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Computer Monitors

May 16, 2008  |  Difficulty: Easy

When looking at computer monitors, you have two choices – LCD or CRT.  However, CRT monitors that have been around since the advent of the personal computer are quickly being replaced by thinner and brighter LCD monitors.  LCD models take up much less room on your desk, provide truer color representation, and offer higher resolution.  When shopping for a computer monitor, here are some features to investigate.

Panel Size: Measures the display viewing area diagonally, not the size of the unit itself. Make sure that your desk has enough room for the monitor that you are considering.  Many LCD monitors now come in wide-screen formats designed to take full advantage of HDTV and movie viewing in their full width.

Aspect ratio: The newer wide-screen monitors have an aspect ratio of 16:9 or 16:10 and are a good choice for movie-buffs who like watching movies or videos on their computers.  A standard proportion in width to height is 4:3.

Pixel-Response Rate: The speed at which a pixel can change colors measured in milliseconds.  The lower the number the faster the pixels change colors, reducing the appearance of streaking as images change.  For those interested in gaming or movie viewing, a maximum of 12ms to 15ms should be chosen.

Digital vs. Analog Signal: While most LCD monitors support both digital (DVI) as well as analog (VGA) signals, some less expensive models only support analog.  LCD monitors are digital devices, so all signals must be converted to digital format in order to be displayed.  Processing of analog signal has improved significantly over the years, so most consumers cannot tell a difference between the signals.  For those using their computers for games or other graphic-intensive programs, image relay will be sharper and smoother if a digital graphics card is transmitting directly to a digital LCD.

Resolution: The number of pixels that can be displayed across the monitor at one time.  Higher resolution will allow more information to be displayed at one time and will produce a smooth and clear image.  For programs requiring high resolution, ensure that the monitor is large enough to handle that resolution without making the text too small to read. 

As always, the best way to examine the quality of a monitor is to look at it, and to compare it with other models using your own eyes.

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