updated 09:45 am EDT, Tue October 7, 2008
HP and shift to 13in 16-9
A design decision from HP could lead much of the notebook business to making small 16:9 aspect ratio displays, according to alleged tips from manufacturers. The American PC builder is purportedly set to focus much of its energy on portables with 13- to 13.9-inch LCDs in the significantly wider proportions starting from the fall, pulling much of the industry with it by making the extra-wide displays common. The shift is said to be prompted by the lower price of making 13-inch screens versus 14-inch equivalents with the same ratio.
The news if accurate would reveal plans by HP to release yet more 13-inch notebooks in the fall. Although it has just released the dv3500t as its first 13-inch home user's notebook in recent memory, the notebook uses a 13.3-inch, 16:10 ratio screen which has been common in the industry but often more expensive to build than a 14.1-inch panel at the same resolution.
A 14-inch, 16:9 notebook is also expected from HP but allegedly won't show until early 2009 and would face off against at least one competing model from Acer.
Why HP might shift its attention to the small panels is unclear, though the company is known to be following a broader move towards 16:9 notebooks as a whole. It started with its HDX16 and HDX18 models and explained the systems as better for viewing widescreen video by letting the picture fill more of the screen. They also permit more side-by-side documents and are friendlier to airplane cabins, where the depth of a notebook is more important than width.
Which other companies will join the shift are also unclear, though Apple is widely believed to be readying a major design change for the 13-inch MacBook while Dell has yet to replace the popular XPS M1330 with an equivalent Studio model.
Sony earlier this year may have provided evidence of the direction for HP and other companies by launching the VAIO Z, which has a 13.1-inch, 1366x768 LCD that matches the same ratio as many 720p-capable HDTVs.