Computer Monitors

If you are going to stare at a computer monitor for a long time, it is important to choose one with a good display size, excellent image quality and which will not put a strain on your eyes.

The traditional CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) monitor is heavy, bulky and takes a lot of real estate on the table. It is inexpensive and is excellent for playing games and graphics.

It is quickly being replaced by the LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) monitor with prices dropping quite rapidly in recent years. Color reproduction, resolution and sharpness on the newest LCD monitors can be very impressive.

We would definitely recommend a good LCD screen for its relatively compact footprint. An added bonus: they also consume less power.

Monitor Types

There are two types of LCD monitors: passive-matrix and active-matrix.

Nowadays active-matrix LCD monitors are more popular. They give a brighter and sharper image than the passive ones, with a faster refresh rate for a smooth display. They are also referred to as TFT (Thin-Film Transistors) monitors.

Display Size

Sony XBrite SDM HS75P 17 in.The most common display sizes are 15″, 17″, 19″, 20″, and going all the way up to 30″. This is measured diagonally across the screen, but note that the actual viewable area may be less than the stated size due to the partial covering of the border by the monitor frame.

The larger the size the better the graphics and the text rendering, and it is possible to work with more open windows on the screen.

A 17″ CRT monitor has almost the same viewing area as a 15″ LCD and is now standard with most computer purchase.

If you spend a lot of time on your computer, we recommend going for a 19″ display if you can afford it. The extra viewing area and larger text size display are easier on the eyes and make it well worth the extra dollars.

Dot or Pixel Pitch

This is most of the time the distance in mm between 2 dots or pixels of the same color.

It is important to know if it is measured horizontally or diagonally. A 0.24 mm horizontal dot pitch is about the same as 0.28 mm diagonal dot pitch.

A good quality diagonal pitch would be 0.26 mm (0.22 mm horizontal). Usually — but not always — the smaller the dot pitch, the sharper the image.

LG Flatron L1981Q 19 in.Viewing Angle

This applies to LCD monitors which have a restricted viewing angle. The wider the viewing angle, the more comfortable it is to view.

A 170°, almost 180 degrees, viewing angle means in practice that the monitor can be comfortably viewed from almost any angle.

Contrast Ratio

This is the difference in brightness level between the brightest white and the darkest black.

Most monitors will have a range between 300 and 500. The higher the number, the better the definition of the picture displayed.


The brightness of the screen is measured in cd/m2 (candelas per square metre) or nits. A minimum of 200 cd/m2 is required for an LCD screen. The higher the number, the brighter the screen display.


This is the number of pixels (or dots) across the width and the height of the screen.

If you stare very close at a screen image, you will notice that it is really made up of millions of dots. A picture is made up of these dots, so the more there are, the more detailed (or, sharp) the picture can be displayed.

The resolution on a CRT screen can be adjusted, but not for a LCD screen, which is fixed. A minimum resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels is recommended.

Refresh Rate

The Refresh Rate applies to the CRT monitor and indicates how frequently the screen is repainted every second.

The higher the refresh rate, the less likely it will flicker — and therefore the less strain put on your eyes.

For a 17″ monitor, a refresh rate of 75 Hz is recommended; for a 19″ monitor, the minimum refresh rate should be 85 Hz.

Response Time

This determines how fast in milliseconds the LCD screen can change its display. A lower number indicates a faster response time.

A fast response time is better for fast action movies or games. A response time of 12 ms is considered very good, with 25 ms the minimum required.

Dead Pixels

This is a problem that affects LCDs.

As indicated previously, a screen image is made up of pixels. Dead pixels are pixels that are always ON, regardless of whether it should be ON or OFF.

On a white screen, they will appear as stray black dots and on a black screen, they will appear as white or colored dots.

It is not uncommon for LCD monitors to have a few dead pixels and they are generally too small and too few to notice.

However, too many dead pixels detract from the viewing enjoyment.

A good LCD monitor should have none or just a few dead pixels. Check your screen rightaway after you purchase it to determine how many dead pixels it has. Make sure it is covered by the warranty.

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