Best Guide to Choosing the Perfect Monitor...Page 3

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More Key Considerations You Need to Know About Buying New Monitors

 

Panel Type

The CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) monitor has been gone for decades, and has been replaced by more energy efficient, eye-friendly, and aesthetically pleasing LCD monitors. Under the LCD monitor umbrella however, there are many different choices. One of the first things you have to consider when buying a new monitor is the kind of panel it has, and each one is good for different reasons and purposes.

TN (Twisted Nematic) Panel

TN panels are the cheapest panels out there today, and they are the most common panel used in LCD displays. If your monitor doesn’t specify what panel it use, it’s most likely a TN panel. The good thing about this panel is its capable of fast response time and higher refresh rate, allowing it to perform at around 2ms (or less), making it a good and practical choice for gaming, especially in 3F games, and watching action-packed high-paced movies.

The weakness of this panel is in its color accuracy, relatively low brightness and viewing angle performance. It has the east color accuracy score among LCD panels, and they easily get distorted at different viewing angles. If you’re not into gaming, and you don’t need higher refresh rate, then it will be wiser to look for something else.

(Image from Amazon)

The ViewSonic VX2452mh is one good example of quality TN-based monitor. It’s a reasonably priced monitor that meets almost all your gaming needs. It runs games with blazing fast response time, like most TN panels and offers spectacular resolution for better clarity. It also has mega dynamic contrast ratio of 50M:1 for crisp and sharp images. It looks great aesthetic wise and a quite a decent-performing monitor for its price.

(Image from Amazon)

The Asus PG278Q on the other hand, is a little different TN panel, as it comes equipped with Nvidia G-Sync technology to support fast and low latency performance. The monitor is especially designed for serious gamers; the G-Sync technology syncs the display’s refresh rate to GPU’s frame rate, which is said to make gaming experience way better than ever before. It also has 3D Vision 2, WQHD, 1ms response time, 144Hz refresh rate, 1440p, and super-slim bezels, giving you great graphics and all the in-game advantage.

(Image from Amazon)

The Acer XB280HK is the brand’s flagship entry to the ever-competitive world of gaming, as it is said to offer true gaming experience. Unlike many of the early 4K monitors in the market, it’s neither tiled or works at 1920 x 2160 resolution, causing a lot of funky troubles. Rather, this 28-inch monitor with native resolution of 3840 x 2160 is recognized by the system as one large surface with a 4K resolution. It has excellent color accuracy, crisp and life-like picture quality. Also, it comes equipped with Nvidia G-sync technology for more advanced gaming performance quality. At first glance, one will surely appreciate the attractive and understated industrial design of this display, which easily justifies its price.

 

VA (Vertical Alignment) Panel

Compare to TN panels, Vas have better color reproduction, higher maximum brightness levels, and viewing angle performance. Also, this panel has the better black levels in all four major types of panels today. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the fast response time and input lag. Models using this panel typically cost anywhere around $400 to $800, making it a good mid-range option for computer users who require good color accuracy and reproduction, such as photographers, graphic designers, etc. It can cost more, depending on the screen size. Expect this panel to have a wider profile than TNs.

(Image from Amazon)

Acer B326HUL is one of the newly introduced large screen displays that uses VA panel. It’s a 32-inch professional-grade monitor that lets you open and see multiple windows and pages in one screen. Great for home desks, office spaces and even for entertainment such as watching TV shows, movies and playing games. It carries a 2560 x 1440 resolution, which means it’s four times better resolution than the standard HD 720p. Perfect for users who require more screen real estate, well-engineered to give commercial customers the most comfortable and productive viewing experience.

 

IPS (In-Plane Switching) Panel

Monitors with IPS panels are usually the more expensive types, but they also provide great color accuracy and better viewing angles than the previous two types of panels mentioned above. They are great choices for users who need great color performance, such as photographers and graphic designers. They also look way better than TN, and ties with PLS panels for having the best viewing angle performance. Their black level performance however, is not as good as VA panels, and IPS has the slowest response time and input lag among all the panel technologies available today.

