The year is 2011 and hopefully, everyone today is using LCD displays instead of CRT monitors. If you haven’t already made the move, you should know that there are a whole bunch of advantages to using a flat panel display. Some of these are space saving, power saving and crisper image quality. If you've already bought an LCD display several years back, you should know that there are better displays out today. Of course, there are a bunch of things that you need to keep in mind before you decide to splurge on an LCD display and that’s exactly what we’re going to run through in this buying guide.
Correct size monitor
It’s important to judge what sized display is perfect for your PC. This depends a lot on how far you sit from your screen. A 22-inch display should be a bare minimum, if you like watching movies and playing games on your PC. Most 22-inch displays support 1920×1080 resolutions as do 24-inch displays.
Size and resolution should be chosen based on needs
The density of a 24-inch is slightly lower than a 22-inch display. If you sit really close to your display, a 22-inch will do. If you sit say two feet away from the display, a 24-inch would make better sense. The pixel pitch on the 24-inch is lower than it is on the 22-inch of the same resolution.
Most of the screens that we’ve been seeing over the years are all based on TN panels. TN panels offer average colour reproduction in comparison to MVA and IPS panels and their variants. If you have the option, go for the IPS or MVA panel display if the price difference is small. You’ll notice slightly vibrant colours and gradients than you normally would with a TN panel. They also have better viewing angles. There was a lull period where manufacturers focussed on making TN panels, but in recent times, MVA and IPS panels have returned, so it’s worth looking out for them.
Majority of the LCD panels sold today are in the 16:9 aspect ratio. It wasn’t always like this. Widescreen displays were built on 16:10 panels. For example, 1920 x 1080 is 16:9, whereas 24-inch panels in the past with 16:10 panels supported resolutions of 1920×1200. The 16:10 offered slightly more vertical viewing area, which was handy while browsing long web pages. While many claim that 16:9 offers the optimum resolution for 16:9, most movies produced are available in very skewed resolutions. This means those HD movies will still not fit accurately on a 16:9 display. If you’re not particular about the aspect ratio, a 16:10 display is a better bet. Of course, finding these models is a bit of a problem.
If you’re spending more than Rs. 11,000 on a 24-inch display, you might want to keep in mind connectivity options. D-Sub and DVI ports are a given, but look for displays that have HDMI ports as well. HDMI is commonly used by media players, gaming consoles and even HD DTH set top boxes, as well.
Ample connection options on a high-end display
With HDMI ports, you’ll be able to use the display as a mini TV, as well. Some of the slightly expensive monitors in the Rs. 15,000 range come with built-in TV tuner capability, which means you can connect Composite, Component and in some cases RCA cables to it.
TN panels are known for low response times and there was a noticeable difference in early displays. Advancements have reduced the response times drastically, so you can safely go out and buy a MVA or IPS panel without worrying too much about it. We’ve been reviewing a few of these panels and there’s quite literally, no noticeable difference between the panels. Also, do not buy into the 1ms and 2ms response times advertised. There’s no difference that a user will notice between a 1ms and a 5ms display.
Some displays come with built-in speakers. While the speakers are not really great for watching movies, they’re decent enough for some light gaming and music listening.
A speaker unit built into the monitor
If you don’t have a set of desktop speakers, it might be worth spending a couple of hundred rupees more on these displays.
Manufacturers will try and sell LED-backlit displays as LED monitors. The displays being sold today are all LED-backlit displays, and not LED monitors. However, the technology does offer marginally better contrast ratio than traditional CCFL backlighting. Don’t pay a whole lot more specifically for LED-backlit displays.
For those users who have few or no USB ports at the front of their cabinets, or if their cabinets aren’t easily accessible, plugging in USB devices can be a pain. A USB hub built into the monitor comes handy. Some of the monitors have between two and four USB ports. Look for these features and you might even find displays with a headphone and audio jack built into the monitors.
This might be one of the factors least considered by users. Some of the stands on monitors offer swivel functionality, which lets you setup the monitor in a vertical layout.
Portrait layout offers better usability while viewing web pages
This is great for browsing web pages as compared to the horizontal layout. There are also some other benefits. These stands allow height adjustment and rotation, which means you don’t have to bother raising the monitor by shoving a few books under the display.
While the ultimate way of choosing a monitor would be actually trying it out at a shop, it’s not really possible except in some malls. Armed with this information, buying a new display should be a breeze.