Monitors Buying Guide

The rapid advances in technology have made what were once costly high-spec products accessible to the mass-market. Take LCD monitors for example. In the past, only notebooks could boast of having one, but today almost all desktop computers now have LCD monitors.

LCD Price Range

The price range of LCD monitors will depend on a number of factors such as the size, type and features. There are monitors at the budget end of the spectrum, but these often won't have USB ports and will only have limited features. However, most of these budget LCD monitors will use relatively low amounts of energy. Expensive monitors can often be more suitable for those involved in photography and video editing work and come with USB ports and sometimes larger screen sizes. Obviously, those with more features will be more expensive than those with fewer features.

LCD Screen Size

In the beginning, the sizes that you read off the manual for screen size was the actual screen size of the monitor. Today, things have changed and the tendency is for the screen sizes to be rounded up. This means that there may be a difference between the actual size of the monitor and what is written in the product specs info.

LCD Panel Resolution

The resolution of your LCD monitor is very important and for maximum performance, the desktop should be configured to the resolution of the monitor. Failure to synchronise the setting may result in blurred images, as the monitor may take the default resolution and force images into a displayable area surrounded by a black frame. To avoid the black frame, the image can be stretched across the screen hence adversely affecting how the image is viewed. The aspect ratio for most new widescreen LCD monitors is 16:9.

When buying a monitor, choose one with a resolution that makes sense to what you intend to use the monitor for. Higher resolutions mean more stuff can fit into the monitor space, but this does not necessarily mean it's better than lower resolution models. Whether you get a high-resolution monitor or a lower one, will depend on what you use your computer for. Normal desktop publishing may be fine with a low-resolution LCD, but when you add video editing and graphic design, a higher resolution becomes more necessary.

LCD Panel Type

The panel technology for older monitors was Twisted Nematics or TN panels. Although TN panels were fast, they had low viewing angles and colour reproduction was sometimes poor. Now there are Vertical Alignment or VA panels that have better viewing angles and colour reproduction when compared to the older TN panels. Unfortunately, their response time is longer and in terms of price, they tend to cost more. Although monitors using In-Plane switch or IPS are supposed to cost more, they become really affordable when embedded in 22 inch LCD monitors. These types of panels produce beautiful colours and their view angle is superior. A new technology recently introduced by Samsung known as the Plane Line switching or PLS has viewing angles as good as those from IPS,  but with improved brightness coupled with energy savings.

Graphics Card

No matter what technologies are in your monitor, its display will be affected by the PC you are using. If you use a new monitor with an old PC, the display may not be ideal. You may be better off buying a new graphics card to get the best experience. Sometimes all that may be needed is an upgrade of the necessary software.

LCD Connections

There are display ports that could be replacing HDMI ports for video viewing. This is actually suited for slimmer LCD and the cost associated with having this port is currently holding back its popularity. Some monitors feature Digital Visual Interface or DVI instead of HDMI cable. Where possible, endeavour to get a DVI-HDMI adapter cable. Most LCD monitors have HDMI ports that are used to connect to devices like video game consoles etc.Anyone intending to use their monitor as a TV screen should definitely make sure they get one with a HDMI port. Normally the type of connector used by your video card will influence the choice of monitor, however, there are adapters for different port types.

Other Features

This may not seem like an important item to consider, but it can enhance the use of your monitor. Different stand types include tilt, height, swivel or pivot but the tilt is most commonly on cheaper monitors. Using a stand will come in handy if sharing a monitor. USB ports may be necessary for those whose work includes transferring data from one place to another. Some monitors come with in- built media card readers making viewing photos easier.

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