Thanks for the feedback Jon.
Well I for once I was forced to spend money by SWMBO
....on the grounds that having nicked my daughters monitor was "not on".
On the chance that others find themselves in the same boat I'll share my experience.
I've got to take back by pessimism about PC World.
I did a lot of research, ran through the pro's and cons of widescreen (I do have a serious use for it...nothing as fun as watching DVD's...opening several spreadsheets at once for work....
......sorry about the four letter word
) and decided to go and look at what PC World had. I walked through the door and the very monitor I'd sort of decided on (well it was in my top 5) was on and right in front of me.....showing a sales promo networked into it and all the other monitors. It didn't look very sharp to me.....neither did my second slightly over budget choice. I was just getting thoroughly depressed when "a nice young man....a very nice man" asked if he could help. Being a bitter and twisted fully paid up GOG I said it would help me choose a monitor if it had something from a computer on it. Having explained I meant a spreadsheet.....NOT a music video, animation, film clip or other entertainment feature...he delved below the piles of boxes and came up with a keyboard and mouse. He switched the output to all the monitors and presto I had 20 odd desktops to look at. Realising I wasn't going to be fobbed off and that I could navigate a PC without shutting down the store's power supply he left me to play. I opened a spreadsheet (always good to test resolution, sharpness and distortion) and I drove SWMBO to distraction examining what was available. My top two choices (Magazine recomendations at that) were very disappointing. They had a distinct "shadow" were not very sharp and the menu's were difficult to navigate. Then I found what I finally purchased. I'd written off anything with built in speakers, web cams, TV tuners, drinks holders etc. etc. ....BUT there amongst the Monitor/TV's (more accurately a monitor with an analogue TV tuner built in...which will cease to work when analogue is discontinued) was a 20" widescreen which stood out like a sore thumb for its' clear image. A further play revealed easily accessible controls on the top of the monitor (with printed labels) and a quick scan through the menu showed that the aspect ratio was EASILY switchable between 4:3, 14:9 and 16:9 (although 14:9 is nearest to the real aspect TV wise). Well TV or no TV it was sharp had a great spec (only 5 m.s Pixel Response Time) but with a respectable 1680 x 1050 rsolution. TOP TIP here....don't be a "Burke" like me and go shopping without checking your graphics cards possible resolutions.
As it happens my NVidea 6800 manages this BUT be warned. My old Ti4600 (top of the range in it's day) supports much higher resolutions but none of them widescreen. A Driver update might fix that. I'll check that out. At least with NVidea drivers you can always roll back to the previous one. So problem sorted for me and I thought I'd share my experience as a caution about being over impressed by reviews
I would say this.
1) There were several really decent looking 4:3 monitors at less than 1/2 the price. (but I'd decided on going widescreen for other reasons)
2) You can get the same model at Amazon or Dabs £30 cheaper....but if it goes wrong you've the hassle of sending it back
3) The aspect ratio switch means that I haven't had to alter the MSTS .exe and I'm now able to run MSTS in the best resolution. The 5 m.s. refresh rate might worry the latest greatest games and graphics engines but MSTS still judders along as we've come to know and love it
I hate to recomend stuff in case it's not what you want... AND do bear in mind my Ist point. There are a lot of cheaper monitors out there (and a lot of VERY overpriced ones that make this look a bargain too) and doubtless as Analogue TV shuts down they'll practically give these away.
I ended up with an LG M208WA. See point 2...if you want one.
My daughters TV is also on it's last legs and I've tried this with a digital box (It has a scart, Analogue and DVI monitor connector, Phono Video and Audio connectors....AND ALL THE CABLES in the box...well impressed with that
) so I might even invest in a second one for her Christmas present as it's about £100 cheaper than a 19" widescreen TV with onboard Digital tuner...and if you've already got a set top box...
Back to Jon's point.
Yep! I've found my sunglasses now so I can type this
. There are several colour/balance settings in the menu's on this model but the best way to set monitors up that I've got is a util from Adobe called "Adobe Gamma" I'm not sure if this is part of the OS, comes with Photoshop (which I've always had) or is a free download from Adobe. If It's in your Control Panel, and you don't have Photoshop and haven't downloaded it it's part of the Operating System I guess. There are probably other calibration and Colour balancing utils out there for graphics use? Anyway after a bit of fiddling around with custom menus and Adobe Gamma...MSTS is different. It's difficult to say HOW different because as Jon says you're blinded by the worktop's brilliance.
Having had to set up my daughters monitor to run on my machine (in order to go on line and research the replacement monitor) I discovered that her iiyama monitor was MUCH darker than my old CTX. After a lot of adjusting I still wasn't happy until I found a custom "Gamma" slider in the Adobe Gamma util. This works either by Wizard (OK for most monitors) or a manual mode. Apparently Windows default Gamma is 2.20, which is quite contrasty. Try adjusting this down in .05 or .10 increments to 1.80 (much below that will really start washing things out) and see if that helps the way MSTS displays.
Thanks for the original thread. Couldn't have been more timely from my point of view
...and thanks for the tips and feedback guys.