LCD – For the Novice and the Expertby Kristopher Kubicki on September 4, 2003 12:13 AM EST
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Selecting an LCD that’s right for youOverall, 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.