Articles: Monitors

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Last time we tested 19” LCD monitors on our website it was more than half a year ago and they have almost completely transformed into low-end products by now. Technologies utilized in such monitors have in fact stopped to progress further and the technological race is now replaced with a struggle of the manufacturers’ marketing and design departments.

This review is devoted to LCD monitors that have an aspect ratio of 5:4 and a native resolution of 1280x1024 pixels. They are often bought as inexpensive monitors for home or office work that does not call for an accurate reproduction of colors. Monitors with response time compensation (RTC) technology are also highly popular among gamers who appreciate their low response time as well as their not-very-high resolution that does not demand a super-fast and expensive graphics card. Moreover, the resolution of 1280x1024 pixels is supported by a majority of games some of which still cannot output normally onto widescreen monitors.

An overwhelming majority of 19” monitors available today are based on TN+Film matrixes. They feature the lowest response time, but the narrowest vertical viewing angle as well. When it comes to 19” monitors, this means that moving your head up and down just a little you’ll see the brightness (and, in the worst case, the color) of the top and bottom parts of the screen change. This has nothing to do with the backlighting. It is a problem of small viewing angles made more conspicuous due to monitors with the 5:4 aspect ratio being taller than widescreen displays.

Although modern TN matrixes have specified viewing angles of 160 degrees, which sounds to be enough, this number is arrived at by changing the measurement method. The viewing angles of S-IPS and *VA matrixes are measured by a contrast drop to 10:1. Those of TN matrixes are commonly measured by a contrast drop to 5:1. If the same method was used for all the matrix types, TN matrixes would have viewing angles of about 140 degrees in their specs.

Before I proceed, I’d want to remind you our testing methodology. We evaluate the following characteristics of LCD monitors: color reproduction quality (and the color gamut if the manufacturer claims it to be larger than common), response time (and the RTC error value if the monitor employs response time compensation), brightness and contrast. I want to particularly note that although I publish average values of response time and RTC error, these two should rather be considered through all the possible transitions because a few gross errors (or a few long transitions) mixed with a number of small ones will yield the same average as a lot of medium errors that will be much more conspicuous at everyday use of the monitor. If the monitor offers several outputs, we test it using a DVI connection because this interface is already widespread and transfers signal to the monitor in digital form, without undesired conversions.

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