A good monitor is a surprisingly inexpensive way to dramatically improve your working relationship with your computer. A good monitor can make things easier, faster, and even more fun.
On the other hand, a bad monitor can really wreck things between you and your machine. A tiny or fuzzy display can make your eyes hurt, give you a headache and, in general, just make it hard to get anything done.
Recent prices (mid-2011) for good-quality monitors start around $75; so it may be time to give your eyes a break and look for (pun intended) a new computer display.
Recent, sudden changes in monitors:
If you haven’t shopped for a new monitor recently, you may be surprised at two changes in the marketplace: the tube-type “CRT” monitors are all gone, and so are the 4:3 square-ish screens. It’s all flat-panel and wide-screen now, so, with few exceptions, if you find square screens or tubes in a store, it is probably a close-out or a refurb.
“LCD” vs. “LED”:
When shopping for monitors it may seem that there are two types: LCD and LED. Actually, here in late-2011, they are all LCD, and the “LED” designation refers to the type of backlight that is used to illuminate the LCD screen from behind.
The older, and still more common backlight technology uses a fluorescent light; usually a very thin tube along the edges of the screen.
Newer LED backlit monitors – often just marketed as “LED” – use a thin panel of white LEDs across the entire back of the LCD screen, making for much whiter, brighter and more uniform backlight.
Things to look for and compare in monitors, besides physical size, will be in:
— comparative brightness (lumens; higher is better),
— comparative contrast (given as a ratio of difference from pure white to pure black; again higher is better),
— resolution (as a number of pixels on a side; e.g. “1600×900” or “1920×1080”. Higher is better.).
— They may also discuss “speed” but this is only vaguely important for some game players and not relevant for normal computer use.
If you can get to a store to look at some monitors, that would be great. Check out a few and see if any look better than the others. Unfortunately, you can’t always count on the stores to have them setup properly. If the picture looks stretched or pinched, then it’s not set up correctly.
Be assured that if the resolution is set correctly, the image will not be distorted when you get it home.
Happily; modern computers – Windows XP and later, and any OS-X Macs – will be able to adjust to wide-screen resolutions just fine.
Don’t be too concerned about the price. Very good, even excellent monitors can be found under $100 for 19” sizes and under $200 for up to 23-24” sizes.
— The under $200 models are really fine. Don’t shy away based on price. LED technology is dropping in price to under $200 forcing the slightly inferior but heretofore standard LCD technology even lower.
— Distortion in the store is a result of the store being lax in setup. The monitors automatically try to fill the screen, even with an incorrectly configured image, resulting in pinching or stretching. You won’t have that problem with your computer.
— The monitors labeled “LED” are still LCD but may have brighter and more contrasty backlights.
— A well-known name brand is not required to get a good monitor, (but reputation never hurts).
— The major retailers all have 14-day return and exchange for monitors.
— Measure your desk space before you order!
And, as always, give me a call if you have any questions! Mike Pepper ~ Computer Guy; PawlingComputerGuy.com; 845-855-5824.