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According to the Dell tech. specifications for your Inspiron 3800:
your laptop does indeed have a 15-pin video connector. This connector
is industry-standard across PCs and compatibles, and just about any
monitor manufactured for PCs should have this connector. The telltale
sign of this connector on your computer is that, unlike most of the
other connectors that are "packaged" similarly, this connector has
three rows of pins/holes instead of two.
If you go monitor shopping and the customer associate asks you what
kind of connector you need on your monitor, you can just say that your
computer has a "standard VGA connector" and they should know what
you're talking about, and be able to find a unit that meets your
needs. The truth is that it's mostly Macintoshes and high-end
industry-specific computers that deviate from the VGA-connector
standard, so you shouldn't have any trouble finding a monitor that
will work--in fact, you may not even be asked what kind of connector
you need, once the customer associate learns you're looking for a
monitor for a PC.
That being said, just about any VGA-compatible monitor you can choose
will work with both your current laptop and any new PC compatible you
are likely to buy. You could even buy an old $70 clunker of a CRT
monitor, and it would work fine.
Here's some general information on how to choose a monitor:
Your current computer supports a maximum resolution of either 800x600
(if it has a 12 inch screen) or 1024x768 (if it has a 14 inch screen).
Just about every monitor these days supports 1024x768 resolution, so
that shouldn't be a problem--but this is probably the lowest
resolution you want to settle for. If you get a larger monitor, you'll
want it to have a higher maximum resolution. Common wisdom has that a
15-inch monitor should have at least 1024x768 resolution; a 17-inch,
1280x1024; and a 19-inch 1600x1200. Higher resolution affords you more
"real estate" on your desktop, but it can also make text and icons
smaller and harder to read. There are settings in Windows, though,
where you can adjust text sizes, if you desire.
As for flat-screen monitors (and here I'm assuming you mean LCD or
"flat panel" monitors and the like, rather than "flat screen" CRTs,
which are not much different from traditional monitors), here's some
information on how to shop for them:
Flat-screen monitors offer a lot of advantages over traditional CRT
monitors--they are much lighter, they use a lot less power, and they
can give a very sharp, vivid picture--however, there are some
disadvantages. First of all, they are extremely costly, easily several
times the price of a comparable CRT, and price increases geometrically
with size: 15 inch monitors can go for about $300, 17-inch for about
$450, and 19-inch for upwards of $800. Other issues to be aware of
include the fact that some flat-screens don't "scale up" the
resolution if they are run at a lower resolution than they are
designed--that is, on some flat screens, if the monitor has a maximum
resolution of 1024x768, a signal from the computer running at 800x600
will display in the center of the screen surrounded by a black border,
rather than stretched out to the screen's edges. Also, flat screen
monitors can vary considerably in their brightness, and their ability
to update the screen quickly without "ghosting" effects (this can make
movies and fast-moving video games hard to view). There is also the
tendency (as you may have noticed with your laptop monitor) for
individual pixels or rows of pixels to die on a flat-screen.
Production of LCD monitors is constantly improving, though, so these
issues are less of a problem than they used to be.
You should definitely check out this previous Answer by haversian-ga
on how to select a flat-screen monitor.
Here also are some handy guides on how to select a monitor in general:
I hope this answers your question! If any questions remain or if
anything is unclear, please request a clarification and I will do my
best to answer more completely.
Google search terms:
<buying flat-screen monitor>
Froogle search terms:
<15 inch lcd monitor>
<17 inch lcd monitor>
<19 inch lcd monitor>
Dell webpage search: