Flat Panel Display Benefits and Losses

When shopping a computer monitor, the best advice to give is to make choice in favour of flat panels. It makes sense - flat panels can outlast two or three PCs. Don't think you can't afford it. A 17-in. flat panel costs only about $100 more than a high-quality 19-in. television-style CRT monitor. So, it makes no sense to buy a CRT monitor in most cases. There are currently two types of flat panel displays to your choice: LCD (which is primarily used in computing applications) and the plasma display (mostly used for large-screen televisions or public displays).

Just as personal and notebook computers were the focal point of display development in the past two decades, so the flat panel display and microdisplay television market has become the driver for design and manufacturing changes during the current decade. Makers of liquid-crystal displays have invested billions in next-generation fabs and processes. Customers who want the very cheapest displays should still obtain CRT-type units, as these can be had for well under $100. But customers who need to save space and desire a more modern-looking office environment will want flat panel displays. It's also quite likely that these customers won't want to spend a fortune on new displays. So if you need to save space and desire a more modern-looking office environment flat panel displays is to be the best option.

Another factor is that LCD displays are generally easier on the eyes of the user than a CRT because it doesn't constantly refresh the image. One more benefit of the LCD monitor is that it's possible to use much larger screen sizes. A 21-inch CRT monitor will take up most of a desk while an equivalent LCD will only take up the size of the screen, as there's no large back to accommodate. CRT monitors also tend to top out at 21-inch while it's possible to source a 30-inch LCD display from a number of vendors.

The advantages of a larger flat panel display are clear. Bigger is better when choosing a display. The price difference between similar 15-in. and 17-in. units can be as little as $50. Prices for typical 17-in. displays range from $350 to around $500, depending on features. You may want even bigger than 17-in. If it's a case, you shoul remember when you go from 17 to 19 inches you get 35 percent more screen area than a 17-inch panel, but you get larger pixels instead of more. Because many 19-inch monitors have the same SXGA resolution as 17-inch monitors do. To get the full benefit of the extra display area, you need more pixels. A 19- or 20-inch panel with 1,600- by 1,200-pixel resolution (UXGA) gives you 46 percent more pixels which are about 5 percent smaller than a 17-inch SXGA panel's, that means that the picture will be smoother.

The reverse of the medal is that many LCD monitors have viewing-angle limitations that can cause the brightness or even the hue of a color to change as your point of view changes. If you are processing high-end graphics or work with video, a CRT may be a much better purchase. And even if the panel has excellent viewing-angle performance, the color gamut is typically not a match for a quality CRT's. So it is also possible that you will not buy an LCD monitor at all.

For video applications or extreme gaming a CRT picture is a better choice too. All LCDs show some smearing when compared with CRTs. Even while panels with 12-ms and 16-ms pixel response rates tend to show less smearing than ones with slower rates, the smearing is still noticeable compared with CRTs. It takes liquid crystal molecules more time to  change their position than to change a stream of electrons that strike the screen's phosphors in a CRT.

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