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What should I know when buying an LCD monitor?

In spite of wearing glasses, my eyes get very tired after 8 hours of work on the computer.

I'm planning to buy a 19" LCD monitor.

The problem is, I have absolutely zero experience with LCD monitors.

What should I look for in a 19" LCD monitor?

What caracteristics and features should I look for?

I shall use the monitor mostly for coding, web browsing, and sometimes for watching movies and TV (I have a TV tuner).

However, I don't mind losing the capability of watching movies (I understand that LCD monitors are not good for watching rapid movement) if the monitor protects my eyes.

Thank you!

MX
Monday, March 22, 2004

Rapid movement, how fast LCD refreshes to the next pixel (pixel lag) is something you want to find out for the model you are buying.

Brightness and contrast, compare them in store.

Signal cable shielding, Samsung in 2004 (and maybe more) cheated on the signal cables..resulting in CRTs and LCDs with ghosts (I am using one of them right now).

Mounting, some people want ot wall mount.

Thinness.

Swivel option, ability to auto project screen to verticle/portrait mode (this is usually a software situation, so also look up compatibility with Linux or Macintosh)

Actual pixel count, ensure you can read the text and window labels well enough at normal sizes. If you buy a high resolution one in order to maximize Excel real estate, it's cool, but it could be an eye strain.

Color correctness if you play with photoshop.

Quality of controls and ease of use (play with the controls, drivers).

Dead pixels (not much choice here, but if you can refrain from ending up with too many of them).

I like the Viewsonics but that's just me.

Li-fan Chen
Monday, March 22, 2004

I second viewsonic as a good brand, I have the 19" VG series, and it's great. Very bright and easy on the eyes.

SG
Monday, March 22, 2004

In addition to the above, DVI, or digital, LCD displays are generally superior to equivalent analog LCD displays.  Note that this raises the price somewhat and would also require you to get a new video card.  I would recommend it if you can afford it -- the digital output does not require you to tweak settings (e.g. display position) and produces clearer output.

Also ensure that your operating system supports some sort of sub-pixel font rendering (ClearType on Windows XP and some similar beast on OS X) otherwise you won't receive the most benefit that LCDs provide – clearer fonts.

MR
Monday, March 22, 2004

I have had both analog and digital LCD's.  The analog would show flickers... and digital never does.  (Laptops usually have a digital LCD.)

I use a Princeton DP800, and cannot recommend it highly enough.

Scot
Monday, March 22, 2004

Don't bother with an LCD unless you get one with a digital connector (and a video card with such a connector as well).  When you use an analog connector the signal has to be converted to digital and then you usually have to adjust the result until it looks right.  Many LCDs have an "auto" button to do this adjusting, but it never looks quite right.

Anonymous
Monday, March 22, 2004

"Dead pixels (not much choice here, but if you can refrain from ending up with too many of them)."

What exactly is a dead pixel?? You mean every LCD has *several* pixels that just don't work?

Is that something you just have to learn to live with?

I mean, I use a laptop, and I would become crazy If I had to look at one little black point in the middle of the screen all day.

.NET Developer
Monday, March 22, 2004

NEC is the best in LCD monitors. I saw a NEC next to Samsung and other brands and you could make out the quality difference. THe NEC shone.

It is the only LCD, nay the only electronic device where i can identify the maker just by looking at the product.

Karthik
Monday, March 22, 2004

I don't understand why everyone likes LCDs. It is very sensible to your eyes position.

For example, I'm looking at the windows desktop (default blue color). First, the color isn't homegeneous. The center is brighter than edges. Second, if you move your head 1 or 2 inches, the whole screen color/bright distribuition changes ! It is impossible you see a solid/unique aparent color everywhere.

I can't exchange a CRT for LCD because of this.

Ik
Monday, March 22, 2004

I think you have a bad LCD. I don't remember ever seeing anything like that on 14" and 15.4" laptop LCD's and my 18" LCD monitor.

Philo

Philo
Monday, March 22, 2004

I agree with the previous poster about NEC - I arrived at my job 5 1/2 years ago and my then manager had an NEC 1510 LCD that he had been using for a few months. It probably cost a small fortune in its day.

Now I am using his monitor and it still goes strong. We have taken it out of the office numerous times for computer shows and it still performs like new. As far as I can tell there are no dead pixels or any other faults. Apart from people its probably the oldest thing still alive in our office :-)

As for the Viewmasters at one of our sites - they have three of them. Two died within a year and needed repair. It may have just been a dud batch however.

Also I use a cheapy LCD Hyundai 15" at home and have no problems with it.

In all cases I haven't found any problems with uneven screen brightness or change in contrast if you move around in your seat a lot. The NEC may not give the "whiter than white" brightness of some new monitors, but I'm sure they have fixed that in the last few years.

PDF
Monday, March 22, 2004

"For example, I'm looking at the windows desktop (default blue color). First, the color isn't homegeneous. The center is brighter than edges. Second, if you move your head 1 or 2 inches, the whole screen color/bright distribuition changes ! It is impossible you see a solid/unique aparent color everywhere."

Stop looking at $100 LCD monitors, and you won't have these problems.

