Flat screen recommendation (PC) for high res graph?

Subject: Flat screen recommendation (PC) for high res graph?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, David Neeley <dbneeley -at- gmail -dot- com>, WilG -at- GibbsCAM -dot- com
Date: Mon, 04 Jun 2007 10:16:33 -0400

William Gaffga noted: <<... as much as I dislike the company, Dell
produces a good LCD at very reasonable prices.>>

I can second that. My wife has a gorgeous widescreen 20-inch Dell
model, and I'm seriously thinking of getting one myself. She also has
an LG 19-inch screen which is lovely. Samsung also appears to produce
really good displays based on what I see in the stores. I've heard of
a few recent problems with Viewsonics, but please treat those as
anecdotal; they used to have a decent reputation.

David Neeley noted: <<Dell produces nothing in screens. Like other
brands, when it comes to flat screens they buy them from an OEM
manufacturer...just as they do for CRTs.>>

While this is true for many products, not just LCDs, it's also
important to note that a large part of the product's final quality
comes from the assembly. LCD screens, for example, are produced by a
limited number of manufacturers, yet if you look at the reviews in
consumer magazines, there are clear differences in how well products
based on the same underlying screen are rated. Some of this comes
from the inevitable variation among individual units (no
manufacturing process is ever 100% perfect), but much of it comes
from each manufacturer's quality control. For example, a name brand
like Dell often accepts only the top X% of the production run,
rejecting adequate but not exceptional screen components that a
cheapie manufacturer would accept, and the difference in quality
across the brand is predictable.

Before buying a computer product, I always check the PC Magazine
review (www.pcmag.com); I don't always agree with what they have to
say, but they have often pointed out a problem I might not have
noticed on my own. I also check their annual survey of reliability
and customer satisfaction; as with mutual funds, "past performance
does not guarantee future performance" (witness the serious problems
with a whole batch of Dell laptops a few years ago), but it does help
weed out obvious problem brands.

<<Brightness in an LCD monitor comes from a fluorescent light tube
within the monitor and the design of the illumination area that
reflects the light through the screen. LCDs themselves have no light
of their own--you are looking through the liquid crystals to the
light field behind them.>>

Interestingly (and as you noted), a geek friend told me yesterday
that Apple's next batch of laptops will use LEDs rather than
fluorescent lights to generate the light behind the LCD layer.
Brightness is expected to be comparable or better, the cost will be a
bit higher, but power consumption should be much lower (thus, better
battery life). I'll be interested to see whether they apply this to
their desktop monitors too, and how well the technology holds up in
the long run! I have an instinctive distrust of version 1 of any new
technology. <g>

<<Image artifacts from motion should obviously be less of a concern
if you aren't viewing video or animation on the screen. However, it
is quite true that the higher-quality screens typically have faster
response times anyway.>>

It's also important that you judge the store display models with
caution. Because these are often driven simultaneously by a single
graphics unit, the display quality suffers; in particular, you see a
lot of cursor ghosting, something I rarely see outside a computer
superstore. If you want to see the real image, ask them to plug the
display into a single computer that is only driving that one display.
If you're buying the screen to extend your laptop's screen, ask to
plug in your laptop and see how it works.

<<Be careful in that many screens operate at a higher resolution than
you may find comfortable. A 14" LCD with 1024x768, or one with 1280 x
800 or so if it's in widescreen format, may be very hard to read when
text is displayed over many hours of work. As you know, constantly
zooming an image is something of a pain, too.>>

I second that. Make sure you test out the screen at the resolution
you'll actually be using. I find high-res screens often default to
uncomfortably small text. You can fix some of this by adjusting
system-wide settings and some of it by adjusting settings in each
application (e.g., in Word, I routinely zoom text to 150% using a
keyboard macro I created). But sometimes you end up with an
uncomfortable match for your eyes. Antialiasing sometimes helps, but
not always. In that case, you have little choice than to choose a
different display.

-- Geoff Hart
ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
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Re: Flat screen recommendation (PC) for high res graph: From: David Neeley

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