“Whenever the subject ClearType comes up a few people always come out of the woodwork and proclaim that ClearType looks UTTERLY HORRIBLY DISGUSTINGLY UNWATCHABLE on their system.”
I do talk to other people and I do get to see a lot of different monitor types (I am in a different workplace every few months). And I am not making presumptions, or being authoratative - merely reporting my personal observations (obviously).
(And I am a human being, not something that crawls out of the woodwork…)
I’m sure you could find a majority of people who can’t tell the difference between a boom box and a $50K HiFi system, or who can’t tell the difference between two shades of the same colour, or between a VHS tape and a DVD, or between a fair trial and a kangaroo court.
In fact, in Australia right now you can find a majority of people who think recycled water is not fit for drinking compared to bore water even though it is provably cleaner (and many of them already drink river water that has sewage dumped in further upstream). They would rather live in perpetual drought than have recycled water.
Majority opinion is often invalid and is often a poor method for justifying decisions.
In the end, I will still believe my own eyes that having text fade in and out in contrast with prominant multicoloured fringes makes it harder to read.
Yes, it is a concrete improvement on early model low-resolution cheap LCDs (as previously stated), but I still think you are wasting your time using it on say, an Eizo monitor where the pixel arrangement and behaviour are the same as a CRT monitor, only clearer. Under these circumstances no amount of tuning produces a readable result.
As a subpixel has to be brightly coloured by definition, ClearType has to produce coloured fringes. This is unavoidable, it is what Clear Type does.
Yes, some monitors blur the subpixels together (then it works) and, yes, there are people with low resolution screens who are sitting way back from them who will find it improved.
And yes, they may well be the majority - some people even sit with their 15" monitors 4’ away set at the lowest frequency interlace mode possible, 640x480 with the contrast and brightness turned up 100%, and they are happy with this.
But, if you are using a high resolution monitor with a CRT-style pixel structure at normal reading distance, of course it’s going to be awful.
And the point I’m making is that this is a problem where application developers do not allow ClearType to be switched off. If I could switch it off in all cases, I wouldn’t care.
There is no point in claiming it suits the majority when you can have it suit everyone 100% of the time by providing a checkbox to turn it on or off.
But I also strongly suspect that it is not wise to make ClearType default in future operating systems because the LCD monitors that are coming out now and in the near future will tend not to have the problems that ClearType is addressing.
BTW This statistical test - I find it hard to assess this as I would have to trudge out to the library to find the paper (the web article does not tell me enough to determine whether the experiments were scientifically valid or naive).
“…One of my coworkers has also started getting health problems after he got a new LCD; by 2 PM, he’s almost unable to look at the monitor anymore and spends most of the time with his eyes closed and his hands covering the eyelids.”
I found this as well with the early LCDs. The problem I think was that they were too small for the default resolution, forcing one to lean forward to read tiny text on a monitor that had to be placed too close for comfort (causing neck problems and headaches). Also, the gamma was completely wrong (2.6-2.9 instead of 2.2) so they could not be adjusted to display correctly (unavoidable harsh glare). And they flickered incessantly (see below).
Try an EIZO or other quality brand, 19" screen size minimum (for 1280x1024) - they are accurately calibrated, fully adjustable and gentle on the eyes. A 19" monitor is large enough to read from a comfortable distance without straining. By quality brand, I mean in terms of picture, not “branding” (ability to truly display sRGB or better rather than dither significantly fewer colours), accurate levels, accurate gamma, etc). Unfortunately, this does not come cheap, so CRTs are still more cost-effective for many people.
“Then you’ll also discover that your eyes, if anything, will thank you for moving to a completely flat and flicker-free display.”
This is a commonly quoted myth. LCD screens do flicker, they just do it differently. In the case of cheap LCDs that cannot render the full sRGB gamut, I suspect the flicker is due to pixels being dithered over time to create the illusion of extra colours. This creates a ‘rippling water’ effect travelling down the screen, particulary on certain colours (such as the shade of blue Microsoft uses for the Windows XP desktop). When natural ambient light is used, the backlight flicker is also noticeable on some models.