Articles: Monitors

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Color accuracy is not described in a standard monitor specification. Talking about color accuracy we mean the ability of the monitor to reproduce those colors that we expect to see, without distorting them. Alas, this parameter depends on the specific model or even specific batch of the monitor. You can’t tell how good the color accuracy is by the monitor’s specification.

Alas, most of today’s TN-based monitors have low color accuracy. They often have a strong deflection towards blue, and this drawback cannot be corrected fully with the monitor’s settings. You need to use a hardware calibrator or set your graphics card up by means of appropriate software.

Talking about color reproduction, the manufacturer may mean the color gamut which is expressed in percent of the standard NTSC gamut (a typical CRT or LCD monitor has a color gamut of 72-75% NTSC). A color gamut is the range of colors potentially available on the given monitor. However, it does not guarantee the correctness of reproduction of those colors (e.g. that you won’t get pink instead of gray).

Viewing angles of TN matrixes are traditionally small as I already wrote above. To be exact, this refers to one angle mostly: the vertical angle when viewed from below. The horizontal viewing angles of modern TN matrixes are quite wide and don’t become a problem in everyday applications. You may also have noticed that the manufacturers have been steadily improving the specified value. TN-based monitors with specified viewing angles of 170/170° can already be seen. Is there some kind of a trick here? Yes and no. On one hand, the TN technology has been improving over the years and the viewing angles have been getting wider indeed. But on the other hand, the measurement method is devised in such a way that the resulting value depends on the matrix’s contrast ratio. The higher the contrast ratio, the larger the specified value is. As the result, TN matrixes are still inferior to VA and IPS matrixes in terms of real viewing angles just like they were a year ago.

Thus, the specification gives you a notion of the monitor’s real parameters (whether it has dynamic contrast, response time compensation, an extended color gamut, etc), but it does not provide a full picture. And it wouldn’t be wise to buy a monitor basing on the official specification only.

Anyway, I will name a few models worthy of your consideration if you are looking for a 19-inch LCD monitor. I will discuss widescreen models only (mostly with a native resolution of 1440x900 pixels) because I think them more convenient for work and games, let alone for movies.

If you prefer classic design solutions with good ergonomics, you can take a look at Samsung’s B series. At the SyncMaster 943BW, to be specific. With its restrained exterior design, handy controls and height-adjusting stand, the 943BW is among the best office-oriented 19-inchers. The SyncMaster 943NW is cheaper but lacks screen height adjustment and a DVI input. Besides everything else, Samsung’s monitors traditionally have two advantages. In my experience, they are the most stable and predictable in operation and parameters. And second, their MagicBright feature is the best implementation of quick adjustment of brightness (with a press of a button) that I have ever seen.

You can also take a look at the business series from Acer represented by the B193W ymdh model (I wonder why they invent such hard-to-remember, hard-to-spell letter indexes). This one has a neat exterior design, a stand with height adjustment, and handy controls, too.

If you want a high resolution for little money, consider the ASUS VW198T that has a native resolution of 1680x1050 pixels. I wouldn’t recommend buying the cheaper VW198S because it lacks a DVI input, which may lead to problems with image sharpness.

Generally speaking, I strongly recommend using a digital connection even for a resolution of 1440x900. This will simplify the setting-up of the monitor and prevent any sharpness related problems. After all, monitors with a DVI interface are quite cheap nowadays.

As for home-oriented models with attractive design, the Samsung SyncMaster T190 comes to my mind first. It features a superb exterior as well as good setup quality. Unfortunately, the cheaper varieties, T190N and T190GN, are more widespread now, but they lack a DVI input.

ViewSonic tries to compete with Samsung with its VX1962wm model. I guess the designers have overdone it with the “stem-of-the-glass” stand: it looks elegant but holds the screen too high up. It strains the eyes when the screen is so high.

And if you equally dislike smooth outlines and simple square boxes, you may be interested in the Acer X193WSD and P193W Awd which share an original and remarkable exterior.

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