Choosing the Right Monitor
There are many things to consider when choosing a monitor.
We have listed the most important features, what they mean and how they affect you and the monitor.
1. Size: Typically, the size of a monitor is measured in inches.
For CRT monitors, it is the measure from one corner to the opposing diagonal corner. This measurement includes the bezel,
so the actual viewing size is smaller. As for an LCD, the size is the actual diagonal viewing size. For most office applications,
a 17" monitor will suffice. However, go with a larger monitor if you plan on gaming or watching DVD's. Larger monitors will
typically decrease eye strain since you will not be squinting as much. Larger monitors also allow you to fit more items on your screen
at any given time, which is useful if you frequently multitask and keep several windows/programs open at once. Scrolling on larger
monitors is also reduced. Also make sure that the actual physical dimensions of the monitor are applicable to your environment.
If space is very limited, consider going with an LCD. If not, your options are open to both types.
If size is the most important feature that you desire, consider the following:NEC LCD4000-BK - 40" LCD
Viewsonic P220FB - 22" CRT
Samsung 243T - 24" LCD
2. Dot Pitch: This is a measurement (typically in mm) of the distance between the dots that comprise your screen, as CRT's utilize a grid of dots to display images. A shorter distance between the dots means a clearer picture. Monitors with smaller Dot Pitch measurements will typically be much clearer at higher resolutions. Consider purchasing a monitor with a Dot Pitch of 0.26mm or lower. Keep in mind that Dot Pitch is really only important when considering CRT's, as LCD technology is more in tune with using contrast ratio as a clarity measurement.
3. Resolution: Often measured in pixels, horizontal x vertical. A higher resolution means you can fit more on your screen at any given time. Keep in mind that increasing the resolution on your monitor doesn't always mean you will have a better picture. For instance, setting a 15" monitor at 1280 x 1024 will make your screen so small that it may not even be readable. When considering resolution, you must also take into account the size of the monitor. A general rule of thumb to follow is: A larger monitor with a higher supported resolution, will generally give you a better picture. However, you must also keep in mind that a monitor's maximum resolution will be limited by the video card you are using and vice-versa. The following is a guide of various sized monitors that lists their highest, yet still comfortable viewing resolution:
15" - 1024 x 768
17" - 1280 x 1024
19" - 1600 x 1200
21" - 1920 x 1440
24" - 2048 x 1536
These settings may not be appropriate for everyone, but they are typical. You may want your resolutions lower for larger images and ease of reading. It all comes down to what YOU are comfortable with.
4. Contrast Ratio: This is a measurement typically reserved for LCD monitors. Contrast Ratio is a measurement of the difference in light intensity between the brightest white and the darkest black. Higher contrast ratio monitors will produce better color representations over lower contrast ratio models. As a general rule of thumb, you should consider a contrast ratio of 400:1 or greater.
If contrast ratio is the most important feature that you desire, consider the following:Samsung 193P - 800:1
BenQ FP951 - 700:1
Samsung 192T - 750:1
5. Refresh Rate: This is a measure of the number of times your monitors draws an image each second. The standard unit of measure is Hertz. So if a monitor has a refresh rate of 60 Hz, then it draws the image 60 times per second. Refresh rates control flicker. A higher rate means less flickering which leads to less headaches and eye strain. Always get a monitor with a Refresh Rate greater than 60 Hz. Keep in mind however, that there is a tradeoff between Refresh Rate and Resolution. The higher you set the Refresh Rate, the lower your Resolution will be and vice-versa.
6. Flat-Screen: These types of monitors offer a flat surface instead of the typical curved surface of a conventional CRT. Flat-Screens are supposed to reduce glare and image distortion. How much the reduction is depends on the user. Typically, glare is much less on a Flat-Screen. As for image distortion, it is typically very minimal. Flat-Screens tend to be pricier as the technology used to display the image is much more complex. Additionally, manufacturer tend to produce flat-screen monitors as higher-end products.
7. CRT vs. LCD: CRT's (cathode ray tube) are the most common monitor on the market today. These monitors can handle multiple resolutions and typically give the best video playback and greater control over color calibration (for graphic artists). However, they are larger and tend to take up more room. On the flip-side, they are generally much cheaper than any LCD.
LCD's (liquid crystal display) are most commonly found in laptops and offices where space is limited. LCD's tend to be very thin and light weight. They also consume about half the power of a CRT monitor and give off much less radiation. LCD's generally have a clearer, crisper screen which allow smaller LCD's to display higher resolutions than their corresponding CRT. LCD's are typically measured with a "native resolution" which is the optimal resolution. Anything lower usually makes the LCD either redraw the screen as a smaller area or increase the pixel size to fill the screen. Increasing pixel size to fill the screen usually makes for jagged looking images. When purchasing an LCD, make sure the native resolution is to your liking.
When choosing a monitor, there are several key factors to consider. While the above tend to be the most common, there are other features such as wall-mount capability, color-depth, integrated speakers, price, etc. However, these tend to be miscellaneous and do not affect what is most important: The clarity and viewable picture the monitor has to offer.
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