Do you spend a lot of time in front of your computer? Do you create your own videos or edit photographs? Or are your work days filled with online research and word processing? Whether youre browsing the Web, laying out your companys product catalog, or making an instructional video, your monitor is one of your most important tools.
A good monitor can reduce eye strain, making it easier for you to spend time working. It can help you see the details of photographs, displaying them at their intended resolutions. It can display your HD (high-definition) videos. In this article, we tell you what to look for in a monitor.
The vast majority of flat screen monitors are LCDs. Every LCD monitor needs a light source to make the LCD visible. The old way of doing this was with CCFL (cold-cathode fluorescent lamp); however, LED (light-emitting diode) backlight is becoming more widely available.
A monitor with an LED backlight is brighter, sharper, and uses less energy than CCFL LCD monitors. Because LED backlight monitors use less energy, they will also save you money on your electric bill. They can also be built thinner than the older LCD monitors, so almost all LED backlight monitors will have a slim, space-saving design.
All LCD monitors are designed to display a specific resolution. This is the monitors native resolution (sometimes also called the recommended or true resolution). Any display resolution higher or lower than the native resolution has to be scaled to fit the screen, leading to possible image distortion. Higher native resolution is better; however, this is often dependent on screen size. Larger screens usually have higher native resolution. For instance, 1,920 x 1,080 is common for 22- to 24-inch monitors, while 19-inch monitors are usually 1,600 x 900.
The aspect ratio is the ratio of width compared to the height of a display area. For example, a monitor with a native resolution of 1,600 x 900 or 1,920 x 1,080 has an aspect ratio of 16:9, while a monitor with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,200 has an aspect ratio of 16:10.
Although 16:9 is the prevailing standard, some monitors are still 16:10. A 16:10 aspect ratio will display HD video with a black band at the top and bottom of the screen; a 16:9 aspect ratio will display HD video without the black bands.
The response time is a measure of how quickly a pixel can change colors, which is important for any video or animation playback. The industry norm is around 5ms. Thats more than adequate for most uses, but the faster the better.
Contrast ratio is a measure of the distinction between white and black levels. The higher this is the better. There are a variety of ways manufacturers measure contrast ratio, and many manufacturers use their own methods, so use contrast ratio as a guide when choosing a monitor, but dont treat it as the determining factor.
Screen size is important, of course. The larger the viewable area, the more windows you can have open, and the easier it will be for you to work.
Some monitors have nice ergonomic features, such as tilt and height adjustments; others are very static, with little or no adjustability. Some monitors come with speakers, some have HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) or USB ports, and some even have built-in TV tuners. Depending on how you use your monitor, some of these extra features might be very valuable, making the difference between buying one monitor or the other. Larger screen sizes usually separate high-end monitors from entry-level and midrange monitors, but high-end monitors will also have better response rates, typically less than 5ms; a variety of I/O (input/output) options, particularly HDMI ports; and many other nice-to-have features, such as a wide range of height and tilt adjustments or the built-in TV tuner. If youre looking for an entry level or midrange monitor, the following monitors are good choices.
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