In lesson 1 we’ll cover LCD monitors, what features and specs to look for when shopping, and how much you can expect to pay.
Picture quality is determined by 4 factors, resolution, brightness, contrast ratio and response time.
The image you’re looking at now is made up of hundreds of thousands of individual picture elements, or pixels for short. The sharpness or detail comes down to the number and size of the pixels a monitor can display.
The response time of a monitor comes from how many times a second the screen is updated. If the screen isn’t updated fast enough you will see ghosting in the image.
Response times for monitors run from 2ms to 16ms and lower the better. 5ms is a good minimum.
TN vs IPS
There are two types of LCD used by the majority of manufactures. TN and IPS. There are several types of IPS panels (S-IPS, P-IPS, H-IPS, etc.) but it comes down to this. TN panels are cheaper and have faster response times. IPS panels are much more expensive and have better color with slower response times. If true color reproduction is more important to you than response time and you have the money get an IPS panel monitor. If you are more into games and watching videos save your money and get a TN panel monitor.
When you shop for your monitor if the description or the features don’t say IPS it is a TN panel monitor. If you want an IPS monitor the description or features will say the type of IPS it uses.
Screen sizes for monitors range from 17 to 30 inches. The larger the screen, the more you’ll pay for the monitor.
When it comes to the size of the screen we recommend at least a 19 inch display. A monitor of this size runs between 100 and 250 dollars, depending on the quality of the display. The sweet spot for size vs cost is currently a 23” monitor. You can get a very good one for around $160.
Some monitors also have smaller outside boarders making them better for multi monitor set ups where you connect 2 or more monitors to your video card to make your desktop in Windows larger and run programs side by side. You can even mix and match regular and wide screen monitors if you like.
See the video card component lesson for more on connecting multiple monitors.
Computer monitors are generally very reliable and will last for many years. That said, it’s best to buy a monitor with at least a 3 years parts and labor warranty.
This level of warranty is standard for most manufacturers, but not all. So be sure to check the warranty coverage before buying a monitor.
Buying a Monitor
When you buy a LCD monitor there is no shortage of choices. Below are several sites that will help you find the lowest price from a reputable merchant.