(Image from Amazon)

The Acer H276HL is an affordable 27-inch display that provides solid all-around performance, picture quality, combined with stylish aesthetics. It may not be packed with a lot of features, but it is sure enough to provide the best performance you can ask for. It delivers accurate colors and good grayscale performance, above all, it is sold with a cheap price tag.

(Image from Amazon)

The Asus VS229H-P is good, affordable option for people looking for straight-up business monitor. It’s unassuming, but it makes everything on its screen look amazing with accurate colors, sharp definitions and good response time. It delivers with high color fidelity and impressive viewing angles, making it good for gaming and watching movies, and can be a good tool for photographers and graphic designers.

(Image from Amazon)

The AOC i2473PWM takes pride on its thin razor concept and excellent IPS panel. It’s a mid-sized monitor for all-around use, whether it’s for work or entertainment use. It is stylishly designed and equipped with tons of lovely features that you will need for your workstation. The biggest selling point of this product however, is its two (2) Onkyo 7-watt speakers housed on a Onkyo certified logo for improved sound quality experience. 

 

PLS (Plane-Line Switching) Panel

PLS technology is Samsung’s latest display technology that debuted with a mobile device – the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Tablet. But the first monitor to have this panel is the Samsung SyncMaster S27A850D. PLS panels have viewing angles as good as the IPS, while offering higher maximum brightness level at lower power consumption cost. Samsung claims their PLS panels consumes 15% less power than IPS.

(Image from Amazon)

The Samsung LS27D590PS is a well-equipped 27-inch monitor/LCD TV that comes with cool features to innovate your viewing experience. Like most Samsung displays, it is stylish and elegantly designed, and has all the basic functions and features that works good for both work and home entertainment. It offers Full HD 1080p resolution alongside with various picture-quality-improvement features for convenient and optimal viewing experience. It also comes equipped with a wonderful Game Mode preset feature that when activated (with one press of a button), automatically adjusts the settings of the monitor and deliver optimum gaming settings. This feature detects scene changes, alters the picture setting’s contrast and improves color quality so users are able to see all the action, clearly. Also, with the help of the improved lag time, this the picture keeps up with your every move.

 

Refresh Rate

We mentioned earlier the importance of Refresh rate for gaming monitors. Is it something you really need to consider?

If you play a lot of games in your computer, then you definitely need to consider this factor. Most monitors today has 60Hz refresh rate, which means it can only display 60 frames per second (FPS) as you play (even when your game is set at 100fps). Monitors with 120Hz, are widely considered to offer smoother gaming experience, allowing you to play games in 3D at 60Hz for each of your eyes.

For more information about Refresh Rate and to find out the monitors with the best refresh rates in the market, check our article about refresh rate.

 

Backlight

Let’s get this right off the bat: LED and LCD technologies aren’t equally exclusive. Asking the difference between the two is like asking the difference between rubber soles and Vibram FiveFinger shoes.

The term LCD refers to Liquid Crystal Display, which means it uses liquid crystals to express the things you see on its screen. These crystals work as shutter for the backlight, and depending on the type of charge the electrode of monitor gives, the crystal will either let the light pass through the screen for the user to see, or shut it out. This allows the pixels to express their appropriate colors, which makes up what is displayed on the screen.

LED-based monitors are STILL LCDs, as they still use the same type of liquid crystals to show images on the screen. LED however, uses different type of backlight than what most monitors use. In the past couple of years, monitors uses CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent) tubes for backlight.

Types of Monitor Backlights

WLED

This is the most commonly used LED backlight in monitors today, and it features white LEDs, along the edge of the monitor’s matrix, beneath the array of liquid crystal.

EL-WLED is the smallest and the cheapest type of backlight technologies, which makes it the most widely used backlight for displays today. They require less power than any types of backlight as well.

