Pragmatic 2B: The Battery Problem Follow-up 2

15 December, 2013


Follow up (Part B) to The Battery Problem where we explore the practicality and necessity of larger screens in relation to their power consumption.

Transcript available
This is Pragmatic Follow-Up Part B for Episode 2, The Battery Problem. I'm Ben Alexander and my co-host is John Giggi. Getting stuck right in. Talking about Episode 2, I made an offhand comment, I think, unfortunately, about monitor sizes. and a couple of bit of flack from that actually from a couple of different sources. And the suggestion being, when I said that you don't, who needs more than a 24 inch monitor? Certainly there are a lot of people out there that say that they do. So I just wanted to quickly address that. Obviously when I was talking about it, I was talking about it from point of view of energy consumption, 'cause the larger the screen, the bigger the backlight, even if it's side little LED, you've got a larger area, it's gonna require more light. So inevitably it's gonna consume more power. I've also found in my investigation that when I was looking for a new monitor that the larger monitors are still predominantly using older technology. So the cheaper to manufacture technology which is less energy efficient. So the most energy efficient monitor I found was a 24 inch monitor and that's what I ended up getting. So I guess one of the things I wanted to sort of had a quick look at was the sizes of monitors, not surprisingly is increasing. So that's kind of a captain obvious statement I realize, but people are wanting bigger and bigger screens. And honestly for desktops, I guess if you're gonna walk around with an iPhone in your hand or an iPad and they're much smaller screen sizes, when you get a desktop, you're gonna want the biggest screen you can get away with. And that's fine, that's fair enough. And there was an IDC report showing that 31 inch plus monitors. So sorry, 31 inch and up monitors, they're actually the fastest growing monitor size in terms of sales. Of course, it doesn't mean that they're technically the most popular, like in an absolute sense, they're not necessarily popular. I'd say they aren't, but they're growing the fastest because the overall trend in PCs is, of course, everything is trending downwards. Yes, people are getting laptops and iPads and iPhones and so on and so forth, Chromebooks even. So I guess there's a link in the show notes to some of the IDC data. It's worth a look if you're curious. They do a monthly report on it. But in the end, the argument about what size monitor you need is obviously it comes down to personal preference. I mean, you can say, well, the majority of people can get away with a 19 inch Forrester 3 monitor. And frankly, you go back five years when 24 inch monitors were hideously expensive. And you would probably argue that maybe you have to go further back, maybe seven or eight years. But you know, it's like everyone has started out with computers that had 13 inch CRT screens and that worked okay. So, it's sort of hard for me to say, oh, yeah, okay, you don't really need it. Well, you don't really need it until you've got something bigger and better. And then suddenly you need that something that's bigger and better. So I do, I accept that. But when I was making that reference, I was really making the reference with respect to energy saving. And it's inevitable, of course, that they will make strides in that area as well. And the larger monitors will come down in power consumption. But no matter how you slice it, smaller screens will always consume less power than bigger screens. That's just a law of physics. You're never going to get around it. Whether that difference is significant in the future remains to be seen. So maybe there will come a point when the difference between the power consumption of a 24 inch and 27 inch monitor made through identical processes is less than 1% or something. Yeah, at which point in time you can say, fine, get a 27 inch monitor. Doesn't matter. That's fine. I guess what I was really trying to get at is people think I need a bigger screen because of X, Y, Z. and they don't think about the amount of power that it consumes. And I just think that it's something that people should really be considering quite seriously. The amount of power that a monitor consumes, if this thing is on all day, you'd be surprised actually how much some of these monitors can can take. My older monitors, I think I said on in episode two, it was drawing 35 to 40 watts of continuous power. That was a 27 inch AOC monitor. Whereas my new Samsung monitor, 24-inch monitor, only draws 10 watts. So, it's approximately a quarter of the power consumption for almost, but not quite, almost the same size screen. That's a huge difference. And I didn't really need the bigger screen, so I downsized. And I guess that's really where I was going with it in the first place. So, anyway, hopefully that addresses that problem. Yeah, I'm looking at and trying to find it here. here, see what the power draw was on the old, the 21 inch Sony Trinitrons that I used to have. We used to have about a dozen of them in the office and I think I brought that up on the show that eventually we just realized, "Oh my God, we're spending so much money on electricity running these things 12 hours a day." And yeah, it's the same story, right? I mean, it's essentially that, you know, putting two of those things in front of every graphic designer in a shop really quickly, it made more sense to jump over to even early flat panels. And yeah, it's just it's the same story. Well, the thing that I find interesting with monitors and their size and power consumption is I liken it a little bit to in the 60s and 70s with all the muscle cars and the big engines and, you know, they were big, heavy, but they still had a lot of power. And then when there was a fuel shortage during the 70s, mid 70s, I think it was, and then they started to need cars that were simply more fuel economical. So, yeah, it's kind of a similar thing with electricity. And the problem with electricity is it's only recently started to reach a point where people are realising the electricity just keeps going up and up and up in price. So inevitably, we start looking for energy saving because the resource is not, it's not an infinite resource. It's not free. So, you know, people should be thinking about how much electricity they're using because it does hit your hip