There are 6 LCD monitors in my house -- two attached to laptops, and four attached to two PCs. They all exhibit extremely good and even brightness, and all have extremely wide viewing angles (as near to 180 degrees as makes no difference).

Yet another plug for happy Viewsonic. We have two in the VA series, and one in the VX series. I STRONGLY recommend DVI over VGA. Plus, you get equivalent resolution on 17, 18, and 19" displays. Either pony up for a 20" to get 1600x1200, or save yourself so dough and get a 17".

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Monday, March 22, 2004

"near to 180 degrees as makes no difference"

Wow ! So, I think my experience is with a bad LCD. It is a ECS desknote 15".

I always thinked LCDs can't beat CRT in viewing angle.

Ik
Tuesday, March 23, 2004

I would recommend DVI too.
I have 2 LCDs with normal analog connection and had to replace videocards for better ones to get stable picture. CRT monitors are way more forgiving for a bit unstable signal.

WildTiger
Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Buying an analog LCD is just wasting your money.  The cost difference on a analog vs digital (DVI) LCD in the 17-19" range is less than $200 and when you are looking at a $600-$800 price point it is money well spent. 

I have a Samsung 191Plus at home and I really like it on the digital side.  It has both digital and analog inputs but the difference between the two is night and day.  The analog side shows a lot of flicker and just generally doesn't look as crisp as the digital side.  I am a bit of a graphics snob though, I write graphics drivers for a living. 

The only minor thing that I have a problem with is the refresh.  When I play Battlefield 1942 (a first person shooter Doom/Quake type game) there are some darker scenes that are just brutal because the LCD can't refresh fast enough so you get some weird ghost-like trails following the motion on the screen.  I don't find it to be a really, really big deal but it is an issue to be aware of.  I think LCDs will have a hard time beating CRTs in that respect.

Ray
Tuesday, March 23, 2004

I have an analog-input LCD monitor and am very happy with it.  Truthfully, I can't tell the difference between VGA and DVI input, and I've tried.  I really have.  What really matters is that you get a monitor that your eyes are happy with.  For a lot of people, the size of the viewing angle makes a big deal.

Junkster
Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Dead pixels are a thing of the past: if you have *any* out of the box, return it.  I bought two Dell 18" displays this past summer (DVI), and neither of them have any dead pixels.  I also highly recommend digital: what's the point of converting digital -> analog -> digital when you can go direct?  As a bonus, a number of newer DVD players, and other high-end video equipment have DVI output.

Don't be cheap when it comes to displays.  They are the single most important factor for comfort and health when you sit in front of them 8+ hours a day.

joev
Tuesday, March 23, 2004

"In spite of wearing glasses, my eyes get very tired after 8 hours of work on the computer."

Why will staring at an LCD monitor for eight hours cause less eye-strain than a CRT?

Is the monitor the problem or the long hours of computer work?

DaveF
Tuesday, March 23, 2004

"Why will staring at an LCD monitor for eight hours cause less eye-strain than a CRT?"

Well, nobody should stare at anything 8 hours straight. However, LCD causes lowered eye strain vs. CRT in much the same way that incandescents offer lowered eye strain vs. those nasty 1970s flickering tube lights.

Because of the natural decay of an LCD, the image appears much more stable to the eye than the constantly refreshing CRT. Although this is a downside in gaming, this is a great benefit for everything else.

You may not be able to directly see that flickering of the CRT, but believe me, it's there. When I first switched from CRTs to LCDs, my regular (but usually minor) headaches disappeared almost immediately.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Tuesday, March 23, 2004

You are unlikely to notice one dead pixel if its black. I have one on my laptop and its red, but I only notice it on an all black or all blue screen.

Monitor manufacturers used to refuse to replace unless you had more than a certian number of dead pixels, anything from four to twenty. A few months back companies started guaranteeing zero dead pixels on the top end of their range. Cynics suggested the dead pixels all migraged to the cheaper monitors :)

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, March 23, 2004

"what's the point of converting digital -> analog -> digital when you can go direct"

The point is generally that (1) you probably won't be able to tell the difference (I can't), (2) analog is somewhat cheaper, and some video cards don't have DVI outputs.

Junkster
Tuesday, March 23, 2004

The quality on an analogue LCD monitor can depend on the video card. My LCD monitor doesn't look as nice with my current card (Geforce2) as it did with the old one (PowerVR Kyro). And on both cards it looks better at 60Hz than at 75Hz, presumably because the card's RAMDAC (??) is slightly less stressed.

If you can stretch to a DVI one, that would probably be better. I've had to muck about on mine to get the picture properly sharp. The autodetect works passably, but unless you have something like a 50% black/white pixel background stretching over the entire screen it doesn't give best results.

Insert half smiley here.
Tuesday, March 23, 2004

I'm running a cheap 17" GEM LCD monitor at home. Got it for $299 after rebate. It's analog only, but that actually worked out pretty well for me, since I run my monitor through a KVM switch, and only one of the machines on the switch even had DVI output as an option.

I love the thing. Easily at least as good as my old CRT, takes lots less space, yadda yadda yadda.

As far as gaming goes, I've played Halo on it, and it looks fine to me. I'm not a total grognard, but if there was something seriously bad about the picture I'm sure I would have noticed.

Chris Tavares
Tuesday, March 23, 2004

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