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Monitor Buying Guide

General Features
CRT Features
LCD Features
Plasma Features

While monitor features vary from type to type, there are a few standard features common to all.

Viewable Screen Area
This is the actual displayable screen area, measured in inches diagonally from corner to corner. It is very common for monitors to be listed at one specific size while having a slightly smaller viewable screen area. For example, a 15" CRT monitor might only have a 13.8" viewable image. Make sure to carefully check the screen statistics and find a monitor that provides the enough screen real estate for your needs.

Pixel Pitch
This is the gap between each pixel on the screen, measures in millimeters. The lower the Pixel Pitch, the smaller the space and the better the picture. In general, tighter spacing between pixels creates a richer, crisper picture.

Resolution is the amount of pixels displayed vertically times the amount displayed horizontally. The higher each number is the greater the onscreen detail and the crisper the image. Please keep in mind that a very high resolution might make text and graphics too small to be read. All monitors feature variable resolutions, so make sure you choose one that supports the size you need.

Refresh Rate
The refresh rate, also known as the horizontal frequency, is the speed in which the screen is redrawn. The faster the frequency the smoother onscreen motion will seem. A lower frequency might cause a lot of onscreen flicker, which can lead to eye strain and headaches. The minimum acceptable refresh rate is 60Hz, but it is a much better idea to shoot for rates between 75Hz - 85Hz.

Contrast Ratio
The contrast ratio is the comparison between the darkest black and the brightest white that can be shown onscreen. The higher the contrast ratio the more clear the definition between light and dark images and the better the overall image quality. The minimum acceptable contrast ratio is 350:1, but you are better off looking for one 400:1 or higher.

The measurement in candelas of the overall brightness and luminance projected by a monitor. The higher the brightness level the better the overall image. The minimum acceptable brightness is at least 100 cd/m2. Remember, you can always reduce the brightness if it is too much for you.
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