 

RGB LED

Rather than using white LEDs aligned along the edge of the screen, RGB backlight LEDs are placed all over the panel matrix. Each individual light can produce colors of red, green, and blue, giving the monitor higher color gamut and more accurate color reproduction. This technology however, can be very expensive, and doesn’t allow thin monitor design.

 

Anti-Glare Coating: Matte vs. Glossy

Many monitors out there come with their own anti-glare coating (matte coating), which works by (yup, you guessed it right), preventing glares of light from reflecting to your screen and affecting the screen. If you use your computer in a well-lit room, then this feature can come really handy. However, they can also cause the picture to look a little dull and fuzzier.

If your task requires on-point color accuracy, then you may opt for glossy screen, as they show images with better sharpness. They can increase contrast of movies and games easily.

 

Pros of Anti-Reflective Screen

Compared to untreated glossy surface, anti-reflective screen can nicely reduce glares and reflection in certain lighting conditions.

Because of high visibility of dirt and grime, and low penetration of foreign objects, anti-reflective screen are way easier to clean.

Generally, displays with anti-reflective screen look aesthetically more pleasing and neat.

They make cleaner images without graininess and hazing of images.

Contrast and image vibrancy are improved due to direct light emission.

 

Cons of Anti-Reflective Screen

Highly-lit environment, direct light or strong ambient light can cause the screen to endure troublesome reflection and bleaching of images.

Reflections caused by ambient light may result to eyestrain due to difficulty to focus on images or things displayed on screen.

Dirt, dust, and grime are more visible, especially when the monitor is turned off. This means routine cleaning is necessary.

 

The Half-Way Solution

There are however, coating that compromises between the two – semi-glossy screen. It is actually a matte screen roughened a little less, leaving the screen smoother look and make light diffusion a little weaker. It thins the boundary between the two as it decently prevents glares and reflections, and still provides vibrant and accurate colors.   

 

(Image from Amazon)

The NEC MultiSync EA244WMi is a good example of quality semi-gloss screen coating. MultiSync line in particular, is widely known for outstanding performance and quality, which is why many consider them as business monitor line. This very model comes with a delicate anti-reflective screen coating, but still delivers highly accurate colors, solid grayscale performance and outstanding viewing angle. It comes with tons of business-centric features that you will surely love to have in your workstation. It may not have all the bells and whistles of an expensive mid-sized and mid-range LCD monitor, but it does cover all the basic things you would want to have for your workstation, and more.

The Future

As shown in the Pros and Cons section above glare and reflection reduction is a double-edged sword, which means it should be well balanced to avoid many unappealing consequences. Ideally, we want the screen to not interfere with the light transmission, but at the same time, reduce the effect of ambient light hitting the screen’s surface. Interestingly, experts tried to mimic the nanostructure of the moth eye (picture below), which is designed by nature to maximize the harnessing of light with minimal reflection. Because moths are nocturnal animals, they live in low light levels without light reflection on the surface of their eyes, giving its predators a hard time knowing their positions at night. The technology was introduced in 2003 by a Japanese optical film manufacturer Macdermeid Autotype. It was a novel film coating, and co-developed by Fraunhofer Institute of technology, the innovation was called Dubbed Autoflex MARAG (MothEye AntiReflection AntiGlare). The technology was a success, but the cost of putting them to monitors makes competitive price impossible.

One of the newest innovations which led to the betterment of computer displays was unveiled by another Japanese company – NEG (Nippon Electric Glass), they call their technology the “invisible glass.” It’s an extremely thin piece of glass coated with anti-reflective material on both sides. The material is 30 ultra-thin film sheets, with each sheet only a few nanometers thin. The glass is said to allow light transmission of around 99.8% through the thin glass and reflect only 0.1% light on both sides.

(Left) Bare glass, (Right) Invisible glass. Illumination is reflected on the bare glass.

This glass technology is undergoing further refinement before commercial availability. Indeed, the future is bright for computer displays.

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