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Flat Screen Computer Monitors

Today's Flat Screen Computer Monitors

Although flat screen computer monitors have now been around for well over a decade, for a long period of their history they have not been suitable for most users for a variety of reasons. Today, this technology has advanced to the point that it is almost impossible to find a traditional cathode ray tube monitor for purchase outside of certain specialized professional applications.

The original flat screen monitors were extremely expensive, easily costing triple what a traditional CRT monitor of the same viewable size and resolution could cost. That increased expense would purchase a thinner and more attractive monitor whose brightness and color would vary greatly as one moved one’s head from side to side or up and down. Furthermore, that panel would only work well at one resolution which exactly matched the number of pixels that were physically built into the screen. Finally, its ability to display the same colors as a standard definition NTSC TV would be extremely limited, with some monitors only able to deliver between one-tenth and one-quarter as many colors as a cheap CRT.

Flat panel computer monitors continue to have a set native resolution at which they perform best, just about every other problem of the previous generation has been solved. Although CRT monitors are essentially no longer sold, making a comparison impossible, the fact that a 17” LCD can be purchased for around $100.00 should indicate that pricing for today’s flat computer monitors is quite competitive.

Off-axis viewing has improved significantly from the panels of the past. Even the least expensive monitors have viewing angles in the range of 160 degrees. Some newer monitors featuring in-plane switching technology even offer viewing angles in the range of 178 degrees. Being that 180 degrees would be the same as being even with the monitor and 181 degrees would be slightly behind the monitor, it is clear that the off-axis viewing problem has essentially been solved.

The remaining problem with computer flat panel monitors is that of color gamut. Put as simply as possible, the human eye can see, and one’s computer can generate, more colors than the monitor can display. Although flat screen computer monitors have come a long way in this respect, some still suffer from a limited color gamut. This problem, interestingly enough, is not caused by the LCD technology but instead by the backlight. Newer wide-gamut cold cathode flourescent and LED backlights have actually brought higher-end flat screen monitors to the point where they can display more colors than either a Plasma or CRT display.

With these things in mind, flat screen monitors are a robust and mature technology. They maintain the primary benefit of the original monitors—small size—but retain essentially none of the drawbacks. Given the low cost of a panel today, coupled with the dual benefits of space and power savings, those few users who have not yet upgraded should give it serious consideration.

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