|Article Author : Quadophile
Date : 23rd May 2004
Many of us have been toying with the idea of switching to LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) monitors completely but a couple of drawbacks of LCD technology have always come in the way as a hurdle. One being its response time and the other being colour purity. The first is of utmost importance to the gamer and the second to those who work on photo editing software. The gamer needs the monitor to have very fast response time otherwise ghosting effects or in other words trailing effects become evident, which until yesterday had plagued the LCD monitors. Not anymore.
Most of the manufacturers have come up with very fast response times and gamers can now consider buying an LCD monitor. As far as photo editing goes, there are some of us who still have to rely on the CRT monitors since the ultimate colour purity that the CRT offers for editing colours cannot be had in an LCD monitor. This colour purity issue may have already been addressed in the manufacturer’s labs but a commercially viable product which an average Joe can afford has not yet hit the market. However if you are a gamer and were waiting for the technology to take off, read on!
The gamers needs have been adequately addressed as the LCD monitors available in the market have very fast response times – as low as 12 ms and getting better. These response times are fast enough to even satisfy die hard gamers who want the best and are not willing to compromise.
Important Points to consider when choosing an LCD Monitor
There are many other aspects which differentiate the two technologies so let’s take a peek and see what one must consider when shopping for an LCD monitor and which type has an advantage over the other.
Aesthetics: LCD monitors are aesthetically very pleasing to the eye being slim and stylish. There is no comparison with the CRT here. The current breed of LCD monitors has excellent colour combinations, and neat looking control panels. The weight of the LCD monitors is roughly 6-8 lbs for 15 inch models and slightly more for the 17 inch ones. Since it is very light it can be handled very comfortably even by a lady. Some manufacturers have come up with an outboard power supply thus reducing the thickness of the panel which now can be had at less than an inch!
Angle of view: Although the CRT monitors lead the way in this department, the viewing angle on LCD monitors is getting wider and wider and current models offer over 160 degrees. For all practical purposes that is more than sufficient for any user. Therefore the angle of view is not a major concern anymore as it used to be when LCD monitors initially emerged in the marketplace.
Colour Purity: This is where the CRT monitors take a clear advantage. However the best LCD monitors are very good and for an average user the difference is hardly noticeable in side by side comparison. The difference can vary from slight to significant depending on the quality of the LCD monitor used in comparison.
Contrast: Traditionally the CRT monitors always had better contrast and LCD monitors were lagging behind. Recently some of the best LCD monitors have come very close and according to some they match what the CRT is capable of in terms of contrast. This aspect of the monitor helps in correct tonal characteristics in low light situations. A high contrast monitor is likely to produce black as black rather than dark grey. High contrast is most important for gaming and movie playback.
Dead Pixels: What are Dead Pixels? Dead Pixels are simply pixels on the LCD monitors that do not function. Dead Pixels are not repairable hence they stay there for good. Dead Pixels can easily be identified in programs with white background; you can spot them in the same place every time you switch on your system. In the early days the issue of dead pixels on LCD monitors was a big one confronting most of the manufacturers, however, the manufacturing practices have greatly improved over time and dead pixel issue is very much controlled based on the experience gained. Still many manufacturers themselves are confused as to the Warranty Policies they need to enact for replacement of those monitors with dead pixels. The top manufacturers have no problem replacing the monitor within the warranty period. So when shopping for an LCD monitor check the dead pixel policy indicated in the warranty. Also check for dead pixels once you install it in your system. If you spot a dead pixel within the warranty period get a replacement.
Energy Requirements: LCD monitors are extremely economical when it comes to power consumption. Their consumption is in the region of 25 -50 watts compared to CRT which consume like 60-80 watts for a 15 inch model to almost 70 to 150 for 17 and 19 inch models.
Image Brightness: LCD Monitors win hands down in this department. They offer almost twice the brightness compared to the CRT monitor. If you use the system in a brightly lit room or with plenty of sunshine coming through the window LCD is the best choice.
Magnetic Interference: Again the CRT looses out in this department too. LCD monitors are not affected by the magnetic interference at all. Many of the LCD monitors come with stereo speakers built-in and need not be shielded for magnetic interference. Shielding the speakers makes them very costly, thus the savings can be either passed on to the consumer or spent by manufacturer elsewhere in a more effective way.
Response Time: As mentioned in the beginning of this article the response time of the LCD monitor is crucial for the gamers and movie buffs. Response time refers to updating of the pixel colours. Ghosting or trailing effects start to become evident when the response time slows down to 20 ms. One should definitely look for monitors offering 16ms or even 12 ms response time. We may even see monitors in near future with response times in single digits!
Screen Flicker: One of the most annoying things on the CRT monitor which we all had to suffer was the flickering effect, in other words the low refresh rates. This contributed towards headaches which users experienced on a daily basis. This aspect was also responsible for lower productivity. CRT does not have an advantage when it comes to the flickering effect. By default windows always sets the refresh rate at 60 Hz, until you install your monitor and it detects the configuration file and sets the refresh rate based on factory setting of the monitor in question. The VESA standard states that the minimum refresh rate to avoid eye strain is 72 Hz. Some of the good CRT monitors can go much higher. Ideally a refresh rate of 85 Hz should be OK for most people using 17 inch monitors. Due to difference in technology the LCD Monitors are clear winners as refresh rate is not an issue with them. Normally you get a choice of two different refresh rates on the LCD monitor but it is best to go with the recommendations of the manufacturer.
A quality LCD monitor nowadays is very much affordable, you certainly get your moneys worth, unlike a couple of years back when the prices were still on the higher side and the quality was nothing to write home about.
The CRT was king in all the departments. Maybe Not anymore!
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