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  1. waldo15's Avatar
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       #1  
    So I'm at the airport, waiting to fly back from my vacation break. There I was playing with my AT&T Tilt while my wife was toying with her Centro. I have recently left the Treo line after a good run with the 600 and a not so stellar scuffle with the 700p. Anyhow, browsing the web in my new 320x240 screen it just hit me right there: the content of the web is 4:3 and as of late, 16:9. How do future Treos fare against this? Why don't they change their square screen already?

    Now, this is not a matter of browser vs. browser (Pocket IE sucks, no question about it). It is a mater of native resolutions. All of the video content you can find online is always 4:3, recently the HD videos are of course shifting the trend to 16:9. Youtube, Hulu, Standard Def TV, High def TV, you name it. This also applies to images as well. And the photographs people post online (Flickr) follow the trend since, well, that has been the standard for ages.

    So having a device with a rectangular screen will let you enjoy better streaming videos (Sling'ing anyone?) or showcase you last trip photos better. The square screen will have to put bars on top and bottom, not show the entire length of the photo or even perhaps distort the image? Certainly both screens will compromise on the factor of size, but who will be "loosing" more information in the process?

    Taking a look at the smartphone arena it is only the Treos and Centro who still use a square screen (only one exemption being the 500v), and one does not realize what you loose or compromise until you have seen the same webpages and the same videos/pictures on a small 4:3 screen. Seeing a video play full screen without bars feels more compelling than looking at it with black bars.

    Anyhow, this is just a random thought. I am sure many will agree and many more will disagree with the premise, but just wanted to get a topic going on as the news are slow in the word of Treo as of recently. What do you guys think: does the square screen still has a chance or has its time passed definitely?
    Ode to the Treo Pro: you had to look so good, you had to be HTC in disguise...
  2. #2  
    It's all trade-offs. If you want a 320x230 screen, unless the device is very long, you have to give up the a front qwerty hard kb. Then you get the vanilla 6700/6800/tilt system.

    You can make it landscape, which is fine for video but webpages feel odd (at least to me) and same with emails.

    Treos are primarily phone/email/pim devices, not media-centric. So while I enjoy watching Slingbox on the occasion, I really don't use the device for video/youtube/movies, etc, so it's not really a concern for myself. If video was a priority, something like the Touch Diamond or Pro would be better.

    Presumably with "Nova" Palm said they will have more device designs besides the Treo, so then people can have more choice. But right now, for WM there are tons of choices (though they all play off the same theme) and same with BB.

    iPhone is stuck with the same old tired 2007 design. No choice there. ;-)

    WMExperts: News, Reviews & Podcasts + Twitter
  3. #3  
    Quote Originally Posted by Malatesta View Post
    Treos are primarily phone/email/pim devices, not media-centric.
    another reason why you don't have to carry around unnecessary bulk and weight.

    another testament as to why blackberry and iPhone devices do so well.

    enjoy yours
    Blackberry Pearl (AT&T), Apple 3G iPhone,
    owned and used: Treo 750 (WM5, Cingular)
    T680 unlocked (T-Mo), T700wx, T700w, T650, T600
    ppc6600, i730, htc mogul, BB Bold, Curve
  4. waldo15's Avatar
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       #4  
    Quote Originally Posted by Malatesta View Post
    It's all trade-offs. If you want a 320x230 screen, unless the device is very long, you have to give up the a front qwerty hard kb. Then you get the vanilla 6700/6800/tilt system.

    You can make it landscape, which is fine for video but webpages feel odd (at least to me) and same with emails.

    Treos are primarily phone/email/pim devices, not media-centric. So while I enjoy watching Slingbox on the occasion, I really don't use the device for video/youtube/movies, etc, so it's not really a concern for myself. If video was a priority, something like the Touch Diamond or Pro would be better.

    Presumably with "Nova" Palm said they will have more device designs besides the Treo, so then people can have more choice. But right now, for WM there are tons of choices (though they all play off the same theme) and same with BB.

    iPhone is stuck with the same old tired 2007 design. No choice there. ;-)
    But here's the thing. The Blackberry, at least in the recent flavors of it (and if memory serves me well, since it first came out) has a 4:3 screen, and it was never meant to be a media-rich device. Why would that be? Maybe at the beginning was because those were the cheapest screens around, but as of late it is more than obvious that they are staying the course to offer other things. I am truly curious about the 4:3 in text since well, reading is an excercise best done in a portrait mode, not in landscape or square formats.

