Buying guide: Computer monitors
The computer monitor (or the display screen) is probably the most visible part of a computer. A good monitor is very essential not only for your computer but for you as well so as to have an enjoyable visual experience with no unnecessary strain on your eyes. A good monitor also eases your workload allowing you to work longer and better, sans any health worries. As such, a good quality monitor is a necessity not just for performance aficionados but also for the general user. All said and done, buying a PC monitor can be slightly tricky give the fact there are innumerable options available in the market for most price ranges. This guide will assist you in making a well-informed decision, so read on!
These days, computer monitors are no longer mere display screens; they can also be used as TV screens or as streaming devices for some video source. Increasingly, monitors are becoming multi-functional devices capable of showing visuals from a whole range of sources. Furthermore, newer advancements in display technology have meant that good old (and bulky) CRT monitors have almost become extinct. Their prominent place in the market has been taken by LCD monitors. These are more power efficient although slightly lacking in terms of accurate color reproduction. Another issue with the LCD monitors has been the screen “blacks”. The “blacks” of a LCD display are not that dark, and often end up producing blurring when fast-moving events are being displayed. However, the recent advancements made in LCD technology have ensured that the newest LCD monitors are more than a match for any CRT monitor. Another addition to the computer display family besides LCD monitors has been the plasma computer monitors. The plasma monitors are much like plasma TVs and are very expensive. Furthermore, though the color reproduction of plasma monitors is astounding, these do consume a lot of power (when compared to the LCD monitors). Another problem with plasma monitors is that in case something goes wrong, the entire monitor has to be replaced thereby increasing the servicing cost considerably. Plasma monitors are very heavy and this often results in placement constraints. Plasma monitors are also plagued with heat and resolution issues, and are deemed impractical by some.
The latest entrant into the computer display market is the LED monitor. The LED monitors use LEDs to provide backlighting and to provide the “blacks.” These offer superb picture quality and also retails at lower prices when compared with the prices of the plasma monitors. They are also as light as LCD monitors, which use (somewhat inferior) CCFL technology to provide backlighting and “blacks.” LED monitors, however, represent the latest in computer display technology and at present are quite expensive when compared to their LCD counterparts.
There are plenty of options if you are looking for a good quality LCD monitor that can complement your computer system. Also, these newer LCD monitors are designed to easily blend with accessories like monitor speakers, studio monitors, printers, scanners, and so on. However, if it’s a plasma monitor or an LED monitor that you want and are prepared for a little hit on your pocket, getting one is certainly justifiable for the exceptional picture quality that you will be getting. Even in LCD monitors, different types exist: some LCD monitors offer average picture quality and are among the cheapest options, forming the lower segment of the market, while others are aimed at gamers and graphics professionals and boast of superb image quality. Needless to say, the cost of a monitor increases with its size.
A LCD monitor is the norm globally when it comes to desktop PC monitors hence it is no surprise that the market is flooded with different types of LCD monitors of various brands. Plasma and LED monitors are also available but the options are limited. Choosing the one that is just right for you and your computer system can be tasking. The below listed key considerations will surely help you pick up the right monitor:
- Screen size: The primary criterion before the purchase of a monitor is, of course, the screen size. It goes without saying that, if you intend to use your computer for graphic intensive work like fashion designing, 3D animation, or CAD/CAM engineering work, where detail is of paramount importance, having a large monitor would make more sense. Further, since in a large monitor, the images and text are larger, there is less strain on the eyes. The same logic also hold if you like to game on insanely highly resolutions and want to make the best out of your new graphics card. For most home usage, however, a screen size of around 22-inch or a 24 monitor serves well.
- Resolution: The resolution denotes the concentration of pictorial detail that is displayed on the screen. The greater the number of pixels that the screen can support, the better is the image quality and image detail. However, note that while a higher resolution is ideal for gaming or for viewing visuals, a higher resolution also makes the text on the screen look smaller, thus hampering readability. The latest trend in the computer monitor market is toward high definition viewability, and it is recommended that you get a monitor that can play high definition videos. You can check high definition Dell monitors, known for their exceptional visual clarity.
