Flat Screen Monitors

If you’re considering going to a multi screen setup you’ll probably need to purchase a new monitor, and most monitors these days are flat screen monitors, also known as LCD monitors.

There are actually two types of computer monitor available although LCD flat screen monitors are steadily gaining in popularity and coming down in price.

CRT Monitors (CRT- cathode-ray tubes) – this technology has been around since the first televisions. They are bulkier than LCDs and consume more power. CRT monitors do have certain advantages though: 

  • They have flexible resolution and have higher color ranges than LCDs
  •  Can be viewed from any angle

LCD Monitors ( LCD – liquid crystal display) - also known as a flat screen monitor, they are thinner, lighter and easier to move around than CRTs.

More advantages /disadvantages of LCD monitors: 

  • Less than half the weight of CRT monitors
  • Changing resolution from the native resolution will bring about a drop in quality
  • Flicker free
  • Physical size – the smaller frame on an LCD means that when you purchase a 17” model you get the full 17” of viewing area
  • Good for those with limited desk space – can be hung from wall or ceiling

Types of Flat Screen Monitor

  • High Resolution – monitors with higher resolution have more pixels, correctly known as ‘pixels per inch’ or ‘display resolution’. Wider screens will have higher numbers of pixels, usually measured in width by height. More about high resolution monitors..
  • 1920 x 1080 and 2560 x1440 are typical wide screen display resolutions.
  • High definition screens are also sometimes referred to as having a 16:9 aspect ratio, which can have varying resolutions
  • Sizes - LCD monitors come in a range of sizes. 15" was previously common, but most now start at 17" and go up to 21" size monitors, up to 27" and new 30" monitors.

 

How To Choose A Flat Screen Computer Monitor

If you are still using the CRT monitor, then you are missing all the good things flat screen monitors can offer. CRT is a space-hugging machine on anyone’s desk, consumes huge amount of power and easily strains the eyes. Flat screen monitors on the other hand offers high resolution and better image display quality, consumes less power, leaves more space on your for you to work on, above all it doesn’t stress the eyes compared to the CRT.

If you already have a flat panel, then there are more reasons to upgrade, like getting the newest models for better display, wider screen for gaming or watching movies on your computer, or extra monitor for dual screen or multiple screen setups. Here are the factors to consider when buying a flat screen computer monitor:

Screen size

Wider screen is usually a good thing, and getting the largest screen you can is a good idea for most types of use. The decision comes down to your budget and the space of your desk. For a 19 inch to 20 inch monitor, expect to pay around $125. 22-inch screen monitors are priced around $150, while 24-inch is around $200.

Most monitors available in the market today are flat-panel LCDs with lightweight construction. They come in variety of sizes. Smaller monitors can be enough for basic home and office use. If you play games, watch movies or open a lot of media, a monitor with a larger screen would provide better viewing experience.

If you’re having a hard time managing space on your desktop, and you do a lot of your work on your table, then a small 17-inch monitor will suffice. This size can leave you with ample space to work on.

If you open a spreadsheet or work on photos, then you may need a reasonable amount of space such as 19 to 20-in monitors.

22-inch monitors provide sweet display for gaming and media applications, while 24 to 27-inch screens are perfect for hardcore gamers and people who love to watch movies and TV shows in their computer.

Display Resolution

Aside from the size, you have to make sure you get the right display resolution that suits your needs and preferences, its compatibility with your desk and how you use your computer. Older computers can’t support new widescreen monitor drivers and the odd resolution size may cause display issues.

Monitor display resolution is measured in pixels (p) of width and height of the display (width x height). For example, a resolution of 1024 × 768 on the display is 1024 pixels wide by 768 pixels high. Most old models of computer accept pixels that can be equally divided by eight (8). Newer models of monitors on the other hand, come in widescreen design and odd sizes not multiple of eight. Many high quality monitors out there for instance, provide stretched resolution for computers not compatible with odd resolution sizes. This usually applies when the computer is of a different brand than the monitor.

A 19-in display is usually at 1440 x 900, 22-inch at 1680x1050, while 24-in is at 1920x1200. Apple’s 27-in monitor is tested at 2560x2440 resolution.

However, it pays to know that not all flat screen monitors have this capability. Thus, before purchasing a new flat screen computer monitor, understand the requirements of your computer, including the resolution requirements and its compatibility with your computer.

The higher the resolution, the more content can fit on the screen. Higher resolution is better for working with photos and graphics.

Response Time

Response time means how quickly a flat panel computer monitor can respond to image transitions most common in video games. AOC G2460PG is one of the best gaming monitors out there today: it runs with 1ms response time and 144Hz, and it comes equipped with the brand's very own G-Sync monitor technology for super smooth gaming.

Brightness and Contrast

If you’re working in a brightly lit room, such as in your office, then it is important to have a computer screen with good brightness level. Specifications for brightness are referred as cd/m2 or candelas for square meter, the higher the number, the better. You can also control the brightness of an LCD monitor through buttons provided on the on-screen controls. Most monitors also come with counter-balance controls (referred as color temperature), screen geometry adjustments and similar functions.

