How to Pick a Good LCD (continued)

Color Depth: Almost all LCDs today are 6-bit or 8-bit LCDs. This means that each subpixel - Red, Green, and Blue - can display one of 2 to the n shades where n represents the number of pixels. A typical 8-bit LCD can produce 256 shades per pixel, or 16.7M color combinations. A 6-bit LCD panel can display 64 shades per subpixel, and since there are three subpixels per pixel, the monitor can display 262,000 color combinations per pixel. This is generally OK for gaming, but certainly not acceptable for any graphics development. Personally, I enjoy seeing the other 98% of the 24-bit color spectrum.

Brightness: Brightness is fortunately an easy specification to remember. More is better, particularly on LCDs with higher resolution. Even though your LCD might have six bulbs behind the substrate, a very small fraction of that light actually filters through the liquid crystal. Although, the measurement of "candela per meter squared" or "cd/m2" or "nits" all refer to the amount of light that actually passes through the front of the monitor at a 90 degree angle.

Viewing Angle: Viewing angle generally has a lot to do with the display mode of an LCD. You may wish to check out our LCD FAQ from a year ago that went through a lot of the basics of LCD design, particularly the pages on how LCD substrates work. Differing display modes utilize differing methods for twisting the LCD crystals - TN, PVA and SIPS are just a few. When LCDs were new, there were large issues with getting light to pass through the substrate at more angles than just 90 degrees head on, and for a short period of time, it was important that LCDs have some viewing angle. However, almost all LCDs today (and for the last 3 years or so) have viewing angles that are wide enough for anyone to look at the LCD from any (sane) angle. Unless you spend a lot of time looking at your monitor from 3 feet away, 60 degrees off center and at a 45 degree incline, don't worry about viewing angle so much when buying an LCD. We generally only mention viewing angle in our reviews if something seems amiss.

Contrast Ratios: Contrast measurements were originally supposed to quantify the difference between the lightest light and the darkest dark on the LCD. For example, if a black portion of the screen has a brightness of 0.5 cd/m2, and a white portion has a brightness of 250 cd/m2, then the monitor would have a contrast level of 500:1. Almost immediately, this measurement has been abused; manufacturers can take these measurements on angles to assure darker darks and brighter brights. Furthermore, other manufacturers take these measurements in different light settings and with different test pattern (some take measurements with the screen completely dark, while others take measurements with the screen in a checkerboard pattern). Unfortunately, relying on manufacturer Contrast Ratios too heavily during a purchase will probably lead you astray. To correct that, we will run a standardized test in our lab that tests contrast ratios of all of our LCDs in controlled situations.

So far, we covered only the introductory basics in shopping for an LCD. Footprint, features and rotation capabilities are all important as well, but don't be awed by monitors with features that you will never use. Paying $50 extra for MagicBright or a TV tuner only makes sense if you're going to use it.

How to Pick a Good LCD Buying an LCD
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  • xann - Monday, January 14, 2008 - link

    it is like:
    640*480 1 :1
    800*600 1,25 :1,25
    1024*768 1,6 :1,6
    1152*864 1,8 :1,8
    1280*1024 2 :2,13

    1600*1200 2,5 :2,5

    1440*900 2,25 :1,87
    1680*1050 2,625 :2,1875
    1920*1200 3 :2,5
    2560*1600 4 :3,33333

    wide screen resolutions are not one on one.
    i look for 19" LCD with res 1600*1200

    Reply
  • xann - Monday, January 14, 2008 - link

    it is like:
    640*480 1 :1
    800*600 1,25 :1,25
    1024*768 1,6 :1,6
    1152*864 1,8 :1,8
    1280*1024 2 :2,13

    1600*1200 2,5 :2,5


    1440*900 2,25 :1,87
    1680*1050 2,625 :2,1875
    1920*1200 3 :2,5
    2560*1600 4 :3,33333
    Reply
  • Cay - Friday, December 17, 2004 - link

    One of the main reasons I think PVA is in a completely different league regarding response time compared to TN/IPS, is this guide by X-Bit Labs.

    http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/other/display/lcd...
    Reply
  • Cay - Friday, December 17, 2004 - link

    The tips at the start were great though, and pointed out several important things I'd have overlooked otherwise. Reply
  • Cay - Friday, December 17, 2004 - link

    This review wasn't very useful to me, frankly. It contains too much subjective talk, and barely any data. I miss the following:

    .) For each panel, clearly state the technology used (TN, M/PVA, IPS), as well as if it's 8 or 6 bit. This gives more meaningful information than all the manufacturer specs.

    .) Screen photographs of select, demanding images taken under the same conditions. Here, I want to see how each image looks like on EACH screen, not just 3 samples total.

    Printer reviews do this well. You can dedicate one HTML page for each test image (eg 1 for the Max Payne scene, 1 for the Morrowind pic), and put the results from different monitors right below each other. This would allow me to directly compare how still images look like. At the end of the image block, you can put your comments.

    With well-chosen test images, this might give a pretty complete idea of how good a monitor's still image/color quality/contrast is.

    .) A meaningful measurement of response time.
    When you claim to "not notice any difference" between a PVA and a TN panel, I have to conclude that the Anandtech crew is much less sensitive to response time than most people. That's great for you, but bad for me - I'm not getting any response time information.

    Build a device to measure all gray-black or grey-grey response times. Tom's Hardware and X-Bit have some you can use for inspiration.

    Just including this measurement does not mean that you have to emphasize its importance. You can put it in a section together with your subjective response time interpretation.
    Reply
  • 610 - Tuesday, December 14, 2004 - link

    Is the NuTech L921G currently available in the US?

    The article says that the review unit was not store-bought, but doesn't specify how it was obtained. I've found only one site anywhere that claims to sell it, and it's not listed in any of the usual price-comparison sites (like PriceScan, for example).
    Reply
  • KristopherKubicki - Monday, December 13, 2004 - link

    ecove:

    I believe all of the monitors you mentioned use the same AUO panel. Performance will be very similar.

    Hope that helps,

    Kristopher
    Reply
  • ecove - Thursday, December 09, 2004 - link

    I've noticed in researching 19" LCDs that there are a number of models from various manufacturers (eg Princeton LCD19D, CTX S962A/G, Advueu ADV190DT) that all share what appear to be identical specs to the Nu and Viewsonic models reviewed here. Is it a safe assumption that these monitors all share the same panel and have essentially the same performance? Reply
  • stephenbrooks - Tuesday, December 07, 2004 - link

    That sample blue image on the penultimate page really made me worry about the LCD I'm using to view it here because it looked terribly dithered! Fortunately I realised the image you showed there was actually a 256-colour GIF (?!) of the image you should have used.
    Reply
  • R3MF - Tuesday, December 07, 2004 - link

    @ #69 -
    agreed, i would like to see what the Dell 1905FP is like too.........

    @ #87 -
    yes, the Dell 1905FP is rated at 20ms, and while it may not be best for games like UT2k4, but what about games like Mafia and Rome: TW where twitch gaming is irrelevant?

    REMF
    Reply

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