LCD Computer Monitor Buying Guide

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lcd.jpgSometimes buying new toys for yourself, your home, and your computer can be quite a daunting task. You want to make sure you get the most bang for your buck, right?

You also want to make sure that what you're buying can put up with the task of being used, and handled daily. And you also want to make sure that there's no quality defects, or that there's no production or manufacturing problems that may lead to defects.

Buying an LCD computer monitor is just another buying decision that you want to do well on. There are many aspects, and specifications of LCD computer monitors that you should pay very close attention to, because they determine how well your LCD monitor does a specific task, like playing a game or watching a movie, because not all computer monitors are made the same.

Screen Size: This one is very important, I'm sure you can tell why. The bigger the screen size the more viewing area you have on your monitor, which equals a bigger screen for bigger movies, bigger games, and bigger web pages. Also bigger screen sizes support higher resolutions. LCD computer monitor size varies from 17 inches all the way up to 26 inches. A 26 inch LCD computer monitor is one nice piece of technology. However, the higher they go the more cash you'll end up spending. Most computer users stick with 19", 20", and 22" monitors. Right now these sizes are the sweet spots for the best bang for the buck. Currently, most monitor deals focus on these models.

Widescreen: Yes. Widescreen means that the computer monitor has an aspect ratio of 16:9, which has been growing in popularity over the last couple of years. Widescreen is better because it allows you to see the whole picture as it was intended in movies. It allows a wider viewing area which is very important, because on non-widescreen movies or 4:3 aspect ratio movies a large portion of the sides are cut off, and that can change a dramatic part of the movies into a not-so-dramatic part. With computers, widescreen allows you to have more sideways space for your applications, in overall computer usage it doesn't really have any side effects, and it makes it look equally cool. Most LCD computer monitors nowadays are being sold in Widescreen aspect ratios, you have to specifically look for an LCD monitor with a 4:3 aspect ratio anymore.

Native Resolution: The native resolution the maximum resolution that the monitor can display images natively. It's the resolution that the monitor was built to have. If you use a resolution other than the native resolution the monitor will have stretch, and shrink the image to fit the specified resolution which results in quality and detail loss. The native resolution offers the best image quality over all other resolutions. Good native monitor resolutions include 1920×1080 (1080p HD), 1280×720 (720p HD), and 1680×1050.

Contrast Ratio: The contrast ratio is the range between brightest and darkest on the computer monitor. The higher the contrast ratio the better. If a monitor has a high contrast ratio it has a greater range of shades, enhanced detail, and greater image depth.

Response Time: This is important especially for gaming and movies, this is the amount of time it takes for the monitor to refresh, the lower the response time the better. If your monitor's response time is low, or you have an older LCD computer monitor, you've probably experienced some ghosting, ghosting is where the images end up sort of being mashed together between frames. You'll see what's left over of the previous frame in the current frame, and can get irritating if it happens often.

Brightness: The brightness is emitted light power over a specific area on the monitor, the higher the brightness the better. Most monitors have over 200 cd/m2 which is sufficient for normal use.

Connectivity: Connectivity is important, because it will determine how your monitor is going to connect to your computer, most newer monitors have DVI connectivity, while older LCD monitors will have VGA port connectivity. If you happen to have a VGA monitor you can get an adapter that will convert it to DVI so you can plug your monitor into your computer.

Choosing The Right LCD Monitor

Average Computer User:

Screen Size: 17"-20"

Response Time: 8ms

Native Resolution: 1280×1024

Contrast Ratio: 450:1-500:1

Connectivity: DVI, VGA

Gamers and Home Theater PC Users

Screen Size: At least 19"

Widescreen: Yes

Response time: Less than 8ms

Native Resolution: 1280×1024, 1600×1200 or higher

Connectivity: DVI

Graphics Artists, Photographers, Heavy-Duty Photoshoppers

Screen Size: At least 20"

Widescreen: Yes

Native Resolution: 1600×1200 or higher

Connectivity: DVI

Remember, whenever you purchase something to also check out the reviews first, do a good review hunt for each product you're looking to purchase, because if the reviews are good then the product will be good, if they're bad then don't even think about buying it.

Written by Steven Stoddard. Check out Steve's Tech Guide – A blog that helps you scratch your tech itch with computer guides, informative how-tos, and important news events.

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