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Display Resolution Problem with ThinkPad T21

Posted on 2004-08-30
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I recently bought 2 ThinkPads (T21).  The disply does not fill the entire screen.  I installed both Win2K and WinXP, and the problem is with both.  I downloaded the latest device drivers from IBM.com and I updated the BIOS to the latest version provided by IBM.  If I change the resolution to a higher setting, like 1280x1240, the screen fills, but the images are too small.  At the 1024x768 setting, there are wide black borders around the visable display area and the imigas are still smaller than they should be.  If I change the setting to "stretch" the video display, the display is larger (but does not completely fill the screen size) but the display is distorted.  There are no visable problems with the drivers in Device Manager.  I believe the problem is not OS-related, as it even exists using a Pre-Installation Enviroment Disk.  Any advice is greatly appreciated.
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Question by:PCDavid
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by:CrazyOne
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Unlikely that the problem is with the OS'es. I can with both OS'es go beyond the resolution you stated. Either the problem is with the monitor or the video card.
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by:CrazyOne
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Some screens just can't handle higher resolution. This requires a lot more video memory and and a screen that can handle that resolution.
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by:CrazyOne
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Could be that you have a defective video card.
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by:CrazyOne
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And many of the high resolution screens will not go beyond and what do you expect. At 1280x1240 do you expect the images to be large.? Hmmm? The higher the resolution the smaller the image will be. Geesh come on here how big do you want the images?
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by:PCDavid
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I have installed an OS on a previous T21, with no problem.  I doubt both machines have a defective video card.  1024x768 is the default setting for this video card, so I'm not pushing the limits of the card.  It must be something else?
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by:PCDavid
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Oh, and another thing, when I attach an external CRT monitor, the display on the CRT is fine.  Hope that helps.
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by:CrazyOne
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>>>as it even exists using a Pre-Installation Enviroment Disk.
>>>LI doubt both machines have a defective video card

Seems like you might have according to what you say.
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by:CrazyOne
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Do you have the most recent drivers for both the card and the screen?
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by:PCDavid
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Hope this helps:  When I change the BIOS to not expand the display and boot from a DOS disk, the display area is about 5x7 in the center of the the LCD screen, but full screen with no "stretched" distortion in the attached CRD display.  What does that say about where the problem is?  Thanks
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by:CrazyOne
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It tells me you have a problem with the VIDEO CARD.
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bobo_tech earned 280 total points
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Everyone, he does not have a problem with the video card, lcd, and/or the drivers.

He has a lcd that does 1280x1024 natively.  It doesn't do any other resolution other than 1280x1024 well like almost ALL other lcds.  Even most new lcd monitors will suffer artifacting if they are subjected to a lower resolution than what it does natively.

A lcd has a finite number of pixels across and down the screen.  It doesn't magically add or subtract pixels depending on the resolution chosen.   Its not a like a CRT display which due to its analog nature can draw exactly 1024 or 800 or 640 or whatever pixels across the screen without interpolating pixels.

Interpolation and example:  You take a lcd which does 1280 pixels across and force it to display 800 pixels across (stretched).  What happens is that the display is still 1280 pixels but it is told to display 800 of them.  So it will do its best.  But what the display is trying to do is to show 1 pixel's worth of data on 1.6 pixels of the display (1.6 = 1280/800).  Well since a lcd can only show 1 pixel for each point, it has to "interpolate" the data for each of the 800 pixels onto 1280 which means a large amount of the 1280 pixels have to display 1.6 worth of data which causes weird colors and odd visual effects on individual pixels hence the bad picture.

You can go into the bios and turn on "stretch" on a lot of laptops but thats only going to make the problem look worse (the artifacting).

