What are good specifications to look at in an LCD monitor?

Discussion in 'Displays' started by dhuljev, Feb 25, 2009.

  1. dhuljev

    dhuljev n00b

    Messages:
    27
    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2008
    Hello everyone.

    What specs should I look at when buying an LCD besides maximum resolution and screen size? I have been using CRTs ever since I began getting into computers as a hobby 5 years ago, mostly because I was a poor and very frugal teenager for most of that time. Now that I finally have some extra cash to burn, what should I look at?

    I've been considering this:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824005119

    Tell me what you think. I don't need anything particularly high end either, just something to replace my Compaq CRT from 1997. Thanks. :)
     
  2. Gigamaster89

    Gigamaster89 n00b

    Messages:
    28
    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Panel Type (cheap TN or high quality IPS/VA/etc?)
    Stand (does it swivel/tilt/rotate?)
    Warranty (pretty obvious)

    That's all I can think of.

    Response time - most modern monitors are fast enough so that this doesn't really matter

    Contrast Ratio - most numbers are not to be believed and must be seen with your own eyes

    The best thing to do is just to do some research here and online about the monitor you want to buy before actually buying it.
     
  3. day0day

    day0day Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    131
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2007
    Response time is very important also.
     
  4. koko1973

    koko1973 n00b

    Messages:
    19
    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    take a look at some product pictures from reviews as well. some of them have really nice designs these days and often you can get an impression how the picture quality is.
     
  5. JaguarSKX

    JaguarSKX [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,449
    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Since panel types are not listed, I look at the following to determine if a monitor is using a TN panel, or *VA / IPS panel:

    1. Viewing Angle - Must be 178 degrees, anything less means TN panel.
    2. Response time - 6ms or higher, anything less means TN panel.
    3. Contrast Ratio - At least 800:1 (Static Contrast); don't really care about Dynamic Contrast (represented in thousands like 10,000:1). Static is more important.
    4. Brightness should be at least 300 cd/m2
    5. Height adjustments
    6. Lastly, price. If it is too low, then it uses a TN panel. Example, any 24" LCD monitor less than $570 most likely uses a TN panel, unless a sale or rebate is involved.
     
  6. evilsofa

    evilsofa [H]ardForum Junkie

    Messages:
    10,078
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2007
  7. Snowdog

    Snowdog [H]ardForum Junkie

    Messages:
    8,561
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2006
    Specs that the manufactures offer are pretty much useless and tell you next to nothing that actually differentiates the monitor.

    Panel type (MVA/PVA/TN/IPS) is the main differentiator but they will seldom tell you that info.

    Finding decent reviews would be somewhat better but those can be hard to find. Some of the user reviews on this forum are better than the "pro" reviews. Then in reviews you are dealing with the biases of the reviewer. Does he think wide gamut is great or the bane of modern monitor. Does he not even see viewing angle shift of PVA or does it make the monitor unusable for him. Does he not notice the uniformity issues and glow on IPS panels or does it drive him up the wall. Does he think the vertical viewing angle on TN is fair tradeoff for speed and cheapness or does it make the monitor unusable.

    Basically it is a mine field and the manufacturers don't wan't to help you navigate it. They want to quote bigger numbers to impress you. 10000 dynamic contrast, 110% wide gamut, 178 degree viewing angles. All essentially just big number that aren't helpful and are often misleading.

    Your best bet. Might be to ask the forum for a recommendation. Specify your size, price range, and what you want to use if for.... But in the end you might have to buy a few mistakes to find out what is important to you. I know I did. A monitor is one of the most personal and subjective components of your PC.
     
  8. Forceman

    Forceman [H]ardForum Junkie

    Messages:
    9,243
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2005
    Amen to that.

    My rule of thumb, if your price range puts you at the bottom end of a size (like 24") then you are probably better off dropping down a size (22") at the same price and getting a higher quality monitor in the smaller size. It is the one part of your computer that you are going to be looking at all the time - buy quality.
     
  9. vick1000

    vick1000 [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,921
    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2007
    Unforunatley, the specs given by manufacturers and retailers are practically useless, they are strictly for marketing. You will have to research the specific models to make an informed purchase.

    Like Snowdog said, buy from a retailer with good return policy, so you can cycle through several without getting eaten alive in restocking fees and return shipping costs. Amazon.com has an excellent return policy, as long as you make sure you buy it from them not a third party on their site. Best Buy is a great brick and mortar retailer, but they really only carry TN panels for the most part now, except some Apple CDs and a few PVAs.

