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Shopping for a New Monitor? 653

Cecil asks: "Well, I've looked through the reviews and found several good displays. The problem is that quality can vary drastically from unit to unit. Just because the reviewer got a good screen doesn't mean you will. A lot of people say that it's a bad idea to buy a display device sight-unseen and from experience I have to agree. There are the big chain stores that will have monitors on display, but they will typically only have the 'value' models. So, what is your monitor buying process? What do you do to make sure you get the sort of high-quality display that'll last you through the next couple hardware upgrades?"
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Shopping for a New Monitor?

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  • Go to lan parties (Score:3, Informative)

    by IvyMike ( 178408 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @11:14PM (#5707607)

    Ok, it might not be a good general solution, but that's where I saw the totally boss Samsung 171P, and thus that was the next monitor I bought.

    And yes, I did just use the phrase "totally boss". Deal with it.

    • And yes, I did just use the phrase "totally boss". Deal with it.

      It's all good, even Anakin Skywalker uses the phrase. [pixelred.com]
    • Re:Go to lan parties (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sad Loser ( 625938 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @12:18AM (#5708033)

      LAN parties are good, you should always see a sample monitor before buying. Never buy on spec alone.
      For LCDs, take a laptop to the showroom, and insist on testing it there for dead pixels. I use simple HTML and opera's full screen function to test a completely black screen (for stuck pixels) and a completely white screen (for dead pixels).

      Reject any with any dud pixels (stuck is worse than dead). They can sell them to someone else who doesn't care/ is less informed.
      Do not accept any crap about that 1-2 dead pixels are acceptable. They are not acceptable to you.
  • by dirkdidit ( 550955 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @11:14PM (#5707615) Homepage
    Well you didn't really mention your price range but if you're looking for a good monitor that will last, expect to pay atleast $250. I made the mistake of buying a monitor (KDS) from a major nationwide retailer (Wal-Mart) only to have it crap out on me 7 months later, one month after the warranty expired.

    That brings me to another good point, make sure the monitor has a good warranty so that if something does happen to it, you can get it fixed for next to nothing.
    • $250? HAHAHAHA.

      I spent around $US900 equivalent for my monitor in 1997, and I'm still using it. Sure, it's gotten a bit darker, but otherwise it's just as good as the day I hooked it up.

      Really, a decent monitor should outlast any other component in your system.
    • I also bought two KDS 19" from WalMart.

      They were ~420 for the both of them. One was extremely blurry. I returned it. Been using them and loveing them for about 8 months now.

      I suppose you could pull a little scamage on them and KDS would bite the bullet - just go up there buy a new one, then take the crappped out one back and say "THIS THING DOESN'T WORK, I WANT MY MONEY BACK."

      You aren't technically lying because you didn't say you bought the defective unit 7 months ago. =p

      Just an idea.

      • Funny you mention that as I had one of my friend's do that with his 17" KDS LCD screen that went out after only 2 months. They took it back even without the box, though they seemed a bit suspicious.(This was at Wal-Mart IIRC)

        From my experience, KDS doesn't seem to make the most reliable monitors but on the rare occaision that you get one that works, they work great. Especially for the cost.
    • Cost isn't always a good indication. I bought an overpriced MAG monitor, only to have it start crapping out before the warranty ran out, then start working fine again. I figured it was a waste to spend a foutune to ship it to them only to have it returned saying that they could find no problem. Sure enough, a month after the warranty died, so did the monitor.

      Since then I've run into several other people who have had early deaths of MAG monitors, one good friend lost three before he learned. He did send in

    • by 2short ( 466733 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @01:23AM (#5708303)

      I'm a C++ guy, so naturally lot's of people ask me what kind of computer they should get :) I alternate between my smart aleck answer ("The one the IT guy puts on your desk") and my two tidbits of actual advice:
      1. Don't buy a Compaq.
      2. Whatever your price range, drop it a little, and put the extra into the monitor. A nice monitor will improve your computing experience more than anything else. Particularly in a year or two when the difference between the CPU you get and the next one up or down seems entirely trivial.

      And if you didn't mention your price range on purpose, because it's not a major issue, one word: Trinitron.
      • Agreed. (Score:3, Informative)

        by kikta ( 200092 )
        I couldn't agree more. I was thinking about upgrading several major parts of my system. Instead, I bought a 19-inch LCD (ViewSonic VG191). It was the best upgrade I have ever done. More than anything else, it has changed my mindset towards my system (went from "love" to "worship"). A good and large LCD monitor, coupled with a nice video card that does DVI, is beautiful and will enhance everything you do. My subsequent upgrade, going from an AMD T-bird 1200 to a XP 2100+ was disappointing when compared to th
    • Blame Wal-Mart, not KDS. I've found their Visual Sensations line to be absolutely fantastic value for the money, and I'd buy another 19incher without hesitation. I don't know what's with that 6 month warranty you had, mine came with a full 2 year no-charge warranty, just pay one-way shipping.
    • Funny you guys say Wal Mart.

