The monitor is perhaps the most important element of any computer setup, you spend all the time you are at your PC looking at it and it directly impacts on the experience you have with your computer. Unfortunately the monitor is also often the most overlooked component. Only several years ago CRT monitors were the most popular and cost effective screen to be looking at. However due to their bulky size and high freight costs they have rapidly fallen out of favour since the lower cost TFT screens have come to market. There are TFT screens available for every budget and with good quality HD resolution screens now available for under £100.00 there has never been a better time to upgrade to a widescreen HD monitor.
There are three main panel technologies currently in use in LCDs. They are twisted nematic (TN), vertical alignment (VA) and in-plane switching (IPS). The majority of all the screens made by the large manufacturers are based on the TN panels due to their cost.
Most LCD monitors use a col cathode florescent tube (CCFL) as their backlight of choice although more and more manufacturers are now embracing LE backlight technology. Some manufacturers advertise a LED screen although this is often just a LCD with LED backlighting as LED and LCD technologies are not mutually exclusive.
There are different types of LED backlight which are suitable for ultra-slim monitors, pinpoint colour reproduction or low power usage. The main benefits however to the end user are much simpler. CCFL technology uses lots of toxic mercury in its production and as such can be a danger to the environment. LED backlights contain no mercury and can be recycled considerably easier. For most people buying a LED based monitor it will offer lower power consumption and be easier to dispose of at the end of its life.
The resolution of a LCD monitor is dictated quite heavily by the monitor size. Normally the bigger the monitor you purchase the higher its resolution will be, the higher the resolution of the screen the better the fonts and sharpness of the picture will look. At higher resolutions items appear sharper yet they also appear smaller so more items can fit on the screen.
The brightness rating is a measurement of how much light a panel can produce. Luminance is expressed as candelas per square meter. A measurement of 200 to 250 is ok for most office and home tasks while 300 to 400 will produce a superb image that is great for movies and gaming.
When purchasing a monitor one of the most important features to consider are the included monitor ports. Many years ago a monitor would just have a VGA connection that would be suitable for all uses; a modern screen however can have an almost unfathomable amount of different connections.
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