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4:36pm on Wednesday, 10th October, 2007:

Analogue and Digital


I bought a new monitor today! Much as I love my old 19-inch analogue one, it was showing its age. It had a blue tinge on the screen just about where I look when I'm typing things, which is annoying, and the contrast was such that anything dark looked black.

The replacement I bought was a Samsung SyncMaster 931CW, mainly on the grounds that it was the fastest thing they had available in PC World. It's only 19 inches with a native resolution is 1440x900 pixels, but its response time is 2ms which I rather like. It also has a DVI socket, which means I can finally make full use of my GeForce 9800 GT graphics card.


To illustrate the problem I had, here's a photograph of the screen showing an 800x600 resolution window, with the resizing switched off:

You'll note that although 800x600 is a 4:3 aspect ratio, the screen neatly matches the proportions of the monitor frame. That's because somewhere along the line it's been stretched to fit. The problem is, when I set the resolution to the native size, that also got stretched to fit. Except, because it fit anyway, it got stretched beyond a fit. If I wanted to see what was on the right of the screen, I had to move my mouse to the screen edge to cause it to show, like I would in a game when I wanted to move to a different area of the map.

I downloaded the latest drivers for the monitor and the graphics card, and it made no difference. Either the graphics card thought the image it was displaying was 4:3 and stretched it for the monitor, or the monitor thought it was being supplied 4:3 and stretched it to fit. I suspect the former, because otherwise moving the cursor to the edge wouldn't work.

Nothing I did could persuade my 9800 GT to send what it should send to the monitor. Eventually, I unplugged the digital connector and put in my old VGA cable (with a DVI adaptor). Happily, it worked: I now have a very nice monitor with a very nice display running in 1440x900 resolution. However, none of the fancy software that came with it to get the colour balance perfect works, and none of Nvidia's screen-juggling software works either.

How come two digital systems can only communicate if they talk analogue?

Grrr, gnash, gnash...

Referenced by New Monitor.

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Copyright © 2007 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).