      When my friend and I lived in Germany, he bought a generic 19". It worked fine until he misspelt NVIDIA in the X config file. blew the monitor.

      So we went back to the store to get a new one. He only had that monitor for a few days. The store said "contact the maker" and showed us to the door. (This is not uncommon in Germany)

      He was pissed. So we saw Wal Mart across the street (Wal Mart bought out the German store Werthauf back in '98 or '99) We walked in and said that we
  • by dtolton ( 162216 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @11:15PM (#5707620) Homepage
    Being a programmer I spend a lot of time staring at the screen. As a
    result I spend a lot of time making sure I have the proper setup.
    The monitor is typically the most expensive single component on any
    computer setup I get. However it also has the most longevity, so
    it's very imporant to get it right.

    My favorite monitors are the View Sonic series. It's possible there
    are better monitors out there, but I am incredibly hesitant to switch
    from a brand that I know very well and trust implicitly. I now own
    my seventh ViewSonic (multiple computers) and I've had a good
    experience every time except once. On the most recent setup I have
    two computers on a monitor switch, on one of the computers the
    letters were slightly blurry. It was very apparent because the
    letters were crisp on the other computer. Getting a new video card
    fixed the problem.

    In short here is my advice:

    - Buy a brand well known for quality
    - Buy from a store with a good reputation
    - Go for good resolution and high refresh rate
    - Pick a video card that is compatible with your monitor
    - Talk extensively with people who have experience with the brand
    you are considering.
    • by ryanvm ( 247662 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @11:35PM (#5707764)
      Out of curiousity, do you truncate all your lines to 80 characters because you have a 15" monitor? ;-)
    • Buying a monitor.

      If you're worried about unit to unit variance, discuss, and if you feel it's necessary, get in writing, that your shop will let you bring the unit back if you're not happy. Don't buy from the elcheapo that is on the TV, buy from somewhere you or your friends have done good business before.

      I like the reviews (and the classifieds) from this magazine: australian pc magazine. They have good list of what to look for and why.

      Benq TFT review [apcmag.com]

      I bought a Sony 17" LCD SDM S71R. It has no
  • by daevux ( 626542 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @11:15PM (#5707624)
    I do a lot of internet research first then I goto the store. Unfortunately, the store's don't do a good job of showing you the real quality of the monitors. My current monitor (Viewsonic VX900), which I bought sight-unseen, is incredible. The same one at stores doesnt look as good. Know your specs, read user reviews, and then goto the store.
  • by jbridges ( 70118 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @11:16PM (#5707629)
    I shop at a local clone/junk store that sells tons of refurbished monitors. They are hooked up so you can look at them. Generally the large brand name (like NEC) monitors seem to hold up well.

    Maybe not as sharp or flat as some newer monitors, but they seem to last forever and are relatively cheap (less than a new noname piece of junk).

    • Thats where I get my 21" inch monitors. I tend to go with the cheap ones (sub $200), but they tend to develop problems after a couple of years. One of mine has a spot that tends to be redder than the rest of the monitor and the other stopped doing 800x600 resolution but works fine in other video modes. I'm thinking of spending $350-$400 for the next monitor and having it last a while because I need higher than 1600x1200 resolution anyway. My friends who shell out that kind of money for a monitor tend not to
  • It is still one of the best ways to shop for just about anything. I apply to this to computers and other products alike. Brose around the web and find real user testemonials, ask friends and co-workers, so on. Then once I narrow the choices down based on all of that I check it out in person.
  • by Deal-a-Neil ( 166508 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @11:16PM (#5707634) Homepage Journal
    My buddy has a flat panel that is huge (from Gateway) -- but the text/fonts look like an Atari 2600. Look for a wicked dot pitch, and if you're store shopping, crack open a word processor or command prompt, and look at the quality of the plain text fonts. With monitors, you always get what you pay for. And I agree -- you have to see it in person. And lastly, from this non-expert, I recommend that you look for dead pixels when you take it home. Download a shareware dead pixel detector, and look for those dead pixels on the LCD. (assuming you're picking up an LCD/flat-panel) If there are a lot, take it back for another.
    • by bromba ( 538300 )

      The parent poster is right - look out for dead pixels. And before you buy - look out for the monitor with the right warranty.

      Recently I bought 15" Philips 150B3T panel, with 3 yrs warranty. After I asked for this model, the shop assistant tried to peddle to me an Philips 150F4 or something like this, claiming the same technical parameters. Fortunately I refused and insisten on the one I have seen on display. At home it turned out that the one they wanted to sell me had a warrany that kicks in only if the m

  • I personally am using the same monitor from 5 years ago. It's 15", 800x600, but works great and displays color beautifully.

    The model is MV400. If you can still find one, get it as a backup if your main monitor dies. I have a spare myself, new in the unopened box.

    (hint: look for one at staples, they were $30 when I got my spare)
  • Good place I know (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Sells what could be considered "Factory Reject" monitors that are actually fully functional, but the companies just wouldn't send out to sit on the shelves.

    From their FAQ:

    "Grade A - Monitor is in Great Condition

    Has slight Cosmetic Blemishes, examples of which are (but not limited to):

    Slight Scratches in case"

    That's the grade you want obviously.

    I got the IBM P202, 21" monitor, $225. Works beautifully.

  • Advice (Score:2, Funny)

    by mesach ( 191869 )
    "What do you do to make sure you get the sort of high-quality display that'll last you through the next couple hardware upgrades"

    Do lots of research, then goto Fry's and BYPASS EVERY EMPLOYEE IN THE BUILDING to get the monitor you want, not what some halfwit will tell you is good, then when you are thouroughly FED UP, Leave and goto BestBuy and repeat until you are exhausted and there are no more big electronics stores left, then go home Post an Ask Slashdot, and get the same mumbo jumbo from everyone her
  • What's worked for me (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Is always buying Apple displays. I've had one dud one in 13 years, and it was replaced. The result was an excellent monitor all the same.

    Doesn't work for everyone, but I spend all my computer time looking at the thing, I'm willing to spend a lot on the device. Don't skimp on cheapo, budget, or even midrange brands.
  • Trinitron (Score:5, Informative)

    by Door-opening Fascist ( 534466 ) <skylar@cs.earlham.edu> on Thursday April 10, 2003 @11:19PM (#5707657) Homepage

    Get a Trinitron. They're pricey, but you won't regret it. They're brighter than regular monitors, as sharp as LCD screens, have excellent color and long life. The new ones have a special screen that is externally flat, but internally concave. This reduces glare but prevents the annoying edge distortion of normal flat CRT monitors.

    Sony has an interesting description of Trinitron technology here [sony.com.sg].

    If you're not adverse to looking on eBay [ebay.com], you can find some good deals there. Remember that many Dell, Sun, IBM, and SGI monitors are actually relabelled Trinitrons, so don't forget to check on them as well.

    • Yes, Trinitron monitors do indeed rule. That was all I used for many years. But I disagree with you on the "sharp as LCD screens" bit. I have now switched to two Sony 18" LCDs using DVI and they are noticably sharper than my previous Trinitron monitor. Plus it weighs a heck of a lot less, uses less power, and I don't have electron guns aimed at my face.

      Of course, it isn't great for non-native resolutions. I need to upgrade to a dual DVI Radeon 9800 so I can run all my games at 1280x1024. :-)
    • Trinitron? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by n3k5 ( 606163 )
      Aren't those the ones with those massively annoying black lines across the picture? Advocates say you stop noticing the lines after a while, but this is definitely wrong if you deal a lot with small details or even single pixels, e.g. if you use Photoshop/Gimp, design web sites, or something like that. You keep noticing the lines, they get in your way and annoy you. Ironically, most of these applications really benefit from a superior sharpness, which Trinitron monitors allegedly have. In situations in whic
      • Re:Trinitron? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by G-funk ( 22712 ) <josh@gfunk007.com> on Friday April 11, 2003 @12:12AM (#5707998) Homepage Journal
        HAH! The fact you mentioned the gimp shows you know naught of which you speak. I assure you, all graphic designers who work professionally as a designer, use trinitron screens. A few these days might use the really high end sony lcds, but they're mainly for DTP, not design, as even the top of the line mac screens are still not as good as a crt for colour matching.
      • Re:Trinitron? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by SoupIsGoodFood_42 ( 521389 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @12:22AM (#5708060)
        I'm a web designer. And I consider myself the pixel perfectionist type. But I don't find the lines too bad. Occasionaly they're a bit annoying. But most of the time I don't even notice them.
        I think the key is to ignore them from the start. Else you'll notice them everytime your eye scans by them, and you'll go insane and turn into a laughing maniac.

        BTW. The lines are very thin. Much thinner that a pixel. And they're only noticable on a plain, non-dark background.

      • Re:Trinitron? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by 2short ( 466733 )

        The lines are much smaller than a pixel, and you will not notice them after the first day. (Well, except when someone who has never used a Trinitron for more than a day posts a stupid comment about them on slashdot, and you look for them.)
        You notice them when you're dealing with single pixel details? So you're saying that when you're dealing with single-pixel details in Photoshop, running your monitor at resolutions Trinitron users are likely to, you don't ZOOM IN? Right. 10 hours a day. Right. Do you e
      • Re:Trinitron? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by GlassHeart ( 579618 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @01:03AM (#5708229) Journal
        Aren't those the ones with those massively annoying black lines across the picture?

        Exaggeration will not help you make a point.

        Trinitron tubes have two thin horizontal wires across the screen, about a third of the way from the top and bottom. These wires are much thinner than a pixel, but do show up against bright graphics.

        But they are not "massively annoying", because many people do manage to ignore them. The simple proof is that many people who didn't know about those lines don't even notice them until they are told.

      • Re:Trinitron? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Cecil ( 37810 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @01:24AM (#5708310) Homepage
        I disagree. Games and web browsing are where the lines are most noticable. In graphics, the color accuracy, sharpness, brightness, and typically better pixel geometry of a Trinitron win out, and you can generally scroll the image around if you're dealing with a particular part that happens to fall under one of the guide wires.

        I'm a big Trinitron fan personally, though my best friend and I have had heated arguments about which is better. It's clearly a very subjective thing. Some of us can't tune out the guide wires on a Trinitron, others (like me) have trouble tuning out the subtle pattern of the mask on shadow mask tubes. To each his own I guess.

    • Trinitrons use the horid aperture grill instead of a shadow mask. The aperture grill causes the annoying lines that we just love to hate.

      Here's the quick breakdown:

      Shadow mask: The shadow mask in a CRT monitor is a metal screen filled with holes that sits just behind the phosphor layer. Red, green and blue electron guns each send a beam through a hole in the shadow mask to a single pixel triad of the tube's phosphor layer. Although this method keeps the image sharp, it diminishes the potential brightness
    • Re:Trinitron (Score:5, Informative)

      by meowsqueak ( 599208 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @12:19AM (#5708041)
      I agree with you. I have two Mitsubishi Trinitron monitors at home (one about 2 years old, the other about 4 years old) and both work flawlessly and still look great. After working on crappy Viewsonic CRT's all day it's a great relief to come home and stare at a fantastic display for a few hours...

      The technology that Trinitron monitors use is called 'Aperture Grille' which, IIRC, consists of high-tension wires strung across a loom, of sorts. The two semi-noticable horizontal lines characterising Trinitron displays are actually the shadows from two horizontal wires used to space the vertical ones (or so I am led to believe). You don't notice them after a while, but occasionally they 'reappear'.

      Aperture Grille gives a much sharper picture than traditional 'shadow mask' monitors, because the pixels are arranged in a rectangular array rather than triangles of RGB. This gives a distinct and crisp look to on-screen right angles, such as the corners of desktop windows.

      The tube is also blacker, giving much better contrast. And it's flat :)

      Anyway, I would certainly recommend Mitsubishi trinitron monitors. I've heard some bad rumours but my personal experience has been 100% good. And besides, everyone has a bad story to tell about anything.

      You can also do that ClearType/sub-pixel rendering trick with trinitron monitors (which you can certainly do on LCD monitors with startling results!) because the pixels are laid out differently from those on a standard monitor.

    • Re:Trinitron (Score:3, Informative)

      by LoudMusic ( 199347 )
      There are two kinds of monitors in the world - those with Trinitron tubes, and those without.

      Every monitor I have ever purchased (current count is five), every television I have ever purchased (current count is one), has been a Trinitron. Every single one is still in excellent working condition. The oldest I have is a Dell 17" from 1997. I've seen the same monitor branded as Sun, Compaq, SGI, and I believe HP.

      Trinitron - accept no substitutions.
  • by gnatware ( 138810 ) <[peter] [at] [zingg.name]> on Thursday April 10, 2003 @11:19PM (#5707658)
    These guys have been churning out great value for CRT and LCD monitors for many years now--why bother going elsewhere? They supply a vast range of sizes, prices and features, so you can easily pick the one that fits your (analog|DVI|flat|CRT|15|17|19|20|21) profile.
  • by Dark Bard ( 627623 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @11:19PM (#5707666)
    I used to be a big Viewsonic fan. One of the best for the money but I had to replace one recently and got what should have been the new model of my previous monitor which I loved. It's the A90f. The first one I brought home I assumed was defective. The bottom of the screen has a nasty upward curve on the sides, no way to adjust that on the monitor. The other annoying problem is the image drifts. At times the toolbar would completely disappears. I've had to shrink the size of the screen to allow for that. I returned the first one and found I had exactly the same problems on the new one. Personally the next time around I will go flat screen. The color depth is much better now and I would assume they are more problem free. Not sure who to recommend for CRT monitors. Seems like everyone got so obsessed with making them cheaper the quality has suffered.
  • Buying an LCD? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Boss, Pointy Haired ( 537010 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @11:20PM (#5707671)
    Explain to the sales droid that LCD displays can have dead [or permanently alive] pixels. It probably won't know that knackered pixels are expected, but the vast majority of displays are perfect, so there's no harm in making sure you get a perfect one.

    Unpack the display and plug it into a PC in the store. Now you need to check both a completely white screen and a completely black screen - because knackered pixels can be knackered either always on or always off.

    To check always off, fire up Internet Explorer, go to "about:blank" and press F11 (full screen). This will give you a page full of white. Scan the page closely looking for "always off" dead pixels.

    Then, to test for always on pixels, right click on the desktop and go to screen saver. Select "Blank" and then "Preview". Again, scan the blank screen and this time look for "always on" pixels - although these are much easier to spot!
    • Re:Buying an LCD? (Score:2, Informative)

      by BJH ( 11355 )
      Be aware that it's possible for only one of the three primary colors to be dead, so it's always a good idea to check with a completely red/green/blue display as well as black and white. This makes it a lot easier to notice.
    • My friend bought an LCD from best buy, and they wouldn't let her test it for dead pixels before she bought it. Once she flashed the plastic, they gladly hooked it up. I'm assuming they did that so it deterrs people who weren't going to buy it in the first place from making an open box item.
    • technically... (Score:5, Informative)

      by rebelcool ( 247749 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @11:59PM (#5707918)
      it should be the other way around. An LCD 'turns on' its pixel so it becomes opaque - that is, black.

