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So, we have added another dozen of LCD monitors into our “tested” folder, and it was the first time we measured the response time characteristic both on black-to-white and on black-to-gray transitions. This testing has produced some interesting point for discussion.

My main conclusion arising from the test results is the following: the response time, a universal characteristic of an LCD monitor, cannot describe an LCD monitor thoroughly. Moreover, if a matrix A has smaller full response time than a matrix B, it doesn’t necessarily mean that A is better than B. The point has been confirmed through comparison of popular 16msec matrixes with allegedly slower 25msec ones. It turns out the 16msec matrixes can only reach those 16msec on transitions between black and white (or brightest) colors. As for transitions like black-to-50% gray, a 16msec matrix often shows the same response time as a 25msec one.

Note also that 16msec matrixes available today generally have smaller viewing angles and worse color reproduction compared to slower ones. So, this is my practical advice: even if you are searching for an LCD monitor to play games on, and the response time becomes the most important factor, do consider 25msec matrixes, too. In practice, they would display dynamic images much in the same way as 16msec matrixes.

You have also just seen that certain manufacturers may use different matrixes in the same monitor models. For example, newer matrixes may replace older ones, although this is not indicated in the model number.

As for the specific monitors, we included into this roundup, I would split them into two categories: “gaming” monitors and “business” monitors.

The latter category includes only Samsung SyncMaster 171T. It is very slow at black-to-dark-gray transitions, but offers wide viewing angles and excellent color reproduction. If you work in text processors, accounting software, development tools, image-processing programs, then SyncMaster 171T may be your choice, as this is the only monitor we’ve tested today with which you don’t have to worry about the angle of your line of sight.

The first category includes a host of various models remarkable for their fast matrix. It’s hard to name the best monitor in this category (but I know that the worst ones are the Prestigio models). They have similar parameters, so you choose a monitor with an appropriate functionality from the company that has a service center next to your home. These LCD monitors are doing nicely in games (of course, they can’t match CRT-monitors yet; the ghosting effect will go away no sooner than we get 10msec matrixes), but less so in static applications. The manufacturers sacrifice the viewing angles to achieve higher speeds. With some models, you can hardly find a position for your head so that the entire screen could be shining with the same brightness.

Regrettably, there are no “ideal” LCD monitors, yet. I mean a display that would have good viewing angles and a pixel response time of 30msec and lower in any conditions. An ideal model in my humble opinion would have real viewing angles of 160 degrees in both directions, perform pixel color transitions in 30msec or less, and use 24-bit color reproduction without dithering (16.7 million colors). Until that, we have to make the choice between game and work. I only hope the manufacturers would hear my calling.

Appendix: Color Coordinates of the RGB Filters (CIE x, y)

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