Articles: Monitors

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I’ll talk about two classes of LCD monitors, to be exact. About monitors with a diagonal of 30 inches which have been around for a long time already. And about 27” monitors that have appeared just recently. The latter are meant to fill in the gap between 24” and 30” models. This gap amounts to $600-1000 depending on particular models, which allows introducing an intermediary solution that splits this gap in two. 27” monitors are accompanied with 26” models as a consequence of different approaches of the matrix manufacturers: LG and AU Optronics developed 26” matrixes using S-IPS and A-MVA technologies, respectively, whereas Samsung introduced 27-inchers made with S-PVA technology. I can’t say that 27” models are definitely better – I’ll mention their drawbacks below.

Quite naturally, each of the monitors to be discussed is widescreen. As I wrote in my previous articles, the human eye is designed in such a way that a wide screen is more agreeable to it than a tall screen. The eye muscles get less strained when moving horizontally. Moreover, when you are long looking at the top of the screen, your eyes are not covered with the lids and get dry quickly (the eye is moistened by regular blinking, but we blink less frequently at work than in a relaxed state, hence the drying of the eyes). But when your glance is cast downwards, the eyes are always half-covered with the lids and do not tire that much. This had not been a problem with smaller screen diagonals, but monitors with an aspect ratio of 4:3 and 5:4 and a diagonal of 21” proved to be too tall for most users. A horizontally stretched Desktop is better to work with. Moreover, many users play games and watch movies on their PC and the wide screen ensures fuller immersion into the atmosphere of the game or movie whereas a bigger height of the screen does not affect the perception so much.

The monitors to be reviewed in this article have different native resolutions, though. 27-inchers have the same resolution as 24” models, i.e. 1920x1200 pixels, while 30-inchers moved up to 2560x1600 pixels. This is the reason why these seemingly similar monitors have one very important difference. Their pixel pitch differs by 20%. As a matter of fact, the pixel pitch of 27” monitors is among the largest of all LCD monitors ever produced while the pixel pitch of 30” ones is among the smallest.

The diagram above shows the pixel pitch of most LCD monitors ever produced. As you can see, the average – and currently the most comfortable – value is within 0.270-0.280 millimeters. 19” matrixes with native resolutions of 1600x1200 and 1280x768 pixels are at the ends of the range. No wonder such models did not ever really take off.

While the downside of a too large pixel is obvious (lines look rude and thick, fonts become angular, and there is less information on the screen than you may want from a monitor with a given diagonal), it is not so definite about small pixels. On one hand, the smaller the pixel is, the more detailed and smoother the onscreen picture can be (if you want an example, you can compare printouts made on a printer at 150, 300 and 600dpi, especially using some elegant fanciful font). Historically, however, the user interface of OSes and applications has been bound not to “normal” physical measurement units (i.e. millimeters or inches), but to pixels. That was not a problem for a CRT monitor, which did not have a strict correlation between the display resolution and the number of phosphor dots. You could just select a resolution that would be more comfortable for your eyes.

For an LCD monitor, there is one native resolution determined by its matrix. On one hand, it ensures an ideally sharp image. On the other hand, it does not allow setting the monitor’s resolution up flexibly.

Thus, if software uses pixels, rather than physical measurement units, to output to the monitor, the size of the output is directly proportional to the pixel pitch. In other words, if you replace your 27” monitor with a 30” one, the real size of fonts, buttons, windows, icons, etc. will diminish by 20%. And this 20% difference is very obvious to the eye.

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