    I was wondering this when I got my Tilt, I thought perhaps to wait for the 850 to come out. I decided to give it a spin and try the 320x240 experience. I am a heavy data user and media user also, and I just realized how better the experience is with a screen that handles the content natively. This again is a first for me coming from the 160x160 (600) and the 320x320 (700p) screens.

    Perhaps the argument is now how can the Treo compete in the mainstream and technocentric space when all other devices have given in to this trend of media-rich experiences? I am certain that one of the Nova devices has to offer this type of screen form-factor. I cannot imagine Palm not realizing this, as stubborn as they usually are.
    Ode to the Treo Pro: you had to look so good, you had to be HTC in disguise...
  5. #5  
    But, you can fit all of a 320x240 view on 320x320 and then some?
  6. #6  
    Ok here is a quick question for you.... How long before you think there will be an application that will let the new 800w (320x320) emulate the 320x240 screen? You can then play things in their native screen format albiet smaller but it would be an option atleast...

    Thought I saw mention of a utility that will let the treo display things that are made for a 320x240 screen by either crunching the screen or letting the screen move around.. This would be nice for some applications that do depend on the 240x320 screen and end up cutting off important portions off on the bottom of the screen...

    Rodney
  7. #7  
    Quote Originally Posted by waldo15 View Post
    But here's the thing. The Blackberry, at least in the recent flavors of it (and if memory serves me well, since it first came out) has a 4:3 screen, and it was never meant to be a media-rich device. Why would that be? Maybe at the beginning was because those were the cheapest screens around, but as of late it is more than obvious that they are staying the course to offer other things. I am truly curious about the 4:3 in text since well, reading is an excercise best done in a portrait mode, not in landscape or square formats.
    dunno much about BB history, but on my Moto Q which has a landscape screen, I really enjoyed it for watching Slingbox but not so much for webpages and even email (partially due to the huge font for WM standard in Outlook). In fact, going back to my 700wx I felt I "saw more" on that screen than the Moto Q though no doubt at a lower resolution.

    I'm thinking the same will happen with the 800w.

    Actually, to save myself some breath, I wrote awhile back a little article on this very topic. Would be curious if others agree or not :

    What is the Best Screen Type for Smartphones?


    Can the Treo compete? Sure. Because not everyone is that gungho on huge screens and youtube clips. Some just want a phone first with some secondary powerful features. I'm just glad the market is catering to each crowd now.

    WMExperts: News, Reviews & Podcasts + Twitter
  8. #8  
    I see where you are coming from. Interesting theory. In effect you are saying Treo's are a Square screen TV in a Wide screen world.

    Surur
  9. PSB22's Avatar
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    #9  
    Provided the resolution of a square screen is great enough, it can still do widescreen, just with black bars at top and bottom - hey, maybe we could put some buttons there to control the media?! I don't see this as an issue at all.

    There are so many native resolutions out there, it's silly....
    - TVs and monitors are 4:3
    - Photographs (35mm and hence digital cameras) are 3:2 (i.e. 4x6" prints)
    - HD is 16:9

    Depending on what you want to do with a device, no single screen size will be optimal. For the media-centric devices, 16:9 would be good, and for the business-centric devices probably square is best.

    BTW, the web is not rectangular - it all depends on the height of the page. Some full-size pages (like blog posts with responses) are 10:1 vertical:horizontal, and that ain't fitting on any screen!
  10. #10  
    You know, not everyone cares about watching videos, of any dimension, on a tiny 2 inch screen. I use my Treo as a productivity enhancer, not a TV. The square screen suits me fine, and I'd much rather have the Treo's dynamite keyboard than a slider (or a virtual keyboard--yuck) and a rectangular screen.
    Bob Meyer
    I'm out of my mind. But feel free to leave a message.
  11. waldo15's Avatar
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       #11  
    Great inputs from everyone.

    Malatesta's article is definitely covering all the options, and it is a very interesting read. But also I feel surur got it right, the jist of the discussion was the way the Treo line, with its square screen, adjusts to the rectangular nature of the many media sources available online.

    One thing the Treo has going for it is the high pixel density (320x320). This res. will of course contain the 320x240 of other devices, but the problem is that it will do so by adding black bars on the unused areas. You are not quite getting all your money's worth of screen real state oif you are putting black bars everywhere.

    Now many of you mention that the Treo works best for the productivity component rather than the mediateinment component (and I just coined a fancy new term I hope). I have no comment on this since well, it boils down to a personal preference and your own way of doing things. But if we take ourselves out of the picture for a minute, and analyze the market and its trends, it is rather obvious that everyone except Palm has moved to the rectangular world.