      A pixel is 'turned off' (goes clear) and lets the white backlight through it to display white.

      This is why LCD's are not as good at displaying black as CRT's. The backlight is always on, and the pixels can have varying degrees of opaqueness when turned on. This makes black more of an uneven very dark gray (well, uneven on my LCD anyway..newer ones might be better at it)

      Also, they won't necessarily be black or white. I have some green dead pixels.

  • CRT vs LCD (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Blaine Hilton ( 626259 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @11:21PM (#5707679) Homepage
    My question is how long can an LCD be expected to last? I have a Compaq 17" monitor from 95 (8 years old) and it still works fine. I wonder though if I could expect that from a 19" LCD screen? For the price I would pay for one I would hope it would.
    • Re:CRT vs LCD (Score:2, Informative)

      by BJH ( 11355 )
      If you keep your LCD on for extended periods of time, you'll probably find that the flourescent tubes around the edge of the screen start to get darker after a couple of years.

      Most manufacturers are willing to replace these (for a fee, of course).
    • Re:CRT vs LCD (Score:4, Informative)

      by tezzer ( 558085 ) <.terry. .at. .chiastic.net.> on Thursday April 10, 2003 @11:34PM (#5707761) Homepage
      Don't expect an LCD to last more than a few weeks past the end of the warranty (12 months?). I'm staring at a 1-pixel vertical green line and a 1 pixel vertical red line near the right third of my lcd, crapped out 2 months after the waranty. I went to the tech at the local Best Buy and he took me in back and showed me a half dozen others with similar dead lines. His comment? "Buy the extended warranty, then you'll get a free replacement in a year."

      OTOH, the green and red lines only show up for certain color values, so it's not all that distracting. Sucks for games though, can't tune them out.

  • Yep, it's tough. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Keep in mind that stores often use a splitter of some kind to display the same image on many monitors from one computer. This just has the effect that they all look bad, and you can't tell much about any of them.

    I buy sight unseen, but then I'm picky. If you can't buy from a local store that is easy to return to, then go with a brand that stands behind their quality claims. I currently own an NEC FE950+. The first one I got (via a web order) had bad geometry. NEC cross-shipped me a new monitor and sent me
  • I am not blind, partially because I spent far more than I could afford on the best monitor that money could buy about 8 years ago. The NEC XP21. High refresh rates, durability of a mule. The monitor is a little dim now, and falling out of focus, but it did pretty well for being on most of the time. I spent a good bit on a video card at the time, too. The refresh rate was worth the cost.

    Don't go cheap on the monitor. You will look at it whenever your computer is on. Your computer might get tweaked, c
  • by mesach ( 191869 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @11:25PM (#5707700)
    Look at Fatwallet's [fatwallet.com] or Anandtech's [anandtech.com]Hot Deals Forums for LCD's...

    I always find Screamin deals on LCD's there, I bought 3 Dell 1900FP's Just before X-mas for $1300, Dell was running a Buy 2 get one free deal, and I couldnt pass it up the LCD's are GREAT
  • I own a Mag v800 and its a great low cost 19 inch monitor. However my refresh rate in X sucks bigtime. Yes I entered the proper vertical and horizontal frequences from the manual but I can not get above 77hz in X. In Windows I use 100hz. I get headaches after several hours of using Linux or FreeBSD as a result.

    Find out which monitors come bundled with penguin computers or Dells that come with Linux. Sony is a good brand that is well used.

  • by Courageous ( 228506 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @11:27PM (#5707714)

    Buy from a small local shop. Call around. Tell them that you're particular about monitors, particularly fuzzy ones, and you'll buy from them if they'll let you connect the very unit you want to buy to your computer and video card right in the store. All of the small shops will say "no problem."

    --Also Very Picky About Monitors
  • I've bought only CRTs recently, all of them at a used monitor store. The store usually sends a rep to the local computer show (MarketPro being the one in my area). 17" monitors can be had for about $50-$60.

    They tend to be bigger and draw slightly more power than a new model but it would take over two years of usage to make up for the difference in cost. You do get to see the display on the same monitor you'll be buying, so there's no danger of the display model being better than the boxed ones. What you se
  • devsdeals.com & Dell (Score:4, Informative)

    by mackman ( 19286 ) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @11:28PM (#5707722)
    Both I and a coworker have kept an eye on devsdeals.com and waited for an opportunity to pick up a top-quality Dell LCD display for $500. You can get a 17" (1702FP) or 18.1" (1800FP) for about $480, both 1280x1024 with a 500:1 contrast on the 17" and 300:1 on the 18". DVI and VGA.
    • by Sethb ( 9355 ) <bokelman@outlook.com> on Thursday April 10, 2003 @11:58PM (#5707906)
      The Dell ones are great, I just got my dream screen yesterday, the 20" Dell 2000FP, it's sweet. 1600x1200 native resolution, and it puts my old 21" Trinitron CRT to shame for clarity. I've got 3 screens hooked up to my PC now, the big 2000FP in the middle, and two Dell 1504 15" LCDs on the sides.

