Category Archives: Design

Schermi Verticali, Non Orizzontali

Le agenzie pubblicitarie sembrano essersi svegliate alla superiorità degli schermi “portrait” verticali rispetto ai tradizionali schermi “landscape” orizzontali: e a quanto piu’ naturali e realistiche appaiano le immagini.

Ma perche’ e’ cosi’ diffuso avere schermi orizzontali, anche sui PC? Probabilmente per due motivi. In primo luogo, i video erano originariamente derivati dalla tecnologia televisiva. La televisione e’ cominciata come una specie di “teatro a distanza” (lo e’ ancora…). I palcoscenici sono larghi piuttosto profondi, perche’ tutti gli attori siano visibili al pubblico (ed e’ abbastanza difficile impilarli…). Il formato di 4:3 degli schermi TV non era una scelta campata in aria (ancor più, la disposizione contemporanea a 16:9).

Inoltre, forse dai tempi del gruppo di lavoro Xerox a Palo Alto sulle interfacce grafiche per PC, lo schermo dei calcolatori e’ stato pensato come un “desktop”, cioe’ la superficie della scrivania. Ora, le scrivanie sono solitamente rettangolari, visto come possiamo muovere le braccia (estenderle e’ molto più facile verso l’esterno che diritto davanti a noi).

Ma la maggior parte usa il calcolatore per scrivere e leggere, per esempio la posta elettronica, e per accedere a Internet. Non sono sicuro che qualcuno davvero pensi che i pochi centimetri quadrati dello schermo siano realmente una scrivania? Invece, libri ed i giornali sono solitamente verticali, e anche i corpi e le facce delle persone sono solitamente verticali.

Perfino le finestre nella maggior parte delle costruzioni sono più alte che larghe… il nostro mondo reale e’ pieno di caratteristiche verticali con cui interagiamo. E quindi sarebbe molto piu’ naturale se avessimo schermi di calcolatore verticali. E in alcuni casi, TV verticali.

E quello è in effetti che sta accadendo in alcuni aeroporti, in cui gli schermi della TV vengono montati verticalmente per visualizzare le pubblicita’. Panorami o prodotti, l’impressione e’ quella di guardare attraverso una finestra in un altro mondo reale, piuttosto che nel teatro artificiale della televisione.

Se il vostro schermo e scheda grafica lo permettono, non esitate e provate a passare alla visualizzazione “portrait”. Io, non ho intenzione di tornare al vecchio “landscape”.

Hope in the Portrait vs. Landscape Saga

Ad agencies appear to have woken up to the superiority of “portrait” (“vertical”) setting of displays compared to standard “landscape” (“horizontal”): that is, how much more natural and life-like the images look on them.

I have already written about how standard computer video interfaces are anything but natural, especially with the advent of widescreen displays.

Why has that happened? Likely for two reasons. First of all, computer screens were originally built using standard TV technology. Television started as a kind of “remote theatre” (most of it, still is). Theatre stages are wide rather than deep, because all actors need to be placed in front of the public and it’s pretty hard to stack them up…the original 4:3 landscape format for TV sets was therefore not a bad choice (even more so, the contemporary 16:9 format).

Furthermore, perhaps since the times of Xerox’s Palo Alto workshop that heralded the era of computer graphics, a PC’s screen has been meant to be a “desktop”…literally, the top surface of one’s desk. Now, office desks are usually rectangular, and this is because of the way we can move our arms (reaching out is much easier on the sides than straight in front of us).

But most of us use computers for reading and writing messages, for blogs and comments, for developing programming code, and in most cases to surf the internet. I am not sure anybody pretends that their few square inches of screen are actually their desktop?

Instead, as books and newspapers are usually in portrait format, and people’s bodies and faces are usually vertically -oriented (that’s why it is called portrait), and even the windows in most buildings are taller than wider…our real-life world is full of portrait-oriented features with which we interact.

It would all look obviously much more natural if we had portrait computer screens. In some cases, even portrait-oriented TV sets.

And that’s in fact what is happening in some airports, where TV screens are being mounted vertically to display advertisements. Whatever is shown, such as panoramas or products, the impression is of looking into a window into another real world, rather than the artificial theatre of television.

So if your screen and your PC’s graphics card allow portrait-orientation, do not hesitate and try it out.

Me, I have no intention to go back to “landscape”.

Unnatural Standard Computer Video Interfaces

It has long been common wisdom to have rectangular monitors, be them TV or for PC’s, with landscape orientation, wider than taller.

Perhaps it is a way of mimicking the movie theatre experience, where such an orientation is in order to serve amphitheatre-like seating, and to provide context to the action.

Recently, things are gone even further down the same path, with Widescreen TV sets (and laptop PC monitors) all the rage.

That may as well be a good choice if all people want to do is watch movies. Not so for Computers of any sort.

Think about it: we are trained to read on portrait-oriented books. Even text fonts and standard printer paper are taller than wider (not to mention our bodies, faces and windows apart from exceptional cases).

Most of us use computers for reading and writing messages, for blogs and comments, for developing programming code, and in most cases to surf the internet.

It would be therefore much better to re-orient the monitors sideways, making their long side vertical.

I have been using such a configuration for more than two years and there is simply no comparison regarding having a more natural experience with portrait-oriented monitors, with far less need of eye and neck movements to keep track of the content of the screen.

Portrait-viewing is rather easy to do on a PC (or Tablet PC), but unfortunately next-to-impossible to find on a laptop computer.

But lo-and-behold: Adobe Inc.’s hugely popular Acrobat Reader does allow re-orientation indeed, making reading of electronic documents almost completely equivalent to paper ones’.

Is portrait-orientation the next step towards the utopian dream called “paperless office“? We will know when manufacturers will, one day, pick up such an obvious idea.