    Why could this be? well, the web and its related technologies (PC being the foremost important element) are all built upon the 4:3 standard, with the late shift to 16:9 which is also rectangular. If modern devices are to access the web and its many components, with a minimal amount of modification, they may be better suited for the task if they respect to some extent the original aspect ratios of the content, whether you access said content on a daily basis or very sporadically. We do work and enternain ourselves in the 4:3 (16:9) on our daily online activities, and if smartphones are to be an extension of that experience, perhaps the more natural approach (and the path of least resistance) would be to keep the rectangular screens in.

    I am not here to negate the entire "Treoness" of the Treo. It has been a very popular device and I admit it, I loved my 600 because it worked just right. I'll reserve my comment on the 700p. It is now that I moved from the Treo that I realize what else could make it a better device. So maybe this brings another question to the table: would a 4:3 screen break the Treoness of the Treo? Make it less/more usable? The 500v could very well be a good example of the success/failure of this type of approach for a Treo device.

    Maybe then the partial answer to my question is that the Treo survives in the rectangular web, but the "darwininan" nature of the market may not bode well for the square screen in the upcoming years.
    Ode to the Treo Pro: you had to look so good, you had to be HTC in disguise...
  12. #12  
    Don't really understand this thread. For a given width, (say 320pixels at 150dpi), there is no reason to think that a square screen (320pixel vertical) presents ANY disadvantage over a 240 pixel vertical screen... unless you think it is using up space that should go to a keyboard or make the device shorter.

    And the web is *not* formatted 4:3. In fact the whole point of HTML is to be display format/geometry INDEPENDENT. Properly designed websites should yield decent display for *any* reasonable resolution, regardless of aspect ratio.

    This discussion sounds like the kind you hear at Blockbusters when a customer complains that the WS DVD they rented produces black bars on his TV, thus it must be defective.

    I can't believe people think that 320x320 is worse than 320x240... Just be thankful that everyone is using square pixels (unlike many TV's).... Many devices (iphone, Touch) are "portrait mode" devices... be thankful that 320x320 means that stupid rotating a device is meaningless...

    Here's a more ecological viewpoint: the reason that BIG output devices (theater, TV, PC monitors) are "landscape mode" is because of the human visual system, which has a much greater horizontal field of view than a vertical one (due to are binocular visual system, about a 160deg field of view). And that is why widescreen is even more appropriate for natural viewing than 4:3. However NONE of that applies when you are staring into a tiny little display on a phone that is lucky to span 15 degrees of visual angle -- the notion of widescreen and natural viewing is pointless with such a small screen -- humans are just as happy squinting at a 15x15 degree square screen as a 15x12 degree rectangular screen... except guess what... 320x320 will ALWAYS be able to display more information than 320x240...
    Last edited by neurocutie; 06/17/2008 at 02:11 PM.
  13. #13  
    Its interesting that you should bring up resolution. The Samsung Omnia has the rather odd resolution of 240x400, which is closer to the 16:9 than 320x240 or even 640x480, and its unquestionable that the device is media focused, with 16GB flash and DivX certification. In that case it seems very much they gave up resolution (640x480 would seem to be natural for such a high-end device) for aspect ratio.

    Surur
  14. #14  
    Don't know enough about the Omnia to know whether the media players actually support widescreen formats. Certainly it is very unusual to find ready-encoded movies for small screens (circa 200-300pixels for mobile devices) to be formatted for anything other than 4:3 and certainly not 240x400. And it isn't 16:9 either (are there even readily viewable media content in 16:9 format for small screens ? I haven't seen any...) So in order to take full advantage of the 1:1.67 aspect ratio of the Omnia, one would pretty much have to encode the movies yourself PLUS hope that the internal player would support it.

    Therefore my guess is that the odd screen res probably is just a gimmick and has nothing to do with really being able to use media at that resolution... instead Samsung is just YAIW (Yet Another iPhone Wannabe). The iPhone screen is HVGA (320x480). So Samsung is just following Apple's lead in long and slim (not widescreen for WS media per se).

    Another way of stating your conclusion is that Samsung is trying to copy the iPhone's form and look (aspect ratio) without shelling out the bucks for the same resolution.
  15. #15  
    Quote Originally Posted by waldo15 View Post
    So I'm at the airport, waiting to fly back from my vacation break. There I was playing with my AT&T Tilt while my wife was toying with her Centro. I have recently left the Treo line after a good run with the 600 and a not so stellar scuffle with the 700p. Anyhow, browsing the web in my new 320x240 screen it just hit me right there: the content of the web is 4:3 and as of late, 16:9. How do future Treos fare against this? Why don't they change their square screen already?

