That's not a problem. I've just learned to be very careful about the
assumptions I make regarding questions. Many times, what I consider
to be the only reasonable interpretation of what someone's said turns
out to be completely at odds with what was intended.
With that out of the way, on to monitors!
As I'm sure you've noticed, CRTs are big and heavy and use a lot of
power but are also cheap and generally of good quality. In contrast,
LCDs are svelte and efficient but expensive and vary quite a bit in
The way LCDs work is that a relatively few manufacturers (Samsung, LG
Philips, etc.) have huge plants in Asia cranking out LCD panels as
fast as they possibly can. Some of those get used to make Samsung or
Philips monitors, but many get sold to third parties and incorporated
into other less-well-known manufacturers' displays. There are several
different technologies for producing the panels, each with pros and
cons. Generally speaking though, each new technology is better in all
respects than its predecessors so it is not essential to understand
the differences between the various techniques.
One side-effect of the same panel finding its way into many different
manufacturers' displays is that you can get expensive panels from a
well-known manufacturer that are no better than the cheaper displays
from a relative unknown. On the other hand, the panel is only half
the equation. There are some complicated electronics which control
the panel, and these of course have their effect on final image
quality as well. Personally, I tend to stick with the better-known
manufacturers (Samsung, Philips, Kingston, Viewsonic, Dell) for
reasons I'll get to below.
My advice for choosing LCDs is, first and foremost, LOOK AT IT. Go to
a store (it doesn't matter which one, really) and take a look at the
displays. Try to find a CRT displaying the same thing to compare to.
Usually you'll see either ads for the store you're already in, or a
movie, being displayed on a wall of monitors. Compare an expensive
CRT to the various LCDs and see which one looks best. Things you're
particularly looking for are dark colors, and light colors. Do the
dark colors fade to grey and stay there? Do lights blast off to
"white" before they should? Ghosting (fuzzy afterimages on the
trailing edge of moving objects on the screen) is not a big problem
these days except for really fast-moving things like games, but check
for it anyway. If you can, try to compare colors too. Color is the
big area where LCDs fall behind CRTs. Colors tend to be a bit
washed-out on LCDs, and not always very accurate.
On the other hand, LCDs don't flicker, and their pixels are sharp and
crisp rather than slightly blurry as on CRTs. In my experience this
makes reading text an absolute joy on LCDs, whereas movies look a
little blocky. Newer LCDs are better in this regard though.
I have direct experience with LCDs from Sony (an older one), Silicon
Graphics (an older one, but extremely expensive at the time, and quite
nice), Viewsonic, and Samsung, as well as the LCD on my IBM laptop.
In general, my experiences have been quite good. The LCDs can't stand
up to my nice Viewsonic CRT for color but otherwise they're very
comfortable to look at. The newer LCDs I have looked at are coming
along quite nicely.
If you're looking for slightly more objective information than walking
into a store and looking yourself, I have found that Cnet (of all
people) do some pretty comprehensive reviews of LCD monitors, and they
track fairly well with my own experience. And last but not least, add
an inch. A 15" LCD is the same size as a 16" CRT; an 18" LCD is the
same size as a 19" CRT.
Best of luck!
Clarification of Answer by
01 Feb 2004 13:32 PST
Many thanks for your generous rating and tip.
Your comments reminded me of something I intended to write about and didn't.
What if it does go pop? Or, more specifically, what if a few pixels
stop working, or if you get an LCD with a few nonfunctioning pixels?
Manufacturers warrant their LCDs to have at maximum a certain level of
dead pixels. Should the panel exceed whatever that level is, they'll
replace it if it's still under warranty. Resellers also warrant their
stuff; sometimes the warranty is better than the manufacturer's,
sometimes worse. For example, Newegg, a great company for buying a
great many things from, has a pretty awful LCD policy and I wouldn't
recommend buying LCDs from them.
LCDs are pretty darn good these days, and a great many are absolutely
perfect. However, if you're really worried about it, you can pay
retail price for the panel, and buy from someplace with an
unconditional return policy. Here in the states Best Buy has a very
generous return policy, so you can buy a panel, check for defects, and
return it if it's less than perfect, no matter what the manufacturer's
Hope you enjoy whatever monitor you choose