Selecting an LCD that’s right for you

Overall, quality in monitors has risen significantly over the last 18 months. Particularly, substrate production continues to improve. Granted, most new monitors might still come with one dead pixel. Be very wary of online vendors that claim trade-ins on “only 8 dead pixels!”

The important thing to remember about LCDs is that there really aren’t that many different kinds. They come in all sorts of shapes and colors, but generally, the different kinds of substrates remain small in number. Let us take a look at the main types of buyers we see looking for LCDs.

“Give me a recommendation for the best 20" 16ms response time LCD, cost is no issue!” — Unfortunately, this LCD does not exist. You can buy larger LCDs in the 20” range that don’t have large problems with motion blur, but unfortunately, even your 16ms monitor will blur a little anyway. For those who still think they need a 20" LCD, the Dell 2000FPs are generally the industry standard in that range.

“Give me a recommendation for the best 20" 1600x1200 LCD, cost is no issue!” — Again, you don’t really have much option for something like that. Some medical UXGA monitors are capable of these specs, but they cost 3 to 4 times that of the plain old Dell 2000FPs.

“What is the best 16ms response time LCD?” — We get this one a lot. We have mentioned an incredible amount of times that they are pretty much all the same monitor. AUOptronics makes the actual substrate for every 16ms panel available right now. LG.Philips has one in production as well, but they are pretty much like comparing apples to oranges. It needs to be established that black-to-white response times are good, but grey-to-grey are far more important. The follow-up to this article will deal primarily with this issue. In any case, the best 17” 16ms LCD is perhaps the cheapest, since they are pretty much all the same anyway. The Hitachi CML174 (which we reviewed), the NEC 1760NX, and the ViewSonic 171B all seem to be favorites. You pretty much can’t loose with any of those.

“What is the best 19" LCD?” — Another popular question. Unfortunately, again, they are pretty much all the same. The Dell 1900FP, Dell 1901FP, Planar PX191, Samsung 191T and Samsung 192T are all based on the same panel. There are about another 20 tier 2 and 3 manufacturers that carry monitors that look identical to the Samsung 191T as well. As far as we can tell, we have yet to find one that is not based on the same Samsung substrate as the other previously mentioned 5 panels. There is a slight difference in circuitry from one to the other, but do not think one display will perform differently than another. Again, it goes back to the issue of cost. The Dell 1900FP and 1901FPs seem to price rather aggressively, and they are probably your best bet.

“I’m a gamer and I won’t buy an LCD until they get there is no ghosting” — My day wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t get about one or two of these in my Inbox. By ghosting, I assume the motion blur that is commonly associated with high response times. Actually, is this even a question? We have to admit that CRTs still out-perform LCDs due to their higher resolution, lower cost and quicker refresh. If you devote about a third of your life to playing games, buying an LCD just isn’t a good idea.

“I am looking for a mid range LCD good for some games and internet” — Probably the best choice is back in the 16ms 17" LCDs. It might seem like overkill because of the low response time, but in actuality, since there are so many different competitors with the same substrate, these are the lowest priced monitors. You will still have to spend about $450 for a good monitor. Just keep in mind that you should definitely spend the extra money on a DVI connection. The difference between the DVI and analog cable will be night and day, even if you just casually use the computer. Other good LCDs in the $450 range include the Samsung 171N and the Samsung 172B/W/T.
Fixing a dead (sub)pixel? Future LCDs


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  • spikemike - Thursday, September 4, 2003 - link

    Just got the deal on passive displays from the LCD expert(my dad, he worked at RCA on LCDs just a couple years after they first invented it) and here is what he said
    Passive displays do operate in either twisted or untwisted mode; data is supplied as on or off signal. However because the response time of STN is slow, they get gray scale by pulse width modulation techniques. Usually they get 16 shades of gray (4096 colors) with time modulation, and additonal gray levels by spatial modulation (using 2-4 pixels to achieve
    1-2 bits additonal gray scale). Right now, the best STN color displays achieve 65K colors.