      They aren't flashy, but they're reasonably priced, and fairly rugged, you can't go wrong with the Dell screens.
  • How many of your mates and relatives who know nothing about computers have been sat infront of their monitor that is perfectly capable of 75Hz non-interlaced; but instead, it is configured at 56Hz interlaced!!!!

    Agggghhhhh I've lost count. Even worse is the number of tech support people who don't as a matter of course configure a monitor for its optimum refresh rate.

    It's not so much a problem now because the latest Plug'n'Pray systems means everything is set-up correctly, but with Windows 95 I came across
  • Pretty much anything with a sony trinitron tube is gonna kick ass.
  • and it's been annoying. Sticking with the reliable manufacturers, Samsung and Sony, my biggest complaint is that each has a long list of monitors of widely-varying price but unclear distinctions between the actual product. There'll be a $17'' monitor for $260 and one for $399 and comparing the specs I can't see a meaningful difference. I've looked at hardware review sites, but had little success. I've found no comprehensive information which has enabled me to make informed monitor decisions.
  • Optiquest, a line from ViewSonic, makes hella good monitors. The Q95 [mwave.com] has a GREAT horizontal dot pitch and just looks fabulous. The whole Comp Sci. lab at my school [usm.edu] has these.

    Very nice.

  • Step 1: Do your homework.

    Read reviews. Lots of them. Go to the store yourself and look at some models.

    Step 2: Take the test.

    Find one you like. Buy it, try it. If it doesn't work the way you want, exchange it for the same model. If that one doesn't work, it's a piece of crap; exchange it for something different, or return it and pay the restocking fee.
  • I have bought several monitors of various brands. The best two I have are both NEC's: the MultiSync FE1250 which is a 22" monitor capable of 1920x1440, and a newish LCD (I don't have it in front of me so I can't give the details.

    I have always known that the monitor is the longest-lasting, least-depreciating, most visible part of any computer system so feel free to spend big. When I got my 22 incher almost three years ago, I spent C$1300 on it which was half the cost of my total system. It did have a pro

  • If you're like me and don't spend as much time playing games, but more time looking at text and video, a recent LCD monitor is quite good.

    Me, I just purchased an NEC MultiSync LCD1760V - cost me not much more than $600 for a 17". It's bright (damned thing is set at 3% brightness...), and the nicest thing of all, 16ms full-cycle response time (12ms Tr, 4ms Tf, IIRC).

    It's analog only, but it's one of the few monitors I've used that seem to lock bang on using "Auto" mode so I don't have to mess with fine adj
  • For me, anything lower than 17" is a no-go. Ideally I'll get a nice 17" monitor for $150-200 CDN, but I'll pay up to $250.

    As fas as quality is concerned, all I care about is that it lasts for a long time and that it displays things correctly.
  • Dumpster Diving. (Score:3, Informative)

    by twiztidlojik ( 522383 ) <{dapplemac} {at} {mac.com}> on Thursday April 10, 2003 @11:47PM (#5707844) Homepage
    1. Find a video production studio.
    2. Make sure they use relatively old SGI workstations.
    3. Wait.
    4. Go dumpster diving.
    5. ??????
    6. Four 23" SGI-branded trinitron monitors!
  • Monitors are for people with weak memories.

    I can't tell you what to buy, but I can tell you that I bought a Viewsonic PS775 about 3 years ago on advice from a friend who had good experiences with them, and I've been very happy with it. Another friend of mine got a similar model on my advice and was also very happy. Stick with a reputable brand and don't try to save $50 on a monitor you're going to use for the next three to five years. Get something you'll like looking at.
  • Do LCD montiors age?

    I know that sometimes one or a few pixels are dead when you get a new LCD; but I think that this is due to the production process. I also know that tube monitors do age, they get duller and duller. On the other hand, there is nothing that says that components have to age; for example LEDs do not.

    If LCD screens do not age that has very important implications. You should invest in an expensive one and not switch when you get a new computer.

  • I couldn't find a lot of reviews on the 18.1" category of monitors that didn't seem super critical. Many were whinig about 'lag' while playin FPS like Unreal 2003 or Battlefield earth. I played around in various stores looking at them and never saw them.

    The 1860 got a decent response time (25ns) so I said what the heck and bought it via the web without seeing it.

    If there is ghosting, my ATI9700 and I don't see it. UT2003 at 1280x1024 is great, and so is everything else I play.

    nice monitor. It was lik
  • I've found that the recent Samsung monitors are excellent units.

