Things are much more exciting in the 19” segment.
You are not limited to TN technology here. Although there are rather few monitors with other matrix types, they do exist. If you prefer *VA technology, you can choose from:
- BenQ FP91GP and FP93GP
- Acer AL1923
- Samsung SyncMaster 940T
- Samsung SyncMaster 940Fn (review)
- Samsung SyncMaster 971P (review)
- NEC MultiSync LCD1970NXp
- HP LP1965 (review)
The most interesting among these products are the monitors from Acer, Samsung and HP (the latter is hardly different from the SyncMaster 940Fn in its specified and real parameters, though). The monitors from BenQ are not quite ergonomic and should be viewed as the cheapest option with a *VA matrix while the NEC LCD1970NXp doesn’t have RTC and is rather slow as a result. Having a low price, the Acer differs from the BenQ models with its functional stand that offers height adjustment and portrait mode. The monitors from Samsung and HP not only feature a more functional stand than the BenQ models but also have a better-quality setup generally. Well, you shouldn’t expect a miraculous accuracy of color reproduction from any of them. The default setup quality is acceptable at best and can be improved manually to a good level, but not more than that. The main advantage of such models over TN-based monitors is excellent viewing angles, both horizontal and vertical.
The Samsung SyncMaster 971P, the most expensive model offered, stands out with its elegant and remarkable exterior design but not with technical parameters. Moreover, its response time is slower in reality than that of the cheaper SyncMaster 940T and 940Fn. You may want to buy this monitor if you care about the appearance of your PC components. If your priority is technical parameters, there wouldn’t be much sense in paying extra for the 971P.
The Samsung SyncMaster 940T was originally manufactured with a slow 25ms PVA matrix without Response Time Compensation, but now it comes with a fast RTC-enabled matrix whose real speed doesn’t differ from that of the 940Fn.
So, if you need a 19” monitor with really wide viewing angles, you can choose from the following models: Samsung 940T and 940Fn, HP LP1965 and Acer AL1923. The latter model is nicely inexpensive but may sometimes have a sloppy color reproduction setup (this seems to depend on the particular product batch and the version of the installed matrix). The other three are somewhat more expensive but have a consistent setup. If you are limited in your budget, you may want to consider the BenQ FP93GP. If you prefer beautiful things, you may like the Samsung SyncMaster 971P.
Well, as I have noted above, these monitors may be good for everyday work, but are far from being an etalon in terms of color reproduction. If you need as accurate colors as possible, you should choose between two models from NEC: MultiSync LCD1970NX (do not confuse it with the LCD1970NXp !) and MultiSync LCD1990SXi (review).
Both are based on S-IPS matrixes. This is in fact the only special feature of the LCD1970NX. It has a good setup and excellent viewing angles (S-IPS matrixes have no match here), so it is going to be a good choice for image-editing applications. The more advanced LCD1990SXi is a professional monitor with lots of extra capabilities and a very fine factory setup of color reproduction. It is in fact so accurate that most users won’t need to calibrate or adjust the monitor’s settings manually (except for the ordinary brightness and contrast). If good color reproduction is the number one priority for you, you should certainly take a look at the LCD1970NX and LCD1990SXi. Alas, everything has its price: the former of these monitors is about as expensive as 20” models with S-IPS matrixes while the latter is far more costly. The NEC MultiSync LCD1990SXi is a monitor for people who are absolutely sure what they want to get and are ready to pay for that.
Well, most users are going to be perfectly satisfied with TN-based monitors despite their smaller viewing angles. Moreover, there are so many different 19-inchers – in comparison with 17” models – that it is quite easy to find a monitor that combines the features you need. As for the price factor, 19” monitors are but slightly more expensive than 17-inchers today.
The freedom of choice begins with the native resolution even. 19” monitors with TN matrixes can have an aspect ratio of 5:4 (and a resolution of 1280x1024) or 16:10 (1440x900). The latter have a somewhat smaller screen area (as you can remember from your geometry classes at school, a square has the biggest area for a given diagonal), but if you are going to use your monitor for watching movies, a widescreen model may prove more convenient – what’s the purpose of the larger total area of a 5:4 monitor if there are wide black bands at the top and bottom of the standard movie frame (that has an aspect ratio of 16:9)?
Besides, widescreen monitors have a smaller pixel pitch. Many users think that pixels on standard 19-inchers are too large, making the image grainy and angular. This can be regarded as one more plus of widescreen monitors. Unfortunately, 19” widescreen models are manufactured with TN matrixes only as yet.
Early 19” monitors used to lack Response Time Compensation, but now there is quite a broad choice of monitors with fast matrixes, i.e. with a specified response time of 4 milliseconds and less (as I showed in my tests a lot of times, monitors with a specified response time prove to be twice or thrice as slow as 4ms models – the difference is much bigger than 25%). A typical and worthy representative of this class is the Samsung SyncMaster 940BW, a model with a low response time, adequate color reproduction and good ergonomics. It competes with the LG Flatron L196WTQ, but the latter didn't demonstrate uniform brightness in our review. If you want a monitor with a pretty appearance (and are ready to sacrifice the ergonomics for that), you may be interested in other products from Samsung such as SyncMaster 932GW or SyncMaster 961BW.
Most manufacturers, however, go on producing widescreen 19” monitors with rather slow matrixes whose average response amounts to 13-15 milliseconds. These are products from ASUS, Acer, ViewSonic, etc. They don’t differ much from the mentioned fast models in terms of price and often come without a digital DVI input. So, their advantages are rather vague in my eyes.
Of course, the market of 19” monitors with a classic aspect ratio of 5:4 and a screen resolution of 1280x1024 is developed just as well. Besides the relatively expensive models with *VA and IPS matrixes I mentioned at the beginning of this section, there are interesting offers among inexpensive TN-based products. Like with the widescreen monitors, there are two groups: with Response Time Compensation (a specified response time of 4 milliseconds and less) and without it (a specified response time of 5 milliseconds and more). The real difference in speed is two- or threefold, though.
There are actually no clear leaders in either group. Many companies offer appealing products. You can take a look at monitors from LG Electronics: the inexpensive L1953 series (it includes monitors with RTC and monitors without RTC), the elegant L1970 and the fanciful L1900. Samsung’s product range is no less interesting, though, including the inexpensive 940N and the beautiful 932BF.
The other manufacturers are, unfortunately, lagging behind these two Korean giants. ASUS’ monitors are interesting but not quite user-friendly (although the company is working on that and has been making some progress). Monitors from BenQ and Acer aren’t good in terms of ergonomics and exterior design while NEC’s ones are generally more expensive than their counterparts from other brands (the price of the 90GX2 Pro is especially impressive: being an ordinary gaming 19-incher with a TN matrix it is more expensive than some 20” models with *VA and S-IPS matrixes).
So, universal monitors with good viewing angles, functionality and response time:
- Acer AL1923
- Samsung SyncMaster 940T
- Samsung SyncMaster 940Fn (review)
Monitors for games and movies:
- Samsung SyncMaster 940BW (review)
- Other monitors from LG and Samsung with a response time of 4 milliseconds or lower
Monitors with good color reproduction for reasonable money:
- Look among 20” models with S-IPS matrixes
Monitors with uncompromising color reproduction:
- NEC MultiSync LCD1990SXi (review)