Articles: Monitors

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While our previous review of 19” LCD monitors was about models with a screen aspect ratio of 5:4 and a native resolution of 1280x1024 pixels, this review will be concerned with widescreen 19” monitors that have an aspect ratio of 16:10 and a native resolution of 1440x900 pixels. 19” monitors with a larger pixel pitch and a resolution of 1280x768 are not selling anymore – the manufacturers have transitioned to matrixes that provide roughly the same total of pixels as 5:4 models (1.3 million against 1.31 million pixels). Widescreen models prove to be more convenient for users for several reasons.

It is easier to organize your workspace on a wide screen. It is more comfortable to watch widescreen video formats most movies are recorded in. When such video is being reproduced on a wide screen, there are only narrow black areas at the top and bottom left (because the aspect ratio of a movie frame is 16:9 as opposed to the screen aspect ratio of 16:10), but on an ordinary screen these black areas are quite large. Or you lose less information on the sides of the frame if you scale it up to fill the whole screen. It is also easier to work in image-editing programs since you’ve got some place at the side of the screen to put various toolsets, palettes, menus, etc into. It is also simpler with multiple documents: you can place two text windows next to each other and the text will still be readable.

Widescreen monitors are also better in terms of ergonomics. You can easily put one on your desk so that the top edge the screen was not higher than your eye level. This reduces your eye strain and prevents your eyes from drying out (if your eyes are cast downwards, they are half-covered by the lids). The eye also finds it easier to move horizontally than vertically.

Regrettably, all 19” widescreen monitors are based on TN matrixes as opposed to models with larger diagonals among which you can see *VA and S-IPS matrixes as well. The wideness of the screen helps conceal the narrow vertical viewing angle typical of TN matrixes, yet it doesn’t solve this problem completely. I won’t mention this parameter in the body of the article considering that all the monitors in this review have almost identical viewing angles (the difference in their specified viewing angles is due to the employed measurement method; as a matter of fact, the real viewing angles of all the tested monitors are far inferior to the angles provided by monitors with PVA and S-IPS matrixes). In fact, all 19” widescreen monitors fall into two groups: fast ones with Response Time Compensation and slow ones without RTC.

I want to remind you our testing methodology in brief. Besides giving you a subjective evaluation of the monitor’s exterior design and usability, we test its color reproduction quality, color gamut, response time (and the RTC error level if the monitor features RTC technology), and brightness and contrast ratio. I want to warn you against comparing monitors basing on the average values of response time or RTC error. A monitor may have a low average RTC error but with a few long transitions that are going to be quite conspicuous in practice.

We now publish gamma curve diagrams in static format, but you can click them to open the diagram in the old animated view. The static image shows a theoretical curve corresponding to gamma 2.2 and the monitor’s own curves (colored red, green and blue) measured with a calibrator.

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