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Which one is better for me, CRT or LCD?
With the stylish and spacing-saving design, an LCD monitor can easily impress anyone who has a bulky CRT monitor that takes half of the desk space. And with the big price drop during the past months, they are no longer too expensive to buy. But there is still something you need to know before you switch to LCD. Comparing with the traditional CRT monitor, the flat-panel LCD Monitor:
- Stylish and space-saving
- Easy on eyes, less radiation
- +2 inch actual view area than same-size CRTs (15" LCD = 17" CRT, 17" LCD = 19" CRT, etc)
- Narrower view angle (screen appears darker and less detailed when you move away from the center)
- Longer response time (slight ghosting on fast-moving images)
- Fixed-size pixels good only for a specific resolution (known as native resolution), other resolutions looks a bit worse inevitably.
So if you need to use more than 1 desktop resolutions or usually use applications that requires fast response (such as real-time gaming, video editing, animation), stick with your CRT.
Things to consider when buying a flat-panel LCD Monitor
Size, native resolution and Dot Pitch:
As mentioned above, unlike CRT monitors, LCD monitors has fixed size pixels. The Dot Pitch factor indicates the pixel size and the native resolution factor indicates the number of pixels on the screen. So basicly Size = resolution x Dot Pitch.
Which size is the best value? 17 inch! The current average price on a 15 inch LCD monitor (normally with XGA resolution of 1024x768) is about $300, and for around $100 more, you can get a 17 inch one (SXGA, 1280x1024). But with this extra $100, you get 30% more viewing area, smoother and easier to read text and images.
Resolution alone determines the image quality. Usually with normal Dot Pitch, 15-inch LCD has a 1024 x 768 resolution, and 17 inch LCD has 1280 x 1024.
With smaller Dot Pitch (pixel size), same number of pixels may be fit in a smaller-size screen. A 15-inch LCD with less Dot Pitch can show the same details as a 17 inch LCD if they have the same native resolution, but of course, the latter is easier on eyes because things look bigger.
The larger, the better, and the greater the resolution. But since LCD monitors tends to have larger usable areas than CRT monitors, you don't really need to empty your pockets to pay for the large and expensive models on the market.
Also, make sure there is not too much distortion when the LCD monitor works on non-native resolutions if you have the chance to see the product before you buy.
This factor defines the angle range that you can view the screen without the darken effects. Look for at least 100 degrees vertical and 120 degrees horizontal.
Pixel Response time:
For a performance comparable to that of CRT, go for a number less than 25ms. 16ms is fit for even gamers, and 30ms is the bottom line for even just watching video.
Contrast Ratio, Brightness, Color deepth:
These factors define the contrast, brightness and variation of colors you can see on the screen. The bigger, the better. Try at least 300-to-1 for contrast ratio (450:1 is good), 230 nits (300 is good) for brightness and 24bit color for true color.
There is 2 types of video inputs for monitors, digital and analog. Most monitors on the market only accept analog inputs though a analog VGA connection. LCD monitors with DVI-D connectors are the latest trend. For the compatibility, most of these new models also has a analog VGA connector or can accept both types of signals from a single DVI-I connector.
If you have a graphics card with digital output, definitely try a LCD monitor with digital input, it avoids the 2 unnecessary D/A, A/D conversions and produces better quality outputs.
Even if you don't have a digital-output graphics card now, buy a dual-interface model and get ready for the future -- as an expensive and durable device, it is very likely that your LCD monitor will outlive your current desktop.
Other Multimedia extras:
Speakers, USB ports, Microphone and headphone jacks, positioning options (wall-mounting accessories, pivoting frame for landscape/portrait orientation, arms to adjust height, angle, etc).
LCD monitors with built-in TV Tuner and S-Video inputs (mostly a remote control too) are usually called LCD TVs. They allow you to view both computer applications and television program with one device.
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