pocket. It does cost you money. And honestly, inevitably, it ends up affecting the environment if you're needlessly consuming four times the amount of energy just because you got a slightly larger monitor. Do you really need to be doing that? Right. So anyway. OK, so that was all the follow up from episode two. Oh, episode. I'm sorry. Yes. 150 watts each. 150 watts each of the Trinitron. Right. How big was the CRT size? It was like a 20 inch. No, it was about a 20 inch. I mean, these are big monitors. There was a there was a shop up in Cleveland that would refurbish them, they'd get them from companies and sell them back to you cheap. So we would just, we'd buy them. You know, in that respect, maybe the economics worked out. But at the time, it was like the biggest, nicest, densest screen you could get, you know, for any sort of affordability. And but yeah. If I remember rightly, the Trinitrons, they're the ones with the extra flat screen, weren't they? Yeah, it was. Like, yeah, it was really nice. Yeah. And when they got big enough, you would have like one or two pixels across that were like the little shadow mask thing. But other than that, yeah, it was like it was the best looking screen you could get. It was at least that I was aware of. It was really nice. And yeah, not having the curvature, at least not visibly. It was good. Yeah. Oh, yeah. I used to hate the CRTs, how the cheaper ones that I typically was working on had that curvature at the sides. It was really, really annoying. And you had to do the whole pin, the pin cushion adjustment and all that. And- Terrible. And then there was a degaussing that you had to do every now and then to- Oh, yeah. Well, those were ones where, yeah, when the cell phone would ring, you could see little flickers on the screen. That's right. I remember that now, yeah. And you couldn't just put any old speakers next to them. They had to be fully shielded speakers. Right. Otherwise, the speakers would pick up all the noise from the magnetic field. And it weighed, I'm looking, it weighed 65 pounds. God, they were so heavy. So, they were actually heavier than the Mac Pros. - Yeah, 'cause to flatten the screen on the front, they had to thicken the glass significantly. Yeah, because the flatter it went, the more pressure, 'cause inside the CRT was a vacuum. So, yeah, if you didn't strengthen that glass at the front, the vacuum was just gonna, the tube would collapse in on itself. And so, of course, that made these things so heavy, especially at the front. And yeah, no, they're a nightmare. I'm so glad CRTs are gone. - You know, and it's funny, 'cause since they were 4'3", I'm thinking about it that you know a 21 inch screen really was was. Not we have it was this huge thing but it was like I have the 17 inch MacBook Pro in front of me right like God that screen really wasn't that much bigger it was and that's the thing with the 2427 thing right I mean. A lot of times you're you know the way our eyes work you know we really only have very good resolution over a very small area of what we're looking at at a time and. We have that weird kind of flicker. When your eyes move, when you look at one thing and you look at another thing, it's off to another angle. Your brain just kind of blanks out a bit of time and then kind of rewrites it back in. So there's all kinds of strange things that happen when you're presented with too much information at a time. Which is actually one of the reasons why I got rid of the second monitor and I'm down to just the laptop screen now. A lot of that state shifting and if I'm not programming, if I'm not doing something where I really, really have to be accessing a lot of information back and forth very quickly, I think it's better to have the focus than to have the, the, not what's the right word, than to have the, the, that broad view. But. Yeah. I find, yeah. I find that when I'm shifting between, cause I always use an external monitor, but what I find is that when I use the external monitor, I don't actually switch between the two. I'll like, I'll use the smaller laptop screen as my, it's like my parking screen. So if I've got a window and I want, I just like drag it over and shove it in there. And then if I've got windows I'm working on, I tend to focus on those on the larger monitor. And I find that I hate looking at the laptop screen when it's next to the big monitor, because the size of the pixels is more dense on the laptop screen. So, I find myself refocusing, despite the fact that they're both at approximately the same height, because I've got a laptop stand and work I do anyway. and despite the fact that it's exactly the same document, they're in totally different sizes on the two screens because of the pixel density. And I find myself refocusing and it gets really irritating. So, I just end up not looking at the laptop screen. I mean, it might as well be shut. Yeah. And that's, you know, for the longest time, I was always a big advocate of dual displays and because it was the cheapest way to get that much real estate. But now I'd say that, yeah, - Yeah, if you do want a really, really big screen or you need a really, really big screen, then just get a really, really big screen. Don't try to kind of jumble a bunch of things together. At least not if you want to be nice to your eyes for more than a few years, because that... I mean, it's pretty obvious. I don't need any science to tell me that jumping back and forth between two things are slightly different is a bad idea to do for it.
Duration 12 minutes and 16 seconds Direct Download

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Ben Alexander

Ben Alexander

Ben created and runs and Fiat Lux

John Chidgey

John Chidgey

John is an Electrical, Instrumentation and Control Systems Engineer, software developer, podcaster, vocal actor and runs TechDistortion and the Engineered Network. John is a Chartered Professional Engineer in both Electrical Engineering and Information, Telecommunications and Electronics Engineering (ITEE) and a semi-regular conference speaker.

John has produced and appeared on many podcasts including Pragmatic and Causality and is available for hire for Vocal Acting or advertising. He has experience and interest in HMI Design, Alarm Management, Cyber-security and Root Cause Analysis.

Described as the David Attenborough of disasters, and a Dreamy Narrator with Great Pipes by the Podfather Adam Curry.

You can find him on the Fediverse and on Twitter.