    Now, this is not a matter of browser vs. browser (Pocket IE sucks, no question about it). It is a mater of native resolutions. All of the video content you can find online is always 4:3, recently the HD videos are of course shifting the trend to 16:9. Youtube, Hulu, Standard Def TV, High def TV, you name it. This also applies to images as well. And the photographs people post online (Flickr) follow the trend since, well, that has been the standard for ages.

    So having a device with a rectangular screen will let you enjoy better streaming videos (Sling'ing anyone?) or showcase you last trip photos better. The square screen will have to put bars on top and bottom, not show the entire length of the photo or even perhaps distort the image? Certainly both screens will compromise on the factor of size, but who will be "loosing" more information in the process?

    Taking a look at the smartphone arena it is only the Treos and Centro who still use a square screen (only one exemption being the 500v), and one does not realize what you loose or compromise until you have seen the same webpages and the same videos/pictures on a small 4:3 screen. Seeing a video play full screen without bars feels more compelling than looking at it with black bars.

    Anyhow, this is just a random thought. I am sure many will agree and many more will disagree with the premise, but just wanted to get a topic going on as the news are slow in the word of Treo as of recently. What do you guys think: does the square screen still has a chance or has its time passed definitely?
    Are you sure you're not just trying to justify downgrading to a lower resolution device? But seriously, I think that this is a situation where size matters more than aspect ratio. I have used a lot of gadgets of varying sizes and screen types. I can and have watched video on my Treo at 320 x 320. I can and have watched video on my 5.5g iPod at 320 x 240. I don't really see much difference tiny, 2 inch screen and a tiny 2.5 inch screen with black bars on the top and bottom. Ultimately, everything on both screens is roughly the same size. Heck, I've been watching video with black bars on the top and bottom for years on my old TV set. And after buying a widescreen HDTV, I now watch video with black bars on the left and right. So even on a full-sized TV, aspect ratio matters less than overall size.

    This is probably why I prefer my Palm TX with and its 3.7 inch, 480 x 320 screen for watching video on the go. It's also, no doubt why the media-centric iPhone and iPod Touch have big 480 x 320 screens that can switch between portrait and landscape formats. As far as the web is concerned, I've found that while I tend to prefer to read in landscape on my TX, on my Treo 680, I don't miss landscape mode because the screen itself is physically smaller and displays less information regardless of its orientation.
  16. #16  
    Quote Originally Posted by neurocutie View Post
    Another way of stating your conclusion is that Samsung is trying to copy the iPhone's form and look (aspect ratio) without shelling out the bucks for the same resolution.
    WM does not support half VGA. After WQVGA the next resolution with a similar aspect ratio is WVGA.

    Surur
  17. waldo15's Avatar
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       #17  
    Folks, still you are missing the point. The nature of HTML is indeed resolution-agnostic. That is not the case. It is what is floating in the intertubes that is driving the requirements here. The content being generated is not resolution agnostic, it is in fact set on either 4:3 or 16:9: pictures, videos, e-books... the list goes on.

    neurocutie has quite an interesting point, which I'd like to further explore:

    the reason that BIG output devices (theater, TV, PC monitors) are "landscape mode" is because of the human visual system, which has a much greater horizontal field of view than a vertical one (due to are binocular visual system, about a 160deg field of view). And that is why widescreen is even more appropriate for natural viewing than 4:3. However NONE of that applies when you are staring into a tiny little display on a phone that is lucky to span 15 degrees of visual angle -- the notion of widescreen and natural viewing is pointless with such a small screen -- humans are just as happy squinting at a 15x15 degree square screen as a 15x12 degree rectangular screen... except guess what... 320x320 will ALWAYS be able to display more information than 320x240...
    I cannot agree more on the ergonomical advantages of the widescreen/rectangular screens. I am not versed in ergonomics but the statement makes sense. However, why is the same not applicable to 2"-3" screens? After all, we are trying to look at the same content on either big screens and small screens. It is the content that drives the ergonomics at this point. If I had the chance to not loose image information or modify it in the process I'd stick with that.

