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Hardware Thread, Mixing widescreen and 4:3 displays in Technical; Hi all, Currently at one of the schools I work at we are upgrading our classroom PC's and monitors and ...
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    Mixing widescreen and 4:3 displays

    Hi all,

    Currently at one of the schools I work at we are upgrading our classroom PC's and monitors and I've got a question about aspect ratios.

    Currently our PC's are connected to a Lindys VGA splitter, with a projector onto a smartboard as one display and a standard monitor the other.

    I'd like to get widescreen monitors for the new PC's but when I tested the setup with a widescreen it stretched the monitor image. The res needs to be a 4:3 standard for the smartboard so my question is this: Is there a piece of software out there that will put a 4:3 res on a widescreen display with Horizontal black bars either side?

    The intel graphics suite with the desktops does have a maintain aspect ratio setting but this only appears to be for the widescreen, IE horizontal bars??

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    flyinghaggis's Avatar
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    Is there an option on the monitor to say do not stretch to fit screen? Realistically your best bet is to buy 4:3 monitors IMO as any other option will end up looking pretty bad. Either that or possibly look into getting dual output graphics cards that can display different resoutions on each display?

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    Alis_Klar's Avatar
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    Sorry to resurrect this post but AFAIK you cannot mix monitor resolutions in "mirror" mode. In extend desktop mode windows xp will not let you change the "primary default" monitor (the one which contains the start menu) and with Windows Vista you have to choose a monitor to be default.

    This is ok for some users who understand that to display anything on the second monitor you have to drag windows out to it. You cannon AFAIK display the start menu and taskbar on two monitors at different resolutions. One must always display the wallpaper until a windows is dragged over to it.

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    We have some LG monitors that can be switched to 4:3 mode with a button on the front. I'm afraid I'm not sure what model they are.

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    sonofsanta's Avatar
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    We've just installed some new 22" 1920x1080 monitors (with accompanying new PCs) in a few rooms over the holidays, and those rooms that had a projector, we've fitted the PC with a low profile graphics card (usually the ATi 4350 - cheap and works brilliantly). We then use the DVI port to connect the 22" as a secondary, and use an old 17" monitor as primary with the display cloned through a 2-port VGA splitter to the projector.

    This way, anyone who doesn't know what they're really doing will just use the square monitor which copies to the projector as normal, and anyone curious enough to drag a window over to the edge will notice that they have 22" of private screen estate to use as well. This way they can still use a screen in the same way as the rest of the class (bit rubbish if the kids have HD monitors and the staff are stuck at 1024x768 for their Photoshop) and still be able to use the projector.

    For those staff who can work a two monitor set up, it's working even better for them as they can now run a PowerPoint on the main (17") whilst looking at emails, doing registers etc. on the 22". Plus it looks pretty damn cool ;D

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    Alis_Klar's Avatar
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    Wow! How many classrooms have you deployed 2 monitors to? Did you have any space constraint issues?
    Generally we find most of our teacher would be confused by that setup but it is indeed nice for the less technophobic to be able to use the extra monitor.

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    sonofsanta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alis_Klar View Post
    Wow! How many classrooms have you deployed 2 monitors to? Did you have any space constraint issues?
    Generally we find most of our teacher would be confused by that setup but it is indeed nice for the less technophobic to be able to use the extra monitor.
    Probably gone to 5 classrooms. There were issues with the i3 graphics and monitor inputs but these were solved with the Radeon 4350s that cost about £20 each, and the ATi system tray app is better than Windows XP for managing the resolutions anyway, so I consider it money well spent.

    Space wise has not been too bad, particularly as most of the rooms getting the new PCs have had CRTs in the past so space is generally easier to come by in them than it was 2 months ago. As we're putting the SFF PCs flat against the wall and standing the monitors in front of the machine, it doesn't take up a massive amount of room to be honest, especially as the teacher normally has their own desk anyway with lots of room on it (once we move the piles of paperwork out of the way, anyway!)

    A few teachers have been a bit stymied by the setup initially, mostly because I didn't get a chance to tell them it was happening so they were a little surprised. So far though they've all managed to work it out enough to use it, and then it's only taken 60 seconds to explain the new cool stuff they can do as well now. Even those who are not specifically tech & IT teachers are already thinking up new ways to make use of the private screen, and if (heaven forbid) I have a couple of hundred quid left in my budget come March, I'm very tempted to buy some more GFX cards and setup the rest of the rooms in this way - after all, the only technical skill you really need is "dragging a window sideways".

    Still gonna draw up a quick A4 sheet explaining it all to stick above the PCs anyway. You can never explain something too much to staff!

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