Contrast on the other hand, is expressed in ratio, and is measured by the difference between the deepest black and brightest white. High contrast ratio makes more vivid and punchy images. However, because the way computer monitor manufacturers measure contrast in their products, advertised figures are not very reliable.

Connectors

Virtually speaking, most new connectors now come with a DVI (digital visual interface) ports that you can use for higher end video cards for better images, perfect for gaming and media. However, not all come with the required DVI cable (however, you can purchase the cable separately for about $10).

HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) ports are becoming more widespread. Many new computers and electronic are equipped with this connector, such as Blu-ray/DVD players. One of the biggest advantages of this type of connector is that it allows both audio and video to be in the same cable altogether, useful for monitors with built-in speakers. If you want a monitor without the built-in speakers, then you can purchase an adapter for around $25 that can convert DVI port into an HDMI connector. However, you will not have an audio for it.

DisplayPort is a new type of connector. It can provide the same functionality as the HDMI, but because it is royalty-free, it is cheaper for manufacturers to use it. Last year, many computer manufacturers and display makers said they would eventually replace DVI and VGA connectors with DisplayPort and HDMI ports.

Touch Screen Monitors

For flat screen monitors, there are three basic things you need to look for: smooth and responsive movement as you swipe the screen with your finger, ample glass space on the screen for easy swiping from the side, and the ability to move displays to different positions for convenient and comfortable operation, or the ability to perform touch-based tasks and play touch-based games.

3D Monitors

This is a new feature common among newer models of mid to high-end computer monitors. This is a perfect monitor for gaming as it supports 3D effects on different angles easily and uses passive 3D technology. However, you will need 3D glasses to watch the 3D effects. Display on passive 3D display is brighter than active 3D. And active 3D glasses are usually heavier, cost more and may need batteries to accommodate 3D imaging.

Extra Features

There are models of monitors out there that come with a built-in microphone, USB ports, speakers and even HDMI inputs for viewing Blu-ray player output or videos straight from camcorders. There are also monitors with memory-card readers, allowing you to insert your memory card and view and transfer media files straight from your camera and iPod docks. This makes viewing images and videos or playing music on your computer more convenient. Some monitors come with built-in TV tuner that allows the device to double as a TV.


Stands and Mounts

Very few factory monitor stands offer anything other than being able to tile back and forth. Many consumers opt for business monitors just to have get a comfortable setup and be able to adjust the monitor up and down or swivel in specific angles without moving the base. For dual monitor display setups and workspaces, aftermarket products such as dual monitor arms or wall mount is the best and most practical option, as they provide the versatility and convenience for any workspaces.

 

Refresh Rate

Refresh rate is measured on how long it takes for the monitor’s pixels to go from white to black and vice versa. If the monitor’s pixel is not fast enough, then you may experience “ghosting” which can affect your viewing experience. Most good monitors average around 5ms. which is usually acceptable even for gaming purposes.

 

Viewing Angle

This is expressed in degrees (170° for example) and the determining factor of the range of angles the monitor is perfectly viewable. Many older models of LCD computer monitors have a serious problem in viewing angles, while newer models have already addressed this issue.

 

LED backlighting

LED makes brighter, slimmer monitors, consumes less power and with no warm-up time compared to the traditional CFL (compact fluorescent) backlights. LED monitors are just LCD monitors with LED backlighting.

 

Gloss or Matte

This refers to the coating of the LCD screen, and display varies depending on lighting conditions, which can make a huge difference. Gloss monitor screen coating can enhance the contrast to make a more vibrant look, but they also tend to reflect their surrounds when displaying dark images or powered down. Matte monitor screen on the other hand, tends to look duller, but it can work great under challenging lighting conditions, such as putting the monitor across a big window.

The AOC i2757fh for example, uses matte coating to eliminate glares and reflections, making it a comfortable display for working, even in well-lit environment.

 

TN or IPS

TN stands for Twisted Nematic panel, and it is used in many affordable monitors. They are cheap, power efficient and come with quick refresh rates. IPS on the other hand, stands for In-plan Switching panels, very common among expensive high-end monitors known to provide better color reproduction and wider viewing angles.


More Flat Screen Monitor Shopping Tips

Look for Easy Adjustments

Basically, all new LCD computer monitors can tilt up and down, but that’s about it. If you’re looking for extra flexibility, look for monitor that lets you adjust the height as well. There are newer models in the market today that allows you to rotate the monitor to 90 ° and switch the monitor orientation from landscape mode to portrait mode, vice versa. This is quite a useful feature for viewing larger webpages or longer text documents.

 

Look for Long Warranty

Many computer monitors come with a 3-year warranty for both parts and labor. Other brands only offer 1-year coverage. You may have to pay more, but you will never go wrong with longer warranty coverage, especially in expensive models.

Another factor you should consider is the defective-pixel policy of the manufacturer. Some manufacturers consider a particular number of stuck, hot or dead pixels acceptable, while other manufacturers will offer replacement of the product when under warranty period even for one faulty pixel.



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