Why sometimes intolerance is a virtue...#

So a few weeks ago I bought a new laptop, one of the Dell XPS tanks. Its a monster, but the performance is untouchable. And I can stand all the teasing by my fellow RDs, they just wish theirs was so big.

But it had this weird little foible... some web pages rendered really poorly. The fonts were all jagged, and sometimes it painted incredibly slowly. In some cases, web pages were just plain messed up. And I just put up with it - it wasn't that important to me to fix.

So then a friend of mine bought a Dell, partly on my recommendation. No, he didn't buy the XPS, it bought something a bit more moderate. In fact, the only thing his machine has in common with mine is that they're both Dells. Different processor, video card, etc, etc... but he has the exact same screen rendering problem!

However, not as patient as I, he insisted there must be an answer. I figured since we both have the problem, it had to be something in the default Dell configuration. Its a reasonable assumption, but finding out what could be almost impossible. I suggested that we could just blow the drives and do scratch installs of XP (something I'm prone to doing anyway, just to be sure), expecting that the problem would go away.

Maybe a half hour later, he IMs me - in the Advanced display settings there's an option for Large fonts. It increases the default font sizes of everything on your machine by 25%. And for Dell laptops with high resolution screens (like this awesome 1920x1200 screen), its set to large by default. Setting it back to normal got rid of the problem, and the fonts are really small on the screen. However, more importantly, everything is rendering normally, and nice and fast.

Why put up with tech not just the way you want it?

Drivel | Toys
Wednesday, June 2, 2004 1:07:22 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [3]  | 


Wednesday, June 2, 2004 9:07:06 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Actually, I found the exact same thing happened with my new one back in January. I went with the Centrino-based Inspiron 8600 because the machine I wanted (the XPS/9100) wasnt released yet. Had I known, I would have waited a couple weeks.... but I digress.

I found the same issues witht the 125% font size scaling, but there was more to it than that. at 1920x1280 the default font size of most things (including this web page :) is REALLY small. 10pt font is just too hard on the eyes, clear type, font scaling notwithstanding.

This also affected some gif, bmp and jpg files as well, they were rather jaggedy. I searched and searched for about a half a day, reading reams of endless drivel in Dell Support forums, and I came upon a registry key. I'll be damned if I can remember what it was, but it IS out there, it was quite a common thread on the Dell Support forums. It had something to do with high-res setting, and it was set to 1, and you could set it to 0 and it cleared up about 90% of all the jaggedys on fonts AND graphics. Now I still have 125% fonts, and appearance set to extra-large fonts, but it's not so jaggedy anymore. Im going to forsake some sleep tonight (it's already midnight here) to find the registry key :)
Mark F
Wednesday, June 2, 2004 9:11:50 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
found it. :)

it talks about it, and then also references 3 other articles on the subject as well.

from an MSDN article:
Set the DPI
These are the steps for changing the dpi setting on your system.

Right-click the Windows desktop to display the context menu.
Click Properties on the context menu to display the Display Properties dialog.
Click the Settings tab on the Display Properties dialog to display the Settings tab.
Click the Advanced button on the Settings tab to display the monitor properties dialog.
Select a dpi setting in the Display frame of the monitor properties dialog to change the dpi setting.
Restart your system to allow the changes to take effect.
Add the UseHR Registry Entry
The UseHR value is added to the Main key under "Internet Explorer" as follows:

Internet Explorer
UseHR= dword:00000001
Mark F
Thursday, June 3, 2004 9:16:02 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I can't say for sure whether it would help in this situation, but often these sorts of rendering difficulties with web pages result from pages coded for default Internet Explorer/Win32 setups and nothing else—never mind Mozilla browsers, Macs, Opera, or PDAs, but not even resized fonts.

A well-constructed standards-based website should look at least acceptable in all those environments. Now, whether the DPI and font-size settings just don't look good under Windows XP is another question, but it does make you wonder why Dell would set them that way if websites don't often display properly.

Did you try using Mozilla or Firefox on the same pages, to see if you got the same results?
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