Re: Big monitors (very long)

Subject: Re: Big monitors (very long)
From: Kat Nagel/MasterWork <katnagel -at- EZNET -dot- NET>
Date: Thu, 27 Jun 1996 13:23:21 -0400

>I've been trying to buy a monitor in the 17" to 21" range for a few weeks
>now. . .

>I have walked into store after store, ready to buy, and walked out again
>with my money in my pocket.

Poor Richard!

My sympathy. I recently suffered through the same experience, compounded
by the fact that I was looking for a 21" hi-rez -grayscale- monitor.

My first oversize monitor-buying experience several years ago ("No, -not-
monochrome. GRAYSCALE. What do you mean, nobody uses grayscale
monitors?!") taught me a couple of lessons:

(1) Read.
Read lots. Read computer magazines and multimedia magazines and graphic
arts magazines. Get review articles from Byte and PC and any other
mass-circulation mag you can find. Go to the nearest university library
that has INSPEC or another engineering db on CD-ROM. Get review articles
from the last 5 years on display screens and learn the language.

(2) Talk to people.
Let everyone know you need a good monitor. Ask what they -don't- like
about theirs. I looked through the phone book for graphic arts and
multimedia shops. Called 'em up. Made appointments to see their
equipment. Asked 'em where they got it. Asked 'em what they -wished-
they'd bought instead.

(3) Find a guru.
I have a friend with a physics/engineering background who is interested in
display technology. He helped translate stuff from Item1 into English. He
also made me play with the monitors in his office (and several others along
the hall) and tell him what I didn't like about them. Then he told me what
features/specs to pay attention to, and which ones I could safely ignore.

When I had a really good idea of what I wanted, I called/wrote/surfed for
spec sheets from every company that sounded promising during steps 1-3.
Ruled out all but 2 companies that way, because they didn't have the dot
pitch or the color temperature range (white isn't necessarily -white-, you
know, and there are many different -kinds- of gray...) that I needed to
stay sane. For a color monitor, BTW, I would have to pay -lots- of
attention to the color convergence controls. Those slight flickering
red-n-blue shadows behind text on the screen can contribute to visual
fatigue, and even the best monitors need periodic convergence adjustment or
I get nasssty headaches.

That first time around (about 5 years ago) the whole process took over a
week, not including waiting time:
half-day each at 3 libraries
another day reading and noting questions for my guru
half-day with the guru
3 days making the rounds of graphic arts and multimedia firms
another half-day sorting though my notes and the spec sheets

When I knew what I wanted (specs, control features, reliability, price
range), I called the SERVICE MANAGERS of several computer stores. Each
carried one or two of the monitors I was interested in. I explained that:

o Yes, I really wanted to talk to the service manager, not the sales manager
o I needed a monitor.
o I wanted it -soon-.
o I preferred to purchase locally.
o I was prepared to write a check for the entire amount.
o I would -not- buy anything that I couldn't check out adequately in advance.
o I needed to work with someone who could set up a system similar to mine,
with a way of switching between each of the monitors I was considering.

I gave them a list of questions I would be asking, and things I wanted to
see: high-resolution, on-demand resolution changes, all adjustments, etc.
I reminded them that the computer would need to be fitted with a video
board that could handle the biggest monitor I was evaluating.

Three managers refused, saying that their profit wouldn't be enought to
justify that much work.

One guy set up an appointment with one of his service techs, who (when he
got over his shock at a gray-haired, middle-aged, well-upholstered lady who
knew about color temperature) was extremely helpful.

Bottom line for me:
That store had the brand I needed, but not the size, and their supplier
couldn't deliver a 21" monitor for at least 3 weeks. The tech and the
manager gathered all the information I needed to order the correct monitor
from my regular computer dealer (special order only, no samples to play
with). I had what I needed within 4 working days.

Bottom line for the superstore:
I've referred several people there, with more enthusiasm than I usually
have for discount places. The ones who talk directly to the service staff
are as pleased as I was.

This was a -lot- of work, and I'm not sure an employer would give you the
time to do it. But I'm freelance, and it's: my tools, my time, my money,
my eyes, my headaches, my sanity. It was a major time investment, but it
paid off. more thing. I -keep- reading and talking about monitors
and display quality on a regular basis, now. When I had my deadline-rush
disaster a month ago, it only took me a day to repeat the process and
decide on a replacement monitor. Much less stressful!

K@ __________________________________________________Kat Nagel
LIFE1: Technical writing/Document design/Publications planning
MasterWork Consulting Services katnagel -at- eznet -dot- net
Health info service mediref -at- mcls -dot- rochester -dot- lib -dot- ny -dot- us
LIFE2: Vocal chamber music PlaynSong -at- aol -dot- com

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