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Monitor Buying Guide

Types
General Features
CRT Features
LCD Features
Plasma Features
Glossary


Overview:
LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) monitors use groups of liquid crystals and fluorescent backlights to form the onscreen image. Basically, light is transmitted to the liquid crystals, which then morph their shape to either block the light or let it pass through.

LCDs offer brighter displays with considerably less energy consumption, all in a slender package that requires very little desktop space.

Advantages:
- Thin Profile
- LCDs feature very thin profiles, making them the perfect choice for small work spaces.
- Standard Screen Sizes
- Unlike CRTs, there is no variance between the monitor size and the screen size. For example, a 17-inch monitor features a 17-inch viewable image.
- Bright Screens
- LCDs, thanks to the florescent backlight, produce bright, rich images
- Low Energy Consumption
- In general, LCD monitors consume about half of the energy of standard CRTs.
- Flicker-Free Refresh Rates
- Refresh rate is less of an issue with LCD monitors. LCDs are designed to have flicker-free refresh rates at 60Hz.
- High Contrast Ratios
- LCD monitors tend to feature excellent contrast ratios, which insure bright, clear images. Make sure the monitor you purchase has a contrast ratio of at least 400:1 or more.

Disadvantages: - Single Resolution
- LCDs are generally designed to work best in a single resolution. They tend not to have the flexibility that CRTs have to display multiple resolutions well.
- Narrow Viewing Angles
- LCDs tend to have a very narrow viewing angle. As you vary from looking at a LCD straight-on the image gradually degrades. Look for at least a 160° viewing angle.
- Slow Pixel Response Time
- LCDs tend to have a much slower pixel response time, which can mean image artifacts remaining onscreen after movement. For example, when you move your mouse quickly across the screen you might see the cursor create shadow images of itself briefly. These disappear instantaneously. In order to avoid this try to find a monitor that has a response time of 25 milliseconds or faster.

DVI (Digital Visual Interface):
While most LCDs usually connect via an analog VGA interface, many newer ones feature DVI as an option. The DVI interface provides a stronger, more reliable signal that can be transmitted over a farther distance. Unfortunately, the DVI interface requires a video card that supports it, which can mean an upgrade in order to take advantage of this feature.

The three types of DVI are:
- DVI-D
- Digital only
- DVI-A
- Analog only
- DVI-I
- Both Digital and Analog
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