Flat Panel/LCD Monitors

Optimizing Work with Display Technology

For all practical purposes, LCD monitors have replaced the "old school" CRT monitors of the past. The benefits include much thinner and classier designs combined with some truly amazing color and resolution possibilities.

Liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors utilize liquid crystals to produce a screen's image. These crystals, combined with different kinds of backlighting and panel technology, are the heart of LCD monitor technology and, in general, are what have enabled flat panel monitors to become the industry standard.

Flat Panel/LCD Monitors

Finding the Right Monitor

When shopping for a computer monitor, it's good to be clear in your mind just what the monitor will be used for. This – along with knowing your budget – will help you know whether a monitor that costs $500 more than another you are considering is worth it or not. If that extra money is the price for high-end rendering of complex graphics, then it's probably worth it. But you may not need those features just to read more emails.

At this point, Office Shop Direct recommends that you combine online shopping with the "try it before you buy it" philosophy. Doing research online, visiting suppliers' Web sites, and reading customer reviews and technical specs are important. But when it comes to monitors, it's hard to know what you're getting for your money without seeing the merchandise in action.

Go to a retail store and do some word processing with a demo. Then open a Web browser and look at some of your favorite sites, including some with heavy graphics content. How crisp is the picture? Are the colors accurate and vivid? How does the image hold up when viewed from different angles?

Does it have the right kind of connection ports for your computer? Does the salesperson have any advice about how well this monitor is likely to work with your system and needs?

Also, do you prefer a glossy screen or a matte one? Some people find the glare off of glossy screens to be a drawback, even though the glossy finish can seem to enhance the screen's colors.

Image Quality

Online or off, it's important to consider some details about the kind of image quality and size you're looking for.

A screen's aspect ratio describes the proportional relationship between its height and width. While a 4:3 ratio was once a go-to standard, a 16:9 aspect ratio is largely the standard now – for digital television, high-definition television (HDTV), and, yes, computer monitors. So, if you'll be viewing HD movies on your monitor, then a 16:9 aspect is a good fit. Also, to get into fully HD territory, it's necessary to look at resolution along the lines of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. In practice, this means shopping for screen sizes of at least 21.5 inches (diagonally).

In other words, aspect and screen resolution are related to screen size. So, if you need the absolute highest available resolution but are short on desktop space, you may be looking at either getting a bigger desk – or mounting a monitor on a wall! (And one nice thing about flat panel monitors is that you can mount them on the wall.)

Again, beyond what the technical specs say about backlighting and contrast ratio, etc., make sure the picture quality looks good to you and the display angles are suitable for your uses.

Smaller and adequate for simple office-related tasks, or larger with the highest possible resolution, LCD flat panel monitors offer something for everyone. Begin looking into brands such as Dell, HP, Samsung, and Asus, among others.