So my advice is to live with the 1280x1024 resolution.  Anyway,  it gives you the most screen real estate anyway.
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by:CrazyOne
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Ummm I disagree bobo_tech. Reread the question
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by:CrazyOne
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And I have a friend of mine that has LCD and a Plasma screen and you sceenario does not fit what you said. I can on both monitors get what I can get on a CRT. Sorry  bobo_tech  but what you said is not entirely the case.
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by:PCDavid
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BoBo, I'm beginning to think you are right.  But before I am totally convinced, explain to me how this problem exists on 2 T21s and not on a third.  All three Thinkpads have the same video card, and presumably the same LCD display?  Or do they?  Is it possible that the displays are different?  If so, how can I tell physically?  Thanks for everyone'
s help thus far.
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by:bobo_tech
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Crazy_one, he said that when the image is absolute ( set to a lower resolution than native) it looks good (when not stretched to fill the screen).  He then said that when he stretched it, it looks worse (the artifacting).  As far as the fact that it doesn't stretch out all the way, i have seen that occasionally on certain laptops.  I don't know why they don't stretch out all the way but it happens with some models.

As for the fact that 2 thinkpads might show the artifacting but another one doesn't, there is a very good chance that the third lcd might not be the same brand or whatever.  I don't know much about thinkpads but when it comes to dells, you can sometimes find 3 or so different brands of screens (same resolution/video card) in the same model.  When i got my c610 delll, it had a smashed screen which I replaced with completely different brand but kept the same inverter and lcd harness since I couldn't find the particular brand of screen that was orginally in my machine.

So one brand of lcd might show the artifacting much worse than another brand.  I know with my flat panel lcd at work (a 17 inch sony), it is pretty good at keeping the artifacting down to a minimum but with my Dell, the artifacting is quite noticable.

As a perfect example, i went and changed my native resolution on my laptop that I am typing this post in from 1024x768 to 800x600.  It shrunk the picture down with the black borders.  I then went into the advanced settings for the video settings (radeon mobiltiy m5) and clicked on the option to stretch it out.  Bammo, some major very noticable artifacting that was highly annoying to view (made vertical lines in particular quite fuzzy).  I then revert back to the native resolution and the clarity was back to 100 percent.

So this particular model of lcd on my laptop isn't the best when showing non-native resolutions but on the same token, my sony 17 incher at work is much better (but still noticable if you look closely) so I still stand by what I said.  He is going to get that artifacting on that particular brand of screen.  

The only other thing I can suggest is to go into the advanced settings for the video card and look for a smoothing option or something and see if that helps resolve the issue.  I'm assuming that there might be some type of option like that if he is using the actual drivers for that card and not using the windows built in drivers (which usually don't have any speical features).

I can try to take a picture of my lcd when its set to a lower resolution but I don't think a digital picture will show the degradation very well.
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by:bobo_tech
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One more thing, someone else just posted this link on another question which I think explains what I am trying to describe as well:

http://support.dell.com/support/topics/global.aspx/support/kb/en/document?dn=1050200

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by:sorah
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bobo_tech has right. Too much spoken of this problem, the TFT's shall be used in native resolution or you will get distorted or streched display. THIS is it.
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by:chumplet
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We have about (8) T21s here at our office -- Type 2647-8AU.  The default (native) resolution for these is 1024 x 768, *NOT* 1280 x 1024.  If I set my T21 to run in 1280 x 1024, I end up having to scroll around the screen to see the entire desktop.

That said, I can't find anyway to reproduce the problem that you're having.  If you like, here's a link to the drivers that we're using under Windows 2000 -- they seem to be working just great on all of our T21 laptops.  Hope it's helpful...

http://67.105.130.90/temp/t21_video_w2k.zip

Chumplet
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by:PCDavid
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I'm currently researching BoBo-tech's observation that I may have 2 different types of displays.  The model types seem to bear this out.  The PC that I have no problem with is Type 2647-8AU, like chumplet's.  The 2 problem PCs are Type 2647-FX1.  Maybe the FX1 has a native resolution that is higher.  I haven't yet been able to find any written IBM specs on the monitors for the various types of T21s.  At this point, I can't imagine why any PC maker would produce a laptop that requires the user to use a magnifying glass to read the display.
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by:bobo_tech
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According to this link:

http://www-307.ibm.com/pc/support/site.wss/document.do?lndocid=MIGR-4PEJ5Q

There are 3 different display types used in this model:

- 337.8-mm (13.3-in) TFT display with 1024 x 768 resolution
- 358.1-mm (14.1-in) TFT display with 1024 x 768 resolution
- 358.1-mm (14.1-in) TFT display with 1400 x 1050 resolution

So he probably has the 3rd one and setting it to 1280x1024 looks the best because its the closest to native.

