A question about widescreen format

I received a great question about widescreen formats, and I wanted to share it with my blog audience:

Have you tried/considered adding a second monitor and using it in portrait/vertical mode? At work, I am a software engineer, and some of us use two monitors for Windows systems, one in landscape, and the other in portrait mode. I like it so much that I use the same set-up at home. I can view many more lines of code in portrait view, and the dual monitors increase my productivity. Could you possibly find an old 4:3 monitor and use it in portrait mode with the iPad?

So, an answer: our band directory tried to do this the last couple of years during the musical (which closes, this afternoon on a snowy day here in Minnesota). We had some existing widescreen monitors that won't change orientation, so we couldn't use those, and he went out this year and bought a monitor that can change orientation, but it does so from the computer's graphics card, not the monitor itself. So the iPad can orient itself in portrait or landscape, but when an external monitor is attached, the iPad cannot drive the change on monitors that are capable of such rotation. I think he is returning that monitor.

It is possible that there is an old 4:3 LCD monitor out there that can change rotation on its own.

We're not exceptionally interested in finding it. The situations where we would want a larger monitor, such as while conducting, are limited because it would mean extra cords and connectors in the process. For students, or even in practice rooms, the ideal situation is iPad only–easy to use, easy to carry, nothing extra to deal with (except, perhaps, headphones, which all non-hearing impaired students can use). The joy of the iPad is that it has no wires, and it is so portable.

The other catch is that music–with the exception of the “big” band and orchestra scores–is in 4:3 format. The added length of a widescreen monitor becomes wasted space in portrait mode. Perhaps music will be written in 16:10 format eventually, where the musician could take advantage of that extra space. Current 10″ widescreen Android tablets end up being much skinnier than the iPad in portrait mode, but an external monitor should be wider than the iPad. Therefore your resulting image should be larger–although chances are it will have significantly lower resolution and again, cords and connectors.

I think a multi-monitor solution for a computer workstation makes a lot of sense…I'm just not sure it is a logical solution in the teaching or performing environment. That is why I keep hoping for an XL-sized iPad.


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