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Gadgets & Home Improvement

Shooting for a BIG monitor

Feast your eyes on monitors which are at least 23 inches - they are more affordable than before and offer many advantages over laptop screens
The Straits Times - October 12, 2011
By: Trevor Tan
| More
Shooting for a BIG monitor ST ILLUSTRATION: TAY CHERN HUI

Sales of monitors here are still on the rise, even though consumers here are buying more laptops than desktop PCs.

Three major monitor vendors, Asus, Viewsonic and Philips, told Digital Life that sales of their monitors are growing.

IT distributor Convergent Systems said sales of its Philips monitors have increased 16 per cent this year compared to last year.

'More executives are using laptops in the office, but when they see the large 24-inch monitors going for under $300, they cannot resist,' said Mr Michael Tan, a product manager at Convergent.

Almost eight out of 10 new PCs sold here are laptops and netbooks, according to research firm Gartner.

Experts say monitors are still popular because they provide better ergonomics and more viewing real estate for the eyes.

Some consumers also want to view multiple screens at the same time and need a second screen to extend the view, said Ms Lillian Tay, Gartner's Principal Analyst for Consumer Technology.

Laptop screens cannot be too big or they will lose their portability.

For avid gamers, such as MsShann Ng, 29, fast response time in their monitors is required to prevent motion blurring or ghosting, in geek speak.

Bigger screens are also important for a better view of the enemy.

'Well, you can't find a 27-inch laptop right?' asks Ms Ng.

Creative professionals, such as artists and photographers, prefer to use a monitor because of the colour accuracy.

Mr Mike Smith, a freelance photographer and writer, only edits his photos on his desktop monitor.

'I trust the colours of the monitor more and the image is also much bigger, letting me see more detail,' Mr Smith said.

Monitors offer the same upright viewing position whereas laptops open up to different angles every time they are used. Having the same position is important to get consistency when viewing colours on the screen.

In addition, there are more features in today's monitors for the average consumer. For example, the newer light-emitting diode (LED) monitors require less power to emit the same brightness.

Some newer monitors even support stereoscopic 3-D playback and come with 3-D glasses.

Monitor prices are also falling. Two years ago, you could get only a 19-inch non-LED monitor for about $250. Now, you can get a 23-inch LED monitor for around the same price.

Know your terms

Panel Type: Liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors produce images by using liquid crystals lit by cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFL).

Lately, light-emitting diodes (LED) have been used instead of CCFL. LEDs produce better contrast and use less power, but these monitors also cost more.

Monitors mostly use Twisted Nematic (TN) technology. It is cheaper but limits the viewing angle. More expensive monitors use in-plane switching (IPS) technology to improve viewing angle and colour reproduction.

Resolution: This refers to the number of pixels in the width and height of a monitor. So 1,024 x 768 means 1,024 pixels in width and 768 pixels in height.

Brightness: Or luminance. The amount of light emitted from a particular area of a screen measured in candela per square metre (cd/m2).

Contrast ratio: It is more correct to term this 'static contrast ratio'. It is the ratio of the luminance of the brightest colour (white) to that of the darkest colour (black) at a given point in time. The higher the contrast ratio, the wider the colour range.

Pixel pitch: This is the distance between two pixels of the same colour in a display measured in millimetres (mm). The smaller the pixel pitch, the sharper the display.

Viewing angle: Measured in degrees from one side of the display to the other, this is the maximum angle at which a display can be viewed without loss of colour, contrast or clarity.

Response time: The amount of time in milliseconds (ms) it takes for a pixel to change from one colour to another and back again.

The faster it is, the faster the screen can be refreshed, reducing the chance of motion blurring.

Note that grey-to-grey response time is the time taken when changing from one shade of grey to another. This is much faster than the response time from black to white to black.

Video input: This refers to the type of connection between the monitor and your laptop or desktop computer. Older monitors use VGA (also known as D-Sub) connection, while current monitors use the digital visual interface (DVI) connection. Manufacturers are also adding HDMI connection as well. Check your graphics card to see which type of connection is supported.

 

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