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Subject: Monitors

Date: 20/June/2001

Ray Stankewitz

This newsletter is all about purchasing monitors. This subject came about like this: I needed a subject for this newsletter and a friend asked me which monitor is the best. I would like to start out with this statement: "There is no 1 best monitor". OK, so if you don't agree with me, flame me HERE, but hear me out.

The reason that I made that statement is that not everyone uses their computer the same way. OK, so with that out of the way, let's look at what you need to know about monitors to make an informed purchase.

The first place that we will start is with the location where your computer lives. Is there a finite area that the monitor has to live, such as the following example:

15 inch monitor in a hutch

Note that this is a 15" monitor in a crowded hutch (mine!) at home. There isn't much room in the opening that the monitor sits in to go bigger than maybe a 17" monitor.

Or do you have no restrictions as to the size of your monitor's real estate?

19 inch monitor on a desktop setup

Note that this is 19" monitor on a large computer cart (mine!) at the office. I have at least enough room by measuring to take a 25" monitor. (Lotsa Real Estate to spread apps out on!) I could even get fancier by using 2(!) 19" NEC monitors as I do have the room with the speakers on top of the monitors.

What you will need to know is how much room you have for a monitor. Measure your space and take a tape measure with you when you go to purchase a monitor. This will help prevent the "It doesn't fit" syndrome from striking your purchase.

Now that we know just how big we can go, how do we know just how big of a monitor we need? I will put it this way-what are you doing with your computer the most? If you are doing graphics, a 19" monitor is the smallest I will recommend. If you are just sending e-mail, the maybe a 15" monitor is OK. Here is a good tip to choosing a monitor-sit at your computer at home and measure just how far you sit from the monitor. Where you measure from is not important, just make it consistent. How do the monitors in the store look? The store does have them set up where you can see what the display looks like, doesn't it? Get the distance that you measured and look at the display-how does it look? Is it crisp or blurry? These are questions that you will have to answer for yourself.

Here is some more info-there are some things that you may be confused by. The advertisement says 19"/18.1" viewable. What this means it that even though the tube is 19", only 18.1" of it is visible. Part of the tube is hidden behind the front of the housing for your monitor.

LCD monitors on the other hand will say just one size because the whole useable display area is used and not masked by the housing. What you can't see is the area where all the electrical connections are made.

.25mm dot pitch (or whatever the number given). This indicates the center to center measurement of the dots (in millimeters) that light up to make the picture. I highly recommend that you get one that is .26mm or smaller. .27mm pitch and higher will not look very good. This is important if you run your monitor at very high resolutions such as 1024 X 768 or higher.

XXX by XXX resolution-this means that the maximum resolution that the screen can go to measured in pixels. Normal default resolution for Windows© is 640 X 480. Most people leave this at the default because most documentation doesn't say how to change it. I run my 15" screen (13.8" viewable) at 800 X 600 resolution. The 19" screen (18.1" viewable) I run at 1024 X 768 resolution. Unless you are doing serious graphics work, you could stay away from the really top end monitors and look at 17"-21", max resolution of 1600 X 1200.

One note here-If it is a (big) 19"-22" monitor that says max resolution is 1024 X 768 or close to this number, this is a monitor that really will not look good. It doesn't have enough pixels for a big display. I recommend that you see the monitor in action and play with it before you purchase it. Ask the store clerk to change the resolutions to see what it can do.

About LCD flat monitors-do you need one? Only if you have a big budget and really need the extra area gained by using the LCD monitor. The cheapest ones are just now dipping under $500.00, and some of them don't look good except in their native (default) resolution. I am not sure if I would get one just yet-I will wait until the resolution/price thing settles down.

Well, now that I have totally confused you by all of this, I will add this final item. When you go to purchase that new monitor, take your owner's manual or the make and model of your computer so that your new monitor will be compatible with your existing computer. I hope that I have helped you with this article by making everything as clear as mud.

If you have any questions about this article, feel free to E-mail Me.

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