    So basically if they need a gray scale they just turn it on and then turn it off before it gets all the way on. So technically the way it was written was correct. (by the way the last two posts were also mine)
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, September 4, 2003 - link

    "Take a piece of lint free cloth and wrap it around your index finger. Push about 1/4 of an inch above the broken pixel with about as much force as would take to depress a doorbell. Pull your finger down past the pixel to about 1/4 of an inch below the broken pixel. Repeat in a left to right manner as well. If you’ve tried it about 10 times and are still without success, then you most likely are not going to be able to bring that pixel back to life (and you will probably have a light scuff mark on your anti-glare coating as well)."

    >>>are you supposed to press the pixels while it's on? couldn't it cause the neighboring pixels to become stuck in the on position?
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, September 4, 2003 - link

    I have a Cornea Mp704B 17" LCD. It has the 20ms Hyundai Panel. It's very nice, colors look great, sharp text and images, and no trailing or ghosting at all. I did notice that the backlight isn't perfect (just slightly, and i mean slightly, brighter in middle and bottom of LCD than on the top) and I did have 1 dead pixel and 2 dead subpixels (they weren't stuck on red though). I haven't tried rubbing, it sounds a little fisky, but I may eventually. But yeah, the Hitachi panels are nice overall. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, September 4, 2003 - link

    #25 is right, passive displays are capable of color, every color cell phone today available in the US uses a passive STN display, as far as i know. It is still a much cheaper technology. As does gameboys and palm pilots. Thats why the color seems like pastels and not vivid colors. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, September 4, 2003 - link

    i think 16 and 17 make a point, #16 almost all monitors use the 18bit color he is right about that. A 6 bit driver is much cheaper then an 8 bit driver. And maybe only a few very high end models use an 8 bit driver. #17 discusses the TV LCDs these in fact are the best LCDs you can buy, they have the widest viewing angles, best color, and the fastest response times, because all people do is watch video on them, Although they tend to be lower dpi so if you are thinking about getting one for a computer monitor be sure to sit far a way or you will be able to see the pixels. Some 60" LCDs shown at SID conferences are the best ever made. They look absolutely amazing.
    A third note is that high res high color displays are a requirement for longhorn. Sharp announced they would be the first to offer longhorn compatible displays. They need high res(UXGA probably) and high color(10bit i believe). These products are still about 2 years off but if you look at displays in laptops they have no problem making high DPI displays, for some reason companies don't think people want a UXGA 17" panels.(they should look at forums like this). There is also a company working on ways to get higher res out of the same number of drivers and subpixels by arranging the pixels differently, ( this could lead to lower cost for the same resolution potentially allowing the better substrates to be used. There are substrates that use high response time, wide viewing angle technology, its just considerably more expensive.
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, September 4, 2003 - link

    No I, run my CRt at 85 hz .Well that's as far as my card will go .old card TNT2
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, September 4, 2003 - link

    No.I run it at 85 Hz.Well that's the maximum my card will go .OLd card TNT2.
  • Live - Thursday, September 4, 2003 - link

    Very Good article! Anandtech is really getting back in good shape. I for one would like to read one about CRTs as well. While you’re at it why not cover monitors in your price guides as well what’s the use of all this computer power and fancy graphics cards without a good output of it all? Reply
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, September 4, 2003 - link

    The parts about passive and TFT technology is confusing and perhaps misleading. If you're talking about passive matrix STN or DSTN LCD displays, they were indeed able to turn a pixel partially on, or partially off. However, they're biggest downside was they were always fuzzy because manipulating one pixel, often caused the ones surrounding it to discolour, too. The biggest benefit from TFTs, I believe, was that each individual subpixel was uniquely addressable. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, September 4, 2003 - link

    samsung still not offering up their 'X' line of 16ms panels for review? Apparently they are available for sale in Europe... Reply

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