    If you want a CRT, get the SyncMaster 763MB 17" monitor. It's pretty reasonably priced, and its sharpness of text and graphics are just unbeatable for its price, thanks to its very tiny pixel size. The brightness quality of the 763MB is quite good, too.

    If you want a LCD, get the SyncMaster 152T (15" with 1024x768 native resolution) or the SyncMaster 191T (19" with 1280x1024 native resolution). Both of these monitors have under 25 ms response
  • They are very important!!! Get quality cables.Get monitor cables with ferrite filters.Otherwise you might get a ghosty picture.
  • by gblues ( 90260 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @12:27AM (#5708090)
    A common refrain is to "trust your eyes," however your eyes can be very deceiving.

    Every monitor displays colors differently. Even different monitors that are the same model! Color perception depends greatly on ambient lighting, the signal being put out by the video card, to say nothing of the monitor's controls. This is why the row of monitors at Fry's all look different--it has nothing to do with the actual quality of the monitor! Trusting your eyes may result in you buying an inferior model.

    Spec out the monitor you want in terms of size and dot pitch, then go out and buy the model with those specs that also gives you fine-grained control over the color settings. Don't worry too much about what the display model looks like--it's almost guaranteed to be calibrated incorrectly.

    Of course, the fun part is calibrating it when you get home. Use a utility such as Adobe ColorSync to do a quick-n-dirty calibration.

    Unless you're working in graphic design, you probably won't do anything else with color management.

  • A Bit of Research (Score:5, Informative)

    by iMMo ( 61469 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @12:40AM (#5708149)
    I just went through the entire process of buying a monitor two months ago - from idea in head to hooking it up on the day it arrived. I had two objectives: get a high quality display and pay as little as possible.

    Research was the first step, so I checked out the stock at my local Fry's - pretty much everything was a flat panel, and what wasn't was garbage. I have a dual 21" setup at work, so I wanted at least 21" at home - plasma display was not an option for me. Local compter shops didn't have much better to offer - some Viewsonic or Optiquest models that I found were relatively inexpensive, and had good specs. Most of the monitors in the 21"+ range in my local shops were either too expensive or had crappy specs.

    Out of all of my local research, I made a couple of brand decisions, and went to the net to get more info. I spent some time comparing between manufacturer's sites to get a good idea of what was 'state of the shelf' at that time. Using pricewatch, I was able to find a feature/price point. Then, I hit epinions.com and consumer reports online to get some further information on the brands.

    At this point, I had found the monitor that I wanted - 22" NEC MultiSync FE1250+. I then began to shop around for the best price I could find. There were several retailers that were (relatively) highly rated on pricegrabber that had decent prices for this item. I picked one and followed their order process to see how much I would pay in shipping. The total seemed acceptable (~600USD) so I confirmed the order and moved into the buyer's guilt stage of the purchase.

    Here's the big D'oh. As most people do, I went searching to see if I could find a better deal after the fact. I went to some of the larger computer retailers like Gateway and Dell, and wow! they had huge sales and free shipping deals. Not only that, but Dell's price on the same NEC monitor with no shipping charge was nearly 200USD cheaper than the retailer from pricegrabber. I promptly cancelled my order with the smaller retailer and placed an order with Dell. The next week I was bathing in the glow of my new 22" monitor!

    So I guess the moral of the story is to research, research, research. Get info, then reinforce it with opinion and testimonials. You don't necessarily have to see it to get a good deal. Oh, and don't rule out the big guys - they often can beat out everyone else, even on stuff they don't normally sell individually!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11, 2003 @12:53AM (#5708192)
    I work at a university and we have numerous brands and models of LCDs and CRTs. From sheer volume I can tell you that the Apple brand monitors are the best out there. They have the crispest display, best white balancing, and longest life expectancy of anything we have. Our faculty, who use Dells, all request Apple LCDs. We use the 17" ones which run around 500 to 600. In a side by side comparison with the NEC monitors I have to say Apple shines once again.
  • by spage ( 73271 ) <spage AT skierpage DOT com> on Friday April 11, 2003 @03:56AM (#5708796)
    Here's a guide for would-be size queens.

    Decide what size and resolution you want. I go for insane pixel counts (at least 1920x1440) and use Mozilla zoom and app font settings to make things visible, but if your apps are stuck at fixed pixel sizes and can't zoom (or you're too stupid to make the adjustments), it may be more trouble than it's worth and you'll be happier at 1024x768.

    Then if you want higher res, figure out what refresh rate your video card can do at that resolution. Anything less than 72Hz is going to be miserable, and 85Hz is nicer. If you're willing to go with 16-bit color instead of 24-bit (thousands of colors instead of millions), you can get a higher refresh rate. Some video cards say they can do 2048x1536 at 85 Hz, but you find it's only in 8-bit color mode, which is useless these days.

    Unless you have thousands to spend, your resolution quest takes you beyond LCD's, and you have to get a CRT.

    All modern CRT monitors will claim they can do 2048x1536, but check the refresh rate as above. And then, check the dot pitch. Tiny pixels and big phosphor dots don't mix.

