No worry: Blurry monitor can be adjusted

Q. I have a new LCD monitor hooked up to my PC, but it doesn't look as nice as I thought. The text seems a little unfocused, and images look a little wide.

A. Liquid-crystal display screens, unlike old-fashioned cathode-ray tubes, only look their best at one resolution. But if you plug one into a PC without changing this setting, you may see text that looks blurry or dim. And if the LCD has wider proportions than its predecessor, everything on the screen also can appear slightly stretched out.

To fix this in Windows XP, right-click on a blank area of the desktop and select Properties, then click the Properties window's Settings tab. (In Vista, right-click the desktop, select Personalize and click Display Settings; in Mac OS X, open System Preferences and click Displays.) Now, move the slider labeled "Resolution" or "Resolutions" to a higher setting, assuming you traded up to a bigger screen.

Your new display's resolution should be listed in its manual or on its box. If you can't consult either, try these common settings: a 17-inch widescreen LCD usually runs at 1,440 by 900 pixels, 20-inch widescreen displays often hit 1,680 by 1,050 pixels, and 19-inch widescreen monitors may prefer either of those values.

Q. My children gave me a new Gateway computer, but I can't plug in my old laser printer because this PC doesn't have a parallel port. Is there a conversion kit I could buy?

A. USB-to-parallel adapters, at $20 to $30 each, can bridge this type of gap. But you'll also need software drivers to let the computer talk to the printer.

Windows Vista may be able to handle that job on its own, and you can also check with the printer vendor. This can be tricky work; you might want to ask your kids to take care of it as Part Two of your gift.

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