  If you are a 5X user, the difference in screen size may or may not be great enough to allow you to drop down to 4X.  But for a 2X user, you’ll likely be able to go down to 1.75 or 1.5X.

But what if your new larger screen works best at higher resolution than your old screen?  Higher resolution means smaller text, so you might not be able to reduce screen magnification as much as you anticipated.  But if you can sit back a little more and reduce the magnification a bit, this is an improvement in the right direction.  Now let’s consider ergonomics.  Sitting back is good but are you someone who will need to sit very close to the screen no matter what size?  Sitting close to a large screen makes it more likely that you’ll need to move your head up, down, left and right to see each part of the screen.  Trust me, your neck will complain about this, so you might not want to go overboard on screen size.

Your particular vision impairment will also play a role in selecting screen size.  For me, I have poor central vision, so I’ve chosen a 22-inch wide-screen LCD monitor and love it.  I sit about one foot away and don’t have to move my head around in order to read text on the screen, and I can adjust the height of the monitor for more comfortable viewing.  I’ve also had customers purchase much larger screens and be extremely happy with their decision.  Perhaps I don’t know what I’m missing.  One thing is for sure – replace that old 17-inch CRT with a space-saving, lighter LCD and you’ll be much happier!

  • K8hil

    I too have poor central vision and have for over 24 yrs. This last yr I had to have low back fusion surgery and I do believe it is partly due to 24 yrs of leaning forward trying to read things. Since my surgery I have gotten a 24 inch LCD screen….wow what a difference…it’s so much clearer. But I think the best thing I have gotten to use with my screen and using Zoomtext is the monitor arm. This thing is great, it screws into the back of your monitor and clamps down onto the desk or table. Now I can move my screen forward or back, up or down depending on my eyestrain and lighting. I have to say, using this with Zoomtext has now allowed me to do my work while sitting back in my chair, neck, back and eye strain so much less than before.

    Kate/ Edmonds WA

  • Tom Coburn

    the only issue I have related to this, is desktop monitors vs laptop monitors. I’m extremely visually impaired, and I prefer my 23 inch LCD display, over my laptop’s 15.6 inch anyday, but its not just the screen size thats an issue. I’ve tested a 17 inch desktop LCD against a laptop 17 inch LCD, and I still have the laptop’s LCD at a higher magnification level then the desktop’s LCD. I’m not real sure what the reason for this is, but I think its due to backlighting. Back when I had 20/200, I didn’t need zoomtext at all on the old CRT monitors if the screen resolution was on 800×600 or 1024×768, back then you could just set your screen resolution to whatever you wanted, but NOW with LCD monitors, you loose quality if you set your display lower then your monitors native resolution, which for mine is something really high like 1680×1240 or something really high like that. so naturally I had to start using zoomtext in the 4x-8x range, when with the old CRT’s I didn’t have to use zt at all, so my point is, it isn’t just the screen size thats an issue. it also depends if we’re talking about a laptop, desktop, LCD, or CRT monitor. CRT’s are the easiest to read, while laptop displays are the most difficult.

  • Tom Coburn

    another comment I have, I believe aisquared started supporting screen magnifications from 16x to 36x because of the ever increasing screen resolutions. This is why bigger is not always better, because the bigger your display is, the higher native resolution its going to be… meaning you’ll have to turn the zoom UP higher.. I’ve been a firm believer that if you need more then 16x magnification you should be using speech navigation and forget about trying to read the screen with your eyes. but its nice that they did support up to 36x for really large displays that have such high native resolutions. really more then about 10x you should be using speech navigation because you’d be more productive on the computer that way, otherwise higher then about 10x or so your looking at the curviture of the letters and thats not really productive, which is why I’ve always been a firm believer in using speech navigation programs like window eyes or Jaws when your vision level is that severe. but too many people hold on to zt as long as possible even when they need that much magnification and thats just not productive

  • Rpreston3

    LCD and CRT monitors are totally different!!! Because of CRT are 4:3 and Widescreen LCD are 16:9!!! I hate to tell you, that I did test almost all different monitors! I tried 17 inch CRT and 17 inch LCD monitor and I noticed the size are same, but, veiw are different! I caught what I notice. I bought my own new widescreen LCD 23 inch with my old DELL tower. I have no problem with new monitor. still use 2X or 2.5X. because of images! No matters to me. Also, I own my new 15.6 inch DELL laptop, I don’t use ZT on my laptop, Window 7 already mangifier software in there. Window 7 are better much than Window Visita and Window XP. I really dont like the mangifier from Window XP. I added ZT on Window XP only.

  • Ronald Lynn Preston

    Oooops! Window 7 HAVE already mangifier software in there. Sorry! I forget to add word “HAVE”. Sorry

  • Ronald Lynn Preston

    Oooops! Window 7 HAVE already mangifier software in there. Sorry! I forget to add word “HAVE”. Sorry!

  • Elaine Murray

    Ireally appreciate the hands on research done by M Hill. Zoom Text is a modern miracle and I tell everyone about its many saving graces. oday I met an intelligent woman who had given up her computer after her vision became impaired. She had not heard about Zoom Text so I hope she will visit me to see me in 5x action. elaine.murray@shaw.ca

  • Dale Thomas

    Could you comment on the picture quality with a laptop versus a desktop monitor?

    Dale Thomas

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  • Amjed

    I purchased a samsung 23″ HD LED (1920×1080)monitor 2 days back. Actually i was planning to buy a 21.5″ but i bought the 23″.It appeared not so big seeing at the shop. It works fine and great to watch HD movies on it.(eventhough my old p4 dualcore is messing up). But when it comes to browsing the monitor is causing much strain on ma eyes. So i personally suggest that 21.5″ is the best for common usage (browsing and enjoying movies), since 1920×1080 resolution is available only from 21.5 inches.

  • Ronald Lynn Preston

    HEY!!! I just took my old Dell tower and my LCD 22″ Monitor down, Because,I just noticed my old Dell Tower computer acting up as haywire (weird) few time. I took my secondry computer (eMachines) small form tower, AND I use my 32″ HDTV (has PC connection for display) Ok, That one computer has dual core, 2.8GHz and 2GB RAM, and  500GB HDD. I just test my second computer for sure!! I was shocked what I see the HDTV screen give me EXTRA large enough!!! Plus, I installed my USB Zoomtext (Flash Drive) there!! I use 1.75x better!!!! Whoa! Damn! yayayayaya!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now, I can use my my primary computer (NEW) for GOOD, once!!! the screen resolution is 1366 x 768 @ 60HZ!! YOU will blow up! I am serious!!! OH, SWEET Damn! LOL!!

  • Karen

    Can anyone comment on LED monitors? My husband is urging me to get one but I am sensitive to light glare and LED screen seems so bright. Any suggestions on how to compensate? Or do most of you find the LCD screen to be easier on light sensitive eyes? Also does anyone have any experience with the new Touch screens? Feedback?

  • http://www.aisquared.com Becca White

    Hi Karen,

    Since this post is several years old, you might not get replies about LED monitors. I would contact our support team to see if anyone has any suggestions (though it’s a very personal decision so they might not be able to help). They can be reached at 802-362-3612 option #3 or support@aisquared.com. You can also try posing the question on Twitter or Facebook, you might have more responses there. Our Twitter page is http://www.twitter.com/aisquared and our facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/zoomtext.


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