LCD Monitor Buyer’s Guide
Apart from the obvious stylish and space-saving appeal of an LCD screen, many users are will to pay extra for LCD monitors as there is no screen flicker; the brightness is better than on a CRT monitor; image clarity is superior and it requires a lower power consumption. In this expert guide the different types of LCD monitors are explained as well as the features you can expect from LCD monitors within the different price ranges.
Available types of LCD monitors
The best way to determine what type of LCD monitor to purchase is to look at the different types of panel technologies and determine which best suits your requirements.
- TN Film
Twisted nematic and film (TN film) monitors are great for gamers as they offer excellent response times. These monitors are relatively inexpensive and are the only ones available as 22” widescreen monitors. Unfortunately their downfall is their color reproduction as TN panels are only 6-bit and can only achieve the full 16.7 million colors available in 8-bit panels using the dithering technique.
- IPS Panel
In plane switching (IPS) panels offer the best image quality; color accuracy and viewing angles which make them ideal in organizations, like magazine publishing, where accurate color reproduction is essential. There are several types of IPS panels: S-IPS; H-IPS; Enhanced S-IPS and Advanced Super IPS (AS-IPS). These types of monitors are generally quite expensive and offer slower response rates than TN Film panels making them less popular with gamers.
- VA Panel
Vertical alignment (VA) panels offer better image quality and viewing angles than TN film panels, but have slower response times as TN film or S-IPS panels. The advantage of VA panels is that the contrast ratios are higher than the other panel types and they are cheaper than IPS panel monitors. There are several types of VA panels available in the consumer market including: Multi-Domain Vertical Alignment (MVA); Patterned Vertical Alignment (PVA), and the more advanced Premium MVA (P-MVA); Super MVA (S-MVA); Advanced MVA (AMVA) and Super PVA (S-PVA).
The following specifications are important to consider during the LCD monitor review and selection process.
- Panel type
Each panel type – TN film; IPS and VA, offer different attributes which appeal to particular type of consumers. Decide what attributes are most important to you, whether it be budget; response time or color reproduction and limit your selection to that particular panel type.
- Screen size
There are many different screen sizes available ranging from 15 inch to greater than 24 inch. It stands to reason that the larger the screen, the higher the price so if budget is a concern and you want a decent sized screen then look at a 19 or 20 inch screen as they are quite affordable these days.
The LCD monitor specification will display the resolution as a figure like 1920 x 1200. This indicates the physical number of horizontal and vertical pixels within the LCD display matrix.
- Response time
Gamers and others who require a rapid response time generally purchase LCD monitors which use TN film panel technology, however different makes of monitors will offer slight variances in response times.
- Contrast ratio
A high contrast ratio means that blacks will appear deeper and whites will appear brighter on the screen. Again the contrast ratio will vary between the different makes and types of LCD monitors due to the different light technology used behind the panels.
Entry level budget
LCD monitors are not cheap; however it is possible to purchase an entry level monitor for as little as $100 to $200.
The ViewSonic VA1926W is a good entry level LCD monitor. This 19 inch flat panel display offers a maximum resolution of 1440 x 900 and has a 5ms response time. It has a contrast ratio of 700:1 and has both a DVI and VGA port for input. Priced at around $170, this affordable LCD monitor has been well received with an overall expert rating of 80%. Read the expert reviews on this monitor at www.testseek.com.
Almost all LCD monitors in the entry level budget range are TN film. They offer good value for money but don’t expect the fastest response time or the best color reproduction.
A wider variety of LCD monitors is available for consumers willing to spend up to $350. Here you can expect better quality images; viewing angles and response times.
The Samsung T220 is a great monitor with excellent response time and image quality is superb. Priced at around $280, this 22” LCD monitor has a maximum resolution of 1680 x 1050, offers a 2ms response time and is great for gamers. It has received a very good average score of 72% from expert reviews, refer to www.testseek.com.
If money is no object, it is possible to get an ultra-wide screen which offers additional features and superior image quality not obtainable in the lower budget ranges.
The HP DreamColor LP2480x 24 inch, 30-bit LCD technology, offering superior image quality with a 1920 x 1200 resolution. Its DisplayPort 1.1 technology ensures superior resolution; color depths and refresh rates. The advanced features like HDMI 1.3; DVI-I inputs and a 1000:1 contract make it a rather expensive LCD monitor, priced over $2000. To read more expert reviews on this amazing LCD screen, refer to www.testseek.com.
The wide variety of LCD monitors available can make shopping around for one a confusing task. Ensure that you stick to your budget range, have a good idea of what features are important to you and look at expert reviews like those available at www.testseek.com and to compare like for like products. This should make your selection process easier.
Disclaimer: This guide was written in late 2008 and the specific product recommendations may be outdated. However the basic discussions in this buyer's guide may still be of great value.
Written by; TestSeek staff