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Buying Tips

How to Buy an LCD Monitor (Flat Panel)

2004's World market for Flat panel LCD displays (monitors): ~$38 billion
Projected Annual Growth Till 2007: 18%!

The reasons are obvious. Flat panel monitors employ TFT (Thin Film Transistors) technology that creates beautiful images even out of horrible ones. The attractive, thin-bezel design captures the imagination of anyone who values style and substance. Consequently, it seems everyone is abandoning their bulky old monitors and buying LCDs - and prices are dropping fast too as manufacturers figure out how to produce them for less.

Here is What To Look For When Buying an LCD flat panel monitor:
1. Pick the biggest screen size you can afford. Period. 2. Which one? Let your eyesight guide you. The more beautiful the image, the better the monitor. Are you not shopping for an LCD only because it gives you a richer and a sharper image than your old CRT does? 3. Some specifications (See below) - Check Today's Prices

• Bigger is Better When it Comes to Flat Panel LCD monitors
One of the big retailers warns you that if you find some great deals on a 15-inch LCD flat panel monitors, it's because those ones are disappearing fast. Fifteen-inch is now almost the default measure for laptops, so desktop users can definitely use bigger screen real-estate for maximum screen legibility. These days, the difference in price between a 15-inch and 19-inch monitors is only about $50, and you will see an incredibly better panorama with the larger unit. And believe me, the more you use a monitor, the more you end up wishing for a bigger one. My personal favorite size is the 24-inch monitor (these days selling for $189!). When you see the same image on a 24-inch and a 19-inch monitor, you will never want to look at the 19-incher again.

• About Today's Low Prices Check Prices For a 22 " LCD
LCD flat panel monitors can be had for a range of prices. If you are a poweruser, you might easily spend more than $1,000 on one of the higher-end models (28"+). Some monitors may have identical specifications yet carry big price tag differences. This can be due to a difference in quality components. They can vary in brightness, contrast and many other areas. Check out the monitors in a huge store with a full wall of LCD flat panel models and you will notice huge disparities in screen quality. Always remember to let your eyes guide you. If the screen you're considering looks better than the others, has excellent specifications and fits your budget, that is it!

• Specifications
--Resolution - the higher the better (example: 1280x1024) and response time - expressed in ms (anything from 12ms on up - this seems to be common these days).
--Contrast - The higher the better (example: 600:1)
--Pixel pitch - the higher the better (example: 0.293 mm).
--Warranty - Look for at least a one-year full warranty, if not three!
--Manufacturer - Though Samsung is the leader in technology and in unit sales, many generic names offer decent choices at very decent prices.
--Seller/Retailer - Pick one that has a great history of customer service; that will accept returns, and send you a replacement without hassles (here is one).

• What the Heck is Response Time?
This is sometimes the most hard to understand number. You can understand resolution, pixel pitch and contrast, but what do you make of the response time?

This number represents image response time and is specified in terms of milliseconds (ms, 1/1000th of a second), such as 4ms, 8ms, 12ms, 16ms, 24ms and so forth. This time is the monitor's signal reaction speed, or the time it takes for a liquid crystal panel to go from total white to total black and then back again to white. A 16ms LCD monitor corresponds to 63 images per second, while 12ms is equivalent to 83 images a second. Check Response Times For Today's Bestsellers

What Does this All Mean?
A quicker response time translates to smoother and more fluid images. So, the next time you notice an advertisement shouting to the world that a specific LCD monitor boasts a lightning quick 24ms response time - which used to be a nice speed - give them the you-know-what! A monitor that sports a 12ms response provides a major upgrade in image smoothness and fluidity. So, the smaller the number, the better (and likely more money).

But this retailer has an 8ms 19" monitor for under $199 (since Oct 2005)! I see no reason to go for something slower than this. 12ms is fine too. Anything slower, WHY?

My personal fav: TigerDirect with cheap prices (I have personally used and strongly recommend in case you are considering buying an LCD monitor) has this to say about the science behind the technology---

"Broadly speaking, the response times of LCDs are slower than those of CRTs. In the past, the response time of most LCDs was between 20ms and 50ms, and the adverse effects of this relatively long interval could be noticed during playback of DVDs or when playing games that required especially quick scene changes. You would, for example, find that fast-moving objects would cause ghosting, particularly when black objects passed through a bright-colored background. The human eye will perceive a series of sequential images displayed at a frequency of 30Hz (30 images, or frames, per second) as continuous, as is the case with movies (24 frames per second). Screen images displayed at 60Hz will offer even more comfortable viewing, but careful scrutiny will reveal a slight sense of "flickering", as is the case with the NTSC television standard (which displays at 60 frames per second). According to standards set by VESA (Video Electronics Standards Association), the frequency necessary to achieve flicker-free display with a CRT is 72Hz. Most VGA cards and software applications, in order to accommodate the use of CRT monitors, have working frequencies set at 75Hz. In the past, the LCD monitors with 16ms response time that predominated in the market supported frequencies only up to 63Hz (1/0.016), making their display performance inferior to that of CRT monitors. Avid gamers therefore continued to use CRT monitors."

28" LCD Monitor with HDMI - $282 shipped!

(sells a whole lot of other computer items, too)

Or Try Seized Electronics Listings (really great deals on used LCD monitors, and a lot more electronics, great holiday gifts for lot less)