You are being lied to. The world wants you to believe that every screen on which you view content must get increasingly wider. Cinema pushes its IMAX expanse on you at every turn, while the PC gaming market unceasingly demands an ever-widening, pixel-pushing, breakneck new aspect ratio guaranteed to severely tweak your peripheral vision. But what if I told you the world of monitors as you know it is a lie — a complex system of misdirection and half truths, all leading you to make a purchase you know in your heart is a mistake? It’s time to truly open your eyes.
That’s exactly what I did when I purchased the completely square (yes, 1:1 aspect ratio) Eizo FlexScan EV2730Q 26.5-inch display. The monitor — made by a Japanese company that specializes in lab and radiology monitors — isn’t high resolution (it’s a perfect 1,920 X 1,920), and is as tall as it is wide. Meaning that instead of your eyes darting from corner to corner trying to seek out your windows, you get nearly everything stacked and layered in one big, nasty, essentially centered overview. Reading blogs on the web? An absolute dream. Scanning fresh design work for a new website which someone on Twitter will claim ‘makes their eyes bleed’? A nearly orgasmic visual trip. Jamming on Pinterest for the perfect sofa? Sick as heck. Working on a massive, multi-layered audio project? The bees knees. Browsing Instagram on a desktop computer? Madone!
The FlexScan doesn’t have any fancy bells and whistles. Its IPS LED screen is beautifully unadorned, featuring a matte finish that makes looking at just about anything a joy. The resolution leaves something to be desired certainly, but your workflows will slap so incredibly hard when you’re using it that you’ll soon forget that you’re able to see every pixel on the screen. In fact, in some ways it’s a benefit to no longer have a display that essentially downgrades every image on it that’s not MacBook Pro resolution. Is it possible high-res screens have ruined our lives? I think it’s worth considering.
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But seriously: A square monitor makes a ton of sense for the work I do every day, which is mostly reading, editing documents and slides, and chatting with a lot of people. I can have all of my windows at a really comfortable reading height, and when combined with my standing desk, I finally have a monitor setup that sits properly at eye level (I am 6’ 4” after all). I found using a widescreen display to often work against me when I was multitasking, placing objects out to the edges of the screen in an uncomfortable way, and forcing me to center align my browser in a manner that suggested that a 16:9 or 16:10 monitor is actually not well suited to productivity. Now I wouldn’t say the FlexScan is great for gamers (at least not if you’re heavily into FPS titles), and I wouldn’t recommend this display if you’re working on high-resolution graphics of any type (most of the images I encounter are standard web resolution). If you’re looking for the next generation of this type of display, the LG DualUp 16:18 monitor might be a very interesting new choice (needless to say, I want it even though it’s just shy of truly square).
But for now, if you want to stoke productivity while saying ‘no thank you’ to the oppressive, lie-filled monitor industrial complex holding us all back — the easy-to-casually-say Eizo FlexScan EV2730Q is here to take away the pain (or bring it, depending on your application).