PcDavid, I would try setting the resolution to 1400x1050 and see just how clear and crisp it is.  I wonder if that is the true native resolution of that particular laptop.
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by:bobo_tech
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Also David, a LOT of laptops are coming with ultra high resoltuions.  Its been quite common for the high end models to have resolutions greater than 1280x1024 since the days of the penitum 3's.  My friend had a dell with a 14 or 15 inch screen that was only a pentium 3 800mhz and his native resolution was like 1600x1280 or someting like that.  Another friend of mine with a new dell has the same type of ultra high resolution.

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by:chumplet
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Agreed.  Many laptop vendors will ship a model of their laptop with varying screens -- usually denoted by XGA, SXGA+, WXGA, and so forth.  It sounds to me like those (2) troublesome laptops of yours probably need to be running in the 1400 x 1050 resolution.  That will look pretty darn small on that screen, by the way!  :)

Some LCD screens take a smaller resolution and just center it in the screen with a black border all the way around (I had an Asus that did the same thing), whereas other LCD screens will take all resolutions and stretch them to fit -- even if it's not native.

Perhaps this mystery is solved?!?!
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by:PCDavid
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99% solved.  The problematic T21s work fine at 1400 x 1050, as sugested.  But, can someone explain why IBM would sell a PC that you MUST use at this resolution?  Sure, great screen area, but this is a laptop monitor, not a 20" display.  I know I can change the font sizes and icon sizes and all that, but is this the way they intended the machine to be used.
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by:chumplet
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No good answer there, my friend.  All LCDs have a "native" resolution that they are intended to run in -- some higher than others.  To be honest, there are a lot of users that prefer the higher resolution, more real estate, smaller icons, and so forth.  Developers really seem to prefer it!
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by:bobo_tech
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i really like the higher resolution.  I woud gladly trade my lcd for one that has a higher resolution than the 1024x768 that my current laptop has.

I just wish that they were that easy to trade around but its not that easy.  90 percent of the time, you are stuck with what you got unless you downgrade to a screen that was also available with the lapto when it was bought new (like the t21's, you MIGHT be able to swap out the high resoultion screen/harness/inverter with the lower res one from the lower end models. but quite often they aren't that cross compatible.  Possibly a slightly different motherboard, etc).
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by:PCDavid
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Well, these three laptops are going up for sale soon on e-Bay if you are interested.  I'll close this Question soon, but gotta get back to Hurricaine Frances preparations here in Melbourne, FL.
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by:swift1004
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Hi PCDavid,

I have worked for IBM as tech support for 7 years now, and yes, bobo_tech is absolutely correct.  The only thing I'd add to this conversation with about 2 "actual" IBM laptop experts is this:

Set the display to Large Fonts and Large Icons.  You might find, as I have, that it is almost like a 1024 x 768 diplay, but much crisper.  My laptop display is the same as those T21s and I love it at that resolution, but only when using Large fonts (or extra large fonts) and large icons.

Andy
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by:poeticlykist
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ok that was a lot of posts and im not sure i saw this:

some vid cards ahve an option under display -> advanced

go to "display"
then select your notebook panel

there might be an option "stretch to fit screen" similar to the bios option (could be this, not the bios)
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by:charlyham
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Could it be your monitor driver? You can check IBM's website for latest drivers and get the correct drivers for the display and the video card. Sometimes the XP native display drivers work and sometimes you need the specific drivers from the vendor. I have a T21 and a T23 and I needed the monitor drivers also to correctly set my resolution.
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