Come this fall it's time to pack up and move into a dorm for my last 2 years of college. Unfortunetly, there's not a whole lot of desk room, so my 19" CRT would be a little inconvenient to say the least. I don't have a ton of money - I'd like to keep things around $300, if that is possible. I am looking for...
Overall high quality LCD display
Fast response time for 3D games/shooters/racing
Good video playback
Good color for photo editing
I am assuming anything that meets that criteria will be great for Word Processing & Internet use...
Top monitors in 17"/19" categories for around $300-ish? If that price point is too low, plz also give suggestions from a little higher if needed.
Well there's really no substitute for doing your own research. Also, it depends a lot on what each specific person wants. For example:
1. Price. You already said around $300. You could potentially get a 19" for that by the way. 17" monitors are maybe around $200 or so right now, and the rest of the cost is just due to brand name and bells and whistles.
2. Looks. Are you someone that is willing to pay more for looks? Or are you the type that's just "well whatever works works, I don't care how it looks"?
3. Specs. Everyone wants an LCD monitor that's cheap with good response time, good colors, and all that. Realistically, you'll have to make some tradeoffs here and there. So you should figure out which stats you value more.
4. Dead pixels. You willing to take a few, or you must have one that doesn't have any? This specifies more or less how you'll be getting your monitor. Retail stores tend to be somewhat more expensive but you can check out the monitor beforehand for dead pixels. Online stores tend to be cheaper but you can't check them out beforehand. Also, going retail means you can see if the color profile fits you. Incidentally, if you're wondering what a manufacturer's dead pixel policy is, you can ask because I collect them for fun.
Anyway basically the point is that there are a lot of different factors (more than I listed) that comes into play when choosing a monitor, so it's hard to give advice for "what would be the best" because it really depends on the person. So you'd have to rank your preferences first. I know for example that I don't particularly care about looks, I'm not a hardcore gamer, I tend to take whatever works, so price is probably the biggest thing for me rather than response time or color profile or monitor looks or other stuff. Fortunately the company I work for is geared towards my type of person, so it works out. We don't spend our time coming up with snazzy terms to market ("look, our monitors have ultraclear and magicawesome!") and driving up prices artificially that way. We keep prices low in fact by not having a marketing department at all. I mean when you see a commercial for a monitor, well, their customers basically paid a surcharge for them to be able to produce the commercial and buy airtime for it -- money that just goes into hype rather than, say, improving customer service or improving the quality of the product. Of course, the company's betting that by producing the commercial, customers will be willing to pay more for it due to brand name recognition. So the point here is also, whether or not brand name is gonna be important to you. I was talking to someone the other day who was considering a Samsung or a Dell. I was kind of amused because Samsung's the company that makes Dell monitors -- they just take their own monitors, repackage the casing, then stamp the Dell name on it. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, it's common industry practice. But I was thinking, man, it's all the same, it just depends on which marketing department's hype you believe more.
So yeah. Working in the monitor industry, I'd naturally rate my company at the top of the list, since I work there (and the products are geared toward my type of person) and I know that ultimately monitors are pretty similar (roughly 80% or so of all monitors worldwide come from the same 4 manufacturers). I don't know too much about our competitor's specific products in detail, but I usually say that generally, when choosing a monitor:
1. Look at a company's dead pixel policy. That's personally my thing, so YMMV with it. LCD panel quality is actually pretty similar no matter the company, so I actually just use the policy to see if a company likes to use marketing tricks to hoodwink customers into thinking that they're getting a better policy than what they're actually getting. That gives me a good feel for how big a company's marketing department is, and how honest the company is.
2. Look at what you'll really be using it for. Not what you want to be using it for. I say this because we always have the tendency to want the stuff that's best at everything, but then in the long run most of the specs that we want aren't really needed. Not to mention, of course, that it's marketing's job to convince us that we need some feature that we don't really need. My Amptron monitor comes with built-in color profiles. I've never used them. And do people really see the difference between a 16 ms monitor and a 12 ms monitor? I've noticed no ghosting whatsoever when I play Starcraft on my old 25 ms monitor, so old that it has practically full 180 degree viewing angle with no loss of color (recent developments in better response times come at the expense of smaller viewing angle), though admittedly I notice it when I use other applications (which leads me to believe it's a video card thing or monitor settings thing actually since it completely disappears with Starcraft).
3. Look at what comes included. This might be minor, depending on the person. But I've seen people get pissed because they buy some brand-name monitor because it's DVI-capable, only to open up the box and find that there's no DVI cable inside, and they're left paying extra for it (and waste time looking for one). I was surprised actually that some companies don't include them to save on cost, because we're generally the low price leader (that's our market niche) and they come included with all of our DVI-capable monitors.
4. Look at what the return policy is. If something's wrong with your monitor, who's paying for shipping it back to the company? It doesn't really mean anything in terms of the quality of the product, it's just something to be aware of before you make the purchase.
So if you give more information about what you're looking for, it'd be easier to give suggestions on what to get.
Just my $0.02 regarding Dell and Samsung being the same:
While it may be true that Samsung makes Dell's monitors, not all Samsung monitors are created equal. They have good ones and not so good ones like everyone else. If you do some research and decide on a particular model, it's pretty tough to buy from Dell and know which Samsung model it is.
Yea I should've probably been more specific. Samsung makes the panels (and either add on the peripherals like ports themselves, or gets a system integrator to do it), but Dell gets to handle the design, marketing, customer service, etc. So while the physical panel is going to be from the same manufacturer, the options you get may be different, not to mention customer service. So those are what you should look for in terms of manufacturer. There's been recent reports of Dell getting their panels from AU Optronics now as well.