    Buy your monitor, plug it in, screw in the cables to avoid interference, position your monitor away from stray electromagnetic fields. Go for the massive resolution, make sure you've got the plug'n'pray correctly identifying your monitor and letting you max out the refresh rate. Then spend quality time with all the setup controls. You need zone convergence to align the colors in each area of the screen, and full geometry controls to compensate for tilt, skew, barrel, etc. Displaymate [displaymate.com] has some nice test patterns, or you can create your own in a paint program.

    Realize your video card is crap and at midnight unscrew a PHB's PC and swap your card with her 300+MHz RAMDAC 32MB model, then find you have to recalibrate all your settings.

    Eventually give up on 2048x1536 because GIF images are just too damn tiny, and go for 1856x1392.

    If you're going for high resolution, you have to go Sony GDM-F500R or the newer 520. To my knowledge nobody else has 0.22 mm dot pitch across the screen. I have that at work plus the GDM-F400 at home at 1600x1200. They're both fantastic and have been perfect for over three years. But again if you're happy at 1024x768 the extra money isn't worth it. The Sony E and G series are nearly as good and a lot less. You may find a PHB with a GDM series that's wasted running at 1024x768, so do the midnight monitor swap, she'll never notice. Yes occasionally the two wires on the Trinitron are right where you're looking, but it's not a big deal for me.

    An LCD monitor with a DVI connection to your display card should let you bypass all the messing around with geometry and convergence, but you need to be careful. As I understand it, unless the DVI connector and your video card are engineered right with dual TMDS transmitters, you can't do super-high resolutions through the digital interface.

  • by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <moiraNO@SPAMmodparlor.com> on Friday April 11, 2003 @04:41AM (#5708901)
    Things to note:
    If you're into 3D action gaming and not just work/slower gaming you need a good switching speed which almost allways means CRT. There are some iiyama LCD panels that have fast switching and don't blur in fast 3D action (tested by powergamers too!), but they're still not common. Double check before buying.
    If you're going to get a CRT instead of a LCD consider a high contrast, brilliant color 'Triniton' class. Be carefull though, those've got 2 thin horizontal lines between the 1st and second and 2nd and 3rd part of the screen (stabilization wires). Some find them extremely disturbing. You won't want that to be so! I personally am just sitting in Front of one (Sony E400 Triniton Flatscreen Tube) and I can see the wires if I look for them, but I've got used to it and find the benefits outway the wirelines.
    Otherwise, if you're not into fast/3D gaming, it's easyer: Get an LCD!
    iiyama have a good price for top range quality, otherwise I recommend Eizo if you want to be on the safe side. Both are good at CRT and LCD, Eizo being a tad pricier (and better, imho). Allthough the last time I checked (looong time ago), their LCDs where good but had a little yellowish touch to their background light.
    BTW: You'll also want an digital conection for your brand new LCD screen - maybe consider a digital grafics output GFX adapter. Converting analog VGA back and forth degrades gfx quality in a noticable manner!

    Here are the URLs:
    http://www.eizo.com /index.htm

    Another advice: Do not buy cheap junk LCD! It's not just about broken pixels but also the background lighting on bad LCDs that can be unbalanced and screw up the best panel with uneven brightness or darker patches across the screen. Very anoying!
  • by rufusdufus ( 450462 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @07:25AM (#5709335)
    A high resolution/high lumen projection LCD is so much better than any traditional monitor it will stun you.

    My screen is 6' by 5' but only takes up the volume of a toaster and can be carried around with one finger.

    This is not your old-fashioned dim projector either; I project on an off-color wall but the brightness is as high as a CRT.

    Yes, it is more expensive; but this is not a minor quality difference--it's shock and awe.
  • by tarsi210 ( 70325 ) <nathanNO@SPAMnathanpralle.com> on Friday April 11, 2003 @09:27AM (#5709873) Homepage Journal
    When I recently (within the last year) upgraded to a nice Samsung PerfectFlat 19"er, I went to several large discount stores to try to buy a good chunk of illuminated glass. Although I had read that buying a monitor is best in person, I have to offer this one caution -- know the limitations of the store's displays.

    Why in the hades must stores insist on hooking up 55 monitors to the same damn video signal? The guy even admitted it was awful...static, etc. STATIC?!?!? On a monitor!? Incredible. Yet I picked my monitor out from all those and got lucky. I asked if I could pull some off the shelf and have them hooked up independently, but the guy conveniently pointed out the 20lb. log chain attached to each, and I gave up on it.

    The point is: Put the displays through the best you can give them at the store. Ask if you can control the signalling computer. (I was able to do *anything* in one store, and I amused the staff and customers for awhile with my antics as a 10x10 monitor wall started doing my bidding. Most entertaining.) Give them the best shot, try to burn them out on site...give them refresh rates that would make your mother scream in pain.

    But at the end of the day, it's a lot of luck. Good luck!

Heuristics are bug ridden by definition. If they didn't have bugs, then they'd be algorithms.