    I went through 12 LCDs before finding the NEC 20WMGX2, a sacrifice of size for quality and price. Luck for me, this last bout of serching I only had to send back one unit (a Panasonic 32" TV) and was satisfied with the second choice, the HP LP2475w, thanks mostly due to the info here on [H].

    This forum is probably the most informitive place on the web, for PC displays. AVS is good for televisions used as televisions, but nothing beats [H] for PC related info.
     
  10. SH1

    SH1 [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,372
    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2006
    Black levels on LCD remain a challenge and all the more so given manufacturers' love of high brightness bragging rights. (In case you want to use your display for outdoor signage I guess...)

    Along with the other criteria, suggest looking for displays that can produce the lowest black points...
     
  11. Mastakill

    Mastakill Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    173
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2007
    the only really trustable specification from the manufacturer would be the size in inch :)

    the rest is all hype and marketing, but doesnt mean much
     
  12. evilsofa

    evilsofa [H]ardForum Junkie

    Messages:
    10,078
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2007
    And that's a major improvement over the CRT days! When you got a 19" monitor, that meant the glass was 19" diagonal, despite the fact that the bezel covered an inch or so of the glass and the actual viewable picture was usually set to even less than that. For example, the famous Sony FW900 was marketed as a 24" monitor but it was really 22.5" or so viewable.
     
  13. SH1

    SH1 [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,372
    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2006
    Monitor selection was much easier back in the day of the CRT.

    In the example of FW900, viewable was actually listed with great precision in the specs and of course the rest of this craziness about viewing angles, ability to display black, etc., were not issues...

    (And actually, some LCDs are rounded to the nearest inch, because their manufacture is based on the metric system...)
     
  14. RadXge

    RadXge 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    2,776
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Well said. Inputs and bezel color can also be trusted...
     
  15. JaguarSKX

    JaguarSKX [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,449
    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Not necessarily true.

    My NEC LCD2690WUXi is listed as a 26" monitor, but it is actually 25.5". The same can be said of Planar's PX2611w which uses the same H-IPS panel as the NEC, but lacks all te extra electronics NEC includes in the the 2690.
     
  16. dhuljev

    dhuljev n00b

    Messages:
    27
    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2008
  17. brumwald

    brumwald Gawd

    Messages:
    598
    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2006
    1. You can't trust that number at all... Also it doesn't say anything about anything anyway.
    2. Same here.
    3. Same here.
    4. Brightness should be as low as possible, but it really depend on how well the monitor handles it - in other words. You can't trust this number at all to be of any use. If it's to high though it might be really bad - assuming that it is correct (which you can't).
    5. Good point.
    6. True, a good new monitor is never cheap.

    And it isn't uncommon for manufacturers to have the wrong size and wrong resolution either. Forums and reviews is the only way to go. There is no other way (unless you can see it yourself of course, but thats usually in a store with very bad conditions to really make out anything out of it)..
     
  18. vick1000

    vick1000 [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,921
    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2007
    I think you shouldn't buy monitors from newegg, their return policy sucks ass.
     
  19. dhuljev

    dhuljev n00b

    Messages:
    27
    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2008
    I hope I don't come off as a complete n00b but unless we're dealing with a lot of dead pixels, I'm hesitant to send several monitors back and forth for minor differences in picture quality as was previously suggested in this thread.
     
  20. SH1

    SH1 [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,372
    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2006
    Check out NewEgg's dead pixel policy...
     
  21. techminster

    techminster Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    507
    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2008
    6) holds the truth :cool:
     
  22. JaguarSKX

    JaguarSKX [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,449
    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008

    1. All I am saying is anything less than 178 degrees is a TN monitor. If someone does not want a TN panel, this is one spec that is a dead give away.
    2. Another spec that can be used to determine if a panel is TN or not. All monitors I've seen that lists 5ms or less is TN. 6ms or higher is typically *VA or IPS.
    3. This is simply a rule of thumb for static contrast.
    4. A good monitor can handle low brightness setting without affecting contrast. 300 cd/m2 (or slightly higher) allows you the ability to increase brightness as the LCD monitor ages to compensate for reduced overall brightness the older the monitor becomes.

    Looking at specs is merely the beginning. Doing research (and plenty of it) like searching for "official reviews" (i.e. not simply user reviews) which puts the LCD monitors through a barrage of tests is how you really find out how good a monitor really is. I probably spent over 75 hours (over 9 months) of research before settling on the NEC LCD2690WUXi.