    320x320 will be able to display more information if the content itself is square or resolution-independent. There's no way around that. But the reality is that if the content was shot or generated in a 4:3 aspect ratio, the 320x320 will have to do either of three things:

    - Display only the 320x240 (closest rectangular res that fits inside the 320 panel) and add black bars wherever necessary
    - Display the content by faking a larger screen (say, 420x320?), thus you'd miss the sides and would need to scroll to the sides to see the entire content (i.e. display images taken with the Treo camera), plus scale the content at a bit of a loss since the ratio 4:3 (x:y) does not scale exactly with a 320 in the y direction
    - Reformat/resize the content to a 320x320 format, and thus add distortion to the image.

    Again, not that I am trying to justify my own jump (the resons for it are different and actually the Treo did not have a chance), it is just that now I can see how much sense it makes to have the rectangular screen if you are an avid infotainment consumer (and prosumer too), and I wonder how can the Treo and future Treos fare in this reality. Yes, they are still able to display the content, but are the sacrifices (if one could say that) acceptable when there is another way to do it?

    I admit I was surprised the screens of the 800w/850 were still square. Maybe it will take yet another round of design since well, it took Palm quite a long time to implement another technology that was very popular and almost standard in other smartphones (WiFi FTW).
    Ode to the Treo Pro: you had to look so good, you had to be HTC in disguise...
  18. #18  
    Waldo15,

    Your argument assumes that "content" is 4:3 (ie video or images). The reality is that most of the content on the internet IS NOT expected to be displayed in that format. If I am looking a page of predominantly text then I see 33% more on a 320 deep screen than a 240 deep screen. This forum page is 10 times as deep as it is wide, (1:10) so the deeper the screen the better.
  19. #19  
    Quote Originally Posted by waldo15 View Post
    320x320 will be able to display more information if the content itself is square or resolution-independent. There's no way around that. But the reality is that if the content was shot or generated in a 4:3 aspect ratio, the 320x320 will have to do either of three things:

    - Display only the 320x240 (closest rectangular res that fits inside the 320 panel) and add black bars wherever necessary.
    That's right... and what the general public needs to understand is that... black bars are OKAY... they are a necessary consequence of mismatched aspect ratio. It DOESN'T mean that anything is defective or that something is being lost, or non-optimal.

    FACT: Content is being generated with a wide variety of aspect ratios, from 4:3, 16:9, various movie ratios (e.g. 1:2.33, etc), portrait (letter, legal paper) , to agostic (e.g. HTML).
    FACT: We don't (yet?) have variable aspect ratio displays.

    Therefore, no one display will accommodate all forms of content without some kind of adjustments (e.g. black bars). *There is nothing wrong with this*.

    So given a particular dpi (pitch), size, etc., for the purposes of aspect ratio alone, there is no reason to consider 320x320 (square) to ever be worse than 320x240.

    There are of course other considerations other than aspect ratio, such as increased cost, increase power consumption from a larger backlight, whether it crowds out a keyboard, how it changes the entire form of the device, whether it "markets" differently than a device that looks like the Jesus phone, whether your software is smart enough to always do the optimal thing, aspect ratio-wise, etc. And clearly people don't want their phone to be like a pancake or bathroom tile -- the norm is a rectangular device. And so with the rebirth of the touch-only device (a Palm PDA in a former incarnation), designers are mostly choosing rectangular displays, held mostly in portrait-mode (but with the option of device rotation to better suit landscape-optimal content). Palm (and RIM, etc), OTOH had early on decided on utilizing the rectangular form differently: display on top, keyboard on bottom. So there it is....
  20. waldo15's Avatar
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       #20  
    Treo enthusiasts,

    I see a lot of good examples and discussion going on. Not surprising the crowd defends the square world of the Treo in the rectangular domain given the nature of the forum. But heck, that was expected wasn't it?

    I think is a bit naive to dismiss that in fact, the sources of media are rectangular. And of course the best way to display them would be a rectangular shape (fit a rectangular peg in a square hole maybe?). 320x320 can fit the shape, no question about it. Do the trade-offs of the screen (as discussed already) make it worth? The crowd seems to agree.

    The market seems to be heading on a different way unfortunately. Would this make the ecosystem, down the road, unsuitable for future square-screened Treos? It is hard to say. The only example I have is when the 700w hit the market, it could only render 240x240 because of the limits in WM at the time... which was set for devices with a 320x240 screen. It was later on added when WM increased its resolution capabilities.

    But there we have it, maybe if I draw yet another parallel to nature, the Treo is the platypus of the smartphone world... an odd creature of sorts that keeps on going despite its "uniqueness", to be politically correct.
    Ode to the Treo Pro: you had to look so good, you had to be HTC in disguise...
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