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Choosing a new Monitor

The first choice to make, CRT or LCD?

The first choice you will have to make when you have decided to purchase a new monitor is what type of monitor you are looking for. The two main choices are CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) and the LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) some LCD monitors may be referred to as TFT (Thin Film Transistor), these are higher quality LCD displays that use an active matrix, more on this later.

The CRT monitors are a cheaper solution and can be purchased in much larger sizes and with higher resolutions than their LCD counterparts. The advantages of the LCD screens is that they are flat screens and require no tube. This means that they have a very thin casing and don't take up much space on the desktop, they are also favoured for there sharp picture quality and lower power consumption. This is why they used to be only found in notebooks and laptop computers. Now the price has come down many people are choosing to go with LCD/TFT screen on there desktop machines.

What is a monitors resolution?

The resolution of your monitor is the number of coloured pixels that your monitor can display. For example if your monitor was capable of displaying 1024x768 pixels it means that it would be able to display 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically. Overall this would give you a total of 786,432 pixels on screen to display your picture. As you can imagine a screen capable of displaying more pixels and so a higher resolution will be able to show larger images and have more space on its desktop to have more windows open and visible. Be careful here though because if you have a high resolution on a small screen you will likely to find that everything is too small to see.

What is Dot Pitch

The Dot Pitch basically refers to the space between the pixels on the screen. With a CRT screen it refers to the distance between the holes in the shadow mask or steel grill. For LCD screen it refers to the distance between the pixels of the same colour. The dot pitch is very important in terms of image quality. If the dots are too far apart then the image becomes grainy and you can distinguish the individual dots on the screen which can be quite annoying especially in games. Have the dots close together and you will get a very sharp image that can look like a picture on the wall at the best of times with no graininess.

Common sizes of dot pitch range from .31mm down to .25mm. Its easy to remember the smaller the number the better here. Monitors that have a smaller dot pitch usually have higher resolutions as they can fit more pixels on the screen at once.

What is your monitors refresh rate?

The monitors refresh rate is how many times the screen can be "refreshed" in a second. For example if your monitor has a refresh rate of 70Hz (Hertz) then it will be refreshed 70 times every second. The faster the refresh rate the less you notice the screen being refreshed. If you have set a refresh rate that is too low you may notice a slight or even a drastic flickering effect on screen. This is not only annoying but can lead to headaches and eye strains.

The refresh rate is linked directly to the resolution of your monitor. If you set high resolutions on your monitor it has more pixels to scan and therefore takes longer to complete a full pass of your screen. This in turn lowers the maximum refresh rate that you can achieve.

Colour Depth

Colour depth today has become less of a buying issue as nearly all monitors can handle a colour depth of 24-bits. 24-bit colour can represent 16.77 million colours on screen. There have been older technologies that shot 65,000 colours 256 colours and 16 colours. You will be able to choose these modes but 24-bit colour also known as true colour will provide the best looking picture.

Display technologies VGA vs DVI

The two main display technologies today are the long standing VGA standard and the new DVI standard. VGA (Video Graphics Array) has been around for almost ever and is a solid standard of transmitting a video signal to your monitor. VGA is however an analogue standard and so it doesn't work with the new line if digital LCD monitors that have hot the stores in recent years. This is where DVI (Digital Visual Interface) comes into play.

VGA converts a digital signal into analogue for the CRT monitors to understand. The DVI technology allows the signal to stay as a digital one and therefore there is no loss or degradation of signal from the video card to the monitor. If you have a video card that supports DVI then my advice is to purchase a DVI compatible monitor for a far better signal and picture quality.

About the Author: Stephen Orgill

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