Articles: Monitors

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Innumerable CRT vs. LCD discussions touch upon a lot of different aspects of PC monitors such as response time, contract ratio, color reproduction, weight and dimensions, but tend to omit the factor of screen size.

When the CRT technology ruled the computer world, mainstream models used to have screen diagonals of 19 to 22 inches. And we should keep it in mind that it was the diagonal of the cathode-ray tube rather than of the displayed image that was specified. The diagonal of the displayed image varied from 18” to 20” for the mentioned models. Although there existed larger monitors like the Sony GDM-FW900, a widescreen CRT monitor with a specified diagonal of 24” and an image diagonal of 22.5”, they were not really popular due to their weight. The FW900 used to weigh as much as 42kg!

CRT monitors with larger diagonals were produced as single samples (for example, I heard about 29” CRTs but never saw them alive). They were not selling freely due to unacceptable weight/size parameters. It was not possible to reduce the weight of CRT monitors and it grew up more quickly than the screen diagonal: the larger the tube (which contains vacuum), the larger and thicker its glass must be made to withstand the atmospheric pressure. The developers of CRTs for TV-sets began to make them shorter by means of a bigger deflection of the electronic beam, but this method does not work with PC monitors: the bigger this deflection is, the more difficult it is to set up the geometry and convergence correctly, with the ensuing consequences for the image quality. And anyway, TV-sets aren’t light. 29” models, even with short CRTs, are as heavy as 45-50kg.

Thus, the absence of CRT monitors with a picture size of 24” even in the best years of that technology was not due to their price or excessively large resolution or anything, but due to unreasonable weight of such products for both home users and a majority of corporate ones. Just imagine yourself using a monitor that weighs over 50 kilos and has two carry handles on the sides of the case! At a certain moment, the further increase in size would produce not a heavy monitor, but an unacceptably heavy monitor.

LCD monitors are free from the heaviest detail which was the huge and thick glass casing of the CRT. An LCD panel is in fact a very delicate arrangement made out of numerous thin films (filters, polarizers, liquid crystals, and a glass wafer), a few fluorescent lamps, and a thin metallic casing. It does not have massive parts, especially such parts whose weight would increase rapidly along with their size. I mean that making the screen diagonal longer requires enlarging the area of the employed parts, but not their thickness or robustness. They do not have to withstand the atmospheric pressure or their own heavy weight as it was the case with the cathode-ray tube.

As a result, the industry is now limited not by technology but only by market factors, i.e. by the balance between price and demand. The market will be offering ever larger monitors as long as the manufacturing cost of LCD panels is going down (which depends upon setting up new fabs capable of processing larger parts and upon developing other accompanying technologies). And this will continue until a further increase in size is meaningless. How large can LCD panels be, anyway? Just take a look at LCD TV-sets: 40” models have long become common among them.

To be more specific, a 19” monitor is regarded as a common inexpensive device today. 22” models are popular, and 24” ones are going to catch the spotlight soon because there have appeared rather inexpensive 24” TN matrixes – although with poor viewing angles in comparison with S-IPS or *VA, TN technology enjoys stable demand due to its low price. And if you need an even bigger screen and can afford spending an appropriate sum of money, you are offered models with diagonals up to 30”, and not even as single samples but as a choice from among quite a lot of different models. A few of such extra large products are going to be discussed in this review.

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