I just got a new LCD monitor, a Dell 1800FP, and while setting it up yesterday I noticed that when ClearType is enabled, the text looks downright horrid. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but decided to do a little hunting today, and found out that this is a pretty well-known problem. Microsoft has made some changes to the ClearType tuner, adding support for monitors with a much less common BGR pixel sequence; switching to that sequence improves things a slight bit on the 1800FP, but the results are nothing like what text looks like on the Samsung 770TFT that I’ve been using for the past three years, nor does it approach the benefit that ClearType has offered on all the laptops I’ve owned. A freeware utility named ClearTweak that lets you bump up the contrast a bit, but again, it’s an incremental improvement rather than a solution.

I guess what I’m saying is that people should do a little reading before buying an 18” LCD from Dell right now. In the meantime, I’ll keep you posted if I (or Dell) comes up with a solution.


I have a Dell 1901FP and ClearType text just looks outstanding on it. So it must be specifically that model. How unfortunate.

• Posted by: Rafe on Feb 8, 2004, 12:39 AM

After a fruitless discussion with the first line of Dell’s tech support (seriously, I had to endure a 15-minute lecture on how ClearType worked, and be told that it’s “an advanced feature that customers can’t expect Dell to support in all instances”), the next level up was actually slightly more receptive to the notion that there’s a problem. That being said, he indicated that Dell’s internal tech support database concludes that the tweaks to Microsoft’s ClearType tuner should solve the problem, and that perhaps my specific monitor is faulty; they’re shipping another one out this week, and we’ll see if it’s any better. He did not offer to replace it with another model, which I’d think would be the next step if the second 1800FP is equally flawed.

• Posted by: Jason on Feb 8, 2004, 12:50 AM

ClearTweak now supports BGR and RGB settings for ClearType.

• Posted by: ioIsland.com on Feb 21, 2004, 9:28 AM

I did a double-take when I read this post — I have a 770TFT next to my 1800 FP, with my desktop spanning both.

I don’t use Windows, so I can’t comment on ClearType. Under Mac OS 9 (don’t laugh), font smoothing works well on both screens. An Acrobat PDF window straddling the two monitors shows little difference in the font presentation from one side to the other.

I hope the same is true for OS X.

• Posted by: matthew mcglynn on Feb 23, 2004, 1:29 PM

I own a dell ultrasharp 1800FP. After configuring cleatype to work in BGR mode, I can attest that the cleartype results are outstanding. One of the most importnat aspects of using cleartype with a flat panel monitor is to be sure of two things.

Cleartype ONLY works properly with the monitor displaying at its native resolution. (In the case of the 1800FP, this is 1280x1024).

Cleartype is VASTLY improved when using a digital interface (DVI) input, which requires a video card with a DVI output. THe performance of the 1800FP using a DVI interface is stunning.

• Posted by: Micah on Mar 13, 2004, 2:12 PM
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