How is programming on a 15.6 inch laptop using this resolution? Unfortunately, I'm finding that all the laptops I'm considering use this low vertical resolution and I'm worried it'll affect my development. Now, it won't be my main dev box, but I'll be using it for any side-projects I'll be working on. Anyone have experience with this relatively low vertical resolution for development (esp on Visual Studio)?


As others have pointed out, using VS 2008 at that resolution (my craptop has 1280x800) is possible, but will be unpleasant.

How often will you be using just the laptop? It's OK if you have an external monitor, but if it's going to be your only display you should decide how much it's worth to get a higher resolution.

Time yourself, and see how often you need to switch contexts - switch windows, scroll a window, minimize or maximize, etc. Figure that it's going to cost 10 to 15 seconds each time you have to grab the mouse and do something. Figure out home many of these you could avoid with a larger display, and multiply the # of occurrences by the "penalty". Use this to calculate the ROI of a larger monitor.

  • Thanks to all the responses. I took a good look at how I'll be using the laptop and although I'll have VS and other dev tools installed on it, I won't be using it often for development. That's what my work computer is for. Secondly, when I do use it, I have a decent size external monitor I can connect it to.
    – Gabe
    Jun 30 '10 at 0:49

I can't understand how people can work with such small vertical resolutions. Personally I have a 1920x1200 monitor sideways for editing. What's more I use an outlining/folding editor. Both these things help you see lots of code all at once. There is no way I could do any serious programming with 768 lines vertically, it would drive me crazy. All those now letterbox shaped screens on laptops appear to be designed for watching movies - they are rubbish for programming.

If I'm ever forced to use a letterbox shaped screen I always move the taskbar into a vertical position, that will give you a bit more space.


I think it depends very much on what you are used to. You can indeed program on pretty much anything, but once you get used to a big screen it becomes really painful to go back.

The first criterion I look for in a programming laptop is vertical resolution - I would far rather get a second-hand Core 2 Duo Thinkpad with 1650x1080 than a new Core i machine with only 768.

On the plus side, it does help to keep your methods small :)


I use this resolution, and it's not too bothersome. It's a bit annoying and there are times when things scroll off-screen, but you can combat this with things like auto-hiding the task panes, using full screen (I don't, but it's an idea), or in Tools > Options > Environment > Fonts & Colors, you can change it to a smaller text size.

There's really quite a bit you can do to make the best of your situation. I've been using this resolution for a good year now and have had no problems, just minor annoyances before customizing things.

  • 2
    Definitely annoying. Widescreens might be good for movies, but they're bad for pretty much everything else, ESPECIALLY software development. :-( Jun 28 '10 at 14:30

My laptop has that resolution, and it works fine for writing code. I use Visual Studio, Dreamweaver, Word, Textpad, and they work fine. It helps if you are able to hide toolbars that you don't need so as to regain some vertical space.

Working in graphics software is a different matter. The small screen gets annoying in Photoshop and Fireworks, simply because there's more visible at the same time.


I can't vouch for Visual Studio, but in NetBeans at 1024x768, everything is fine. I don't find myself constrained or having to move a bunch of columns and rows to see the editing area.

You do know that your native resolution is not your maximum possible resolution, right? If I wanted I can go up to 1600x1200 on an ancient CRT monitor and have it still display.

  • 2
    A lot of video cards on 15.6" laptops (for example, my nvidia 130M and my girlfriend's ATI HD 4200) max out at 1366x768. My card even has a "force custom resolution" option, but it won't let me put anything above 1366x768. It's a shame, really.
    – Corey
    Jun 28 '10 at 3:13
  • both VS and NB work perfectly on my 20 inch (1600x900) display Jun 28 '10 at 3:21
  • @Corey: Can't the OS artistically go past the limit by zooming out the screen but still calling it 1366x768. I've made linux go way higher then I think the video card could support.
    – TheLQ
    Jun 28 '10 at 3:28
  • 5
    CRT screens do not have a native resolution, because they use a scanning beam of electrons on phosphor. Faster scanning = more resolution. LCD screens have an actual fixed native resolution - there are 1366x768 physical pixels in your screen. That's why you can't go any higher than native (without losing pixels). en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_resolution
    – Blorgbeard
    Jun 28 '10 at 10:32

Unfortunately, I'm finding that all the laptops I'm considering use this low vertical resolution and I'm worried it'll affect my development. Anyone have experience with this relatively low vertical resolution for development (esp on Visual Studio)?

That resolution is not low, I programmed on a 17'' 1400x900 just fine, so you should even have a higher resolution/screen size ratio. I wouldn't worry about it too much, the screen size could more likely be a problem than the resolution... A handy trick: You can hold CTRL and scroll your mouse wheel to zoom!

  • 1
    1400x900 is quite a bit more than 1366x768 :)
    – warren
    Apr 5 '11 at 17:56
  • Let's just say it's close... :( Apr 5 '11 at 18:00
  • it is close ... but ~15% is a lot when talking vertical lines :)
    – warren
    Apr 5 '11 at 18:06
  • Still, resolution/screen size ratio is higher and it's still a reasonable size to program at. Having 15% lines less to program with isn't really a pain, a lot of students at my university are doing just that. And if he is afraid of running in not enough lines he should consider going for a bigger screen... Apr 5 '11 at 18:23
  • right - your machine has the higher ratio (14:9 > 13.66:7.68)
    – warren
    Apr 5 '11 at 18:25

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