- Refresh rate: This is the rate at which every portion of the screen display is re-painted. The refresh rate is directly linked to the image quality; in monitors with a low refresh rate, you may be subjected to a flickering screen that is detrimental to the eyes. Furthermore, in monitors with a slow refresh rate, you may also have to lower the resolution of your image to maintain a decent refresh rate.
- Color depth: Color depth refers to the number of colors supported by the monitor. The higher the color depth, the better and more vivid is the image quality. Most LCD monitors offer 16.8 million colors.
- Dot pitch: This is the distance between two pixels in the monitor. While a higher dot pitch corresponds to better image quality, it does have a negative effect on resolution. For example, for a monitor with a very high dot pitch, the screen size has to be quite large to support a larger resolution.
- Pixel response time: Pixel response time is the time required by a pixel to take a new color. Lower the pixel response time, faster the transition between individual frames, and smoother the visuals. Furthermore, note that while monitors with a slightly slower response time suffe5r from blurring or double imaging when displaying fast paced events, these will work just fine in most of the situations.
- Brightness: As with televisions, the higher the brightness rating of the device, the better the image quality and clarity. Do have a look at this metric before deciding a purchase. Brightness is measured in candelas per meter square (cd/m2).
- Contrast ratio: The contrast ratio denotes the variance in the color and brightness of an image in the foreground as compared to in the background. The higher the contrast ratio, the better the image quality. Given the recent advancements in display technology, finding a good computer monitor with a high contrast ratio of 1000:1 should be no problem. For performance seekers, monitors with contrast ratios as high as 10,000:1 are also available.
- Aspect ratio: The aspect ratio is the ratio of the width of the monitor to its height. The most common aspect ratio is 4:3. With the current generation monitors, the trend has shifted towards wide screen displays. Such monitors offer a true cinematic aspect ratio of 16:9 and deliver power-packed visual experience.
- Viewing angle: The viewing angle is the maximum angle towards the side of the monitor from which one can get a clear picture of the image on the monitor. While the higher the viewing angle, the better it is, it needs to be noted that the effective viewing angle of any monitor is quite less than the quoted value.
- TCO certification: TCO certification is issued to those monitors that pass all the tests pertaining to emissions and energy consumption, and it is recommended that you check the monitor you wish to buy for the same.
- Connectivity: Current generation computer monitors invariably feature multiple connectivity options including USB ports and s-video thereby providing greater functionality.
- Warranty: Some manufacturers offer comprehensive warranties on their monitors, and this is evident of the confidence they have on their products. It is certainly recommended that you do give due consideration to the warranty period being offered before making a purchase.
- A good monitor is very essential not only for your computer but for you as well so as to have an enjoyable visual experience with no unnecessary strain on your eyes.
- Newer advancements in display technology have meant that good old (and bulky) CRT monitors have almost become extinct only to be replaced by high-end LCD displays.
- Today, LCD monitors form the bulk of the market when it comes to monitors and display screens. These are more power efficient although slightly lacking in terms of accurate color reproduction. However, the recent advancements made in LCD technology have ensured that the most recent LCD monitors are more than a match for any old time CRT monitor or flat screen computer monitor.
- Though the color reproduction of plasma monitors is astounding, these do consume a lot of power (when compared to the LCD monitors). Plasma monitors are also plagued with heat and resolution issues, and are deemed impractical by some.
- The latest entrant into the market is the LED monitor; LED monitors use LEDs to provide backlighting and to provide “blacks.” These offer superb picture quality while retailing at lower prices in comparison to the plasma monitors.
It also goes without saying that the looks of a monitor and the brand loyalty will play a major role in your decision. Nevertheless, it is advisable that you do not compromise on the features that matter the most.
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