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What's on the Horizon for LCD Monitors?

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August 2, 2005 12:40:45 AM

I've been hanging back on buying an LCD monitor because every one of them seems to have some issue if you dig deep enough. It really baffles me why the manufacturers have abandoned making CRT's. Of course an LCD is lighter and takes up less space but as far as what they are meant for, they seem to be coming up short when it comes to games and graphics applications.

They are fine for business apps and internet browsing but I've seen countless issues with dead pixels, grainy images from digital photography, and ghosting/blurring in games and movies. CRT's still have it where it counts in these areas. Unless there's some new groundbreaking technology coming our way soon, I think I'm going to pick up a good 22" CRT and hope it lasts long enough for the LCD's to finally perform on par. Anyone heard any rumors?

scrapser

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August 2, 2005 3:14:25 AM

I think a lot has changed. If you want a big monitor you can get a 20.1" LCD which will actually be bigger than a 22" CRT. I can vouch for my LCD as pretty damn good for the money. No complaints. Obviously I wish it looked as sharp as a plasma screen, but I only spent $900 and defintitely got bang for my buck.

<pre><font color=red>A64 3200+ Winchester
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Dell 2405FPW</pre><p>
August 2, 2005 2:02:28 PM

You quoted one sentence in my post which takes it out of context. The first sentence is my point. I've been scanning everywhere for commentary on LCD's...particularly the faster models at 8ms or under. I can't seem to find one where everyone who owns one is consistently satisfied.

I'm glad your 17" LCD suits your needs (the issues seem to crop up with 19" screens and larger). I read a good review from Tom's and a bad review from another site (or vice versa). I look at customer reviews on sites where you can buy monitors and some report problems while others do not. Some people say, like you, that their monitor is perfect then another person comes back with a list of problems. This makes me feel like the technology hasn't reached a stable level of performance yet.

scrapser

<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by scrapser on 08/02/05 10:09 AM.</EM></FONT></P>
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August 2, 2005 2:49:09 PM

CRT's are far from perfection also. LCD's are much more accurate for linework and text than CRT's due to distortion.
Also LCD's are easier on the eyes and generate less heat. As for graphic design, LCD's are better.

But if your a gamer primarily, then either a 17" LCD with 8ms or less or a 20" or larger CRT with smaller dot pitch is the best route.

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August 2, 2005 4:03:34 PM

You hit it on the head when you said "I can't seem to find one where everyone who owns one is consistently satisfied."

Ain't ever going to happen. I've never heard of a car where every owner was satisfied. Nor one that didn't have some issue or another once you dug deep enough. The point is nothing is perfect for everyone -- not LCDs, not CRTs either. If you're waiting until LCD's are perfect and manufacturers can get rid of their RMA departments, you might as well as just stick it out with a CRT until LCDs are phased out by, who knows, OLED, SED, holographic technology, whatever.

What's more important is whether or not the advantages outweigh the disadvantages for you, the individual consumer. Yes an LCD is lighter and takes up less space -- but yes that is also a major selling point for a lot of people. I appreciate being able to put both arms on my desk when I'm using my computer now because I can finally sit "straight" -- I used to have to sit diagonally because the CRT had to be mounted at a corner of my desk, because it was too big to fit properly. This meant that my left arm got tired quick trying to support itself while typing on the keyboard (the monitor was to my left). Now that I have an LCD, I can finally mount the monitor directly in front of me. I also appreciate not getting that "burned eyes" feeling after looking at my monitor for an hour or two now that I have an LCD monitor. You might say that these are "merely" ergonomic considerations, not having anything to do with the stuff that monitors "are meant for", but those are important considerations -- probably _the_ important considerations now that I've moved to LCD -- for many people.

Ultimately it comes down to the criteria that you feel are important when selecting a computer monitor. Manufacturers however have to react to market demand -- i.e. the choices that individual consumers make in the aggregate -- and the LCD road is the one that many have chosen to go. Given what you said that they are fine for, I would venture that for most people, "business apps and internet browsing" is what their computer was meant for as far as they're concerned.

As for new technology on the way, there's certainly lots of it in the pipeline, but I don't know much about the schedule for them. Chi Mei exhibited an LCD TV that they claimed had a natural (i.e. not "forced" via overdrive) response time of 2.3 ms. That's so small that they were talking about inserting black frames in between image frames in order to reduce motion blur even more. But when is that coming to public distribution, and more importantly, computer monitors? I have no idea. But companies are coming out with new stuff all the time; while much of it is marketing hype, some of it is actually useful technology. Best do the research for that if you're considering a new monitor.

The best advice is to just go to a store and see if they're good enough for you. That's what matters in the end. Everyone is going to have different opinions about what's good enough for them. What's important is where that line is for you. There's an old saying, "Better is the enemy of good enough." In this case, I would modify it by saying "Perfect for everyone is the enemy of good enough for you."
August 2, 2005 4:05:30 PM

I'd like to see a 19" LCD that can perform as well as a 19" CRT in terms of refresh rate and resolution. That's my own personal ideal. I play games...mostly military sims and FPS plus a little digital photography. It seems the technology is presently hitting some sort of wall and struggling to get past it.

Viewsonic seems to be the front runner but their "overdrive" has been questioned here in Tom's reviews leading me to wonder if it's a distortion of facts. As the title of this thread asks, I'm curious if anyone's heard of something else that may be a breakthrough in improving LCD performance.

scrapser
August 3, 2005 11:10:00 AM

Thanks for your informed reply and I agree with what you're saying completely. I'm not looking for perfection but rather the point where 19" and greater screens can handle gaming and video graphics without the consumer having to worry about it. They way I keep reading the pros and cons in reviews, it makes me feel like LCD's still need some more work and right now they are still an emerging technology.

In other ways I guess it's apples and oranges but it would be nice to have an LCD that "looks" like a CRT image. I saw a website with screen shots of many current games on LCD monitors. The sharpness of the LCD makes them look...well...too sharp (sort of like cartoons). The pixels don't blend to create a soft image if that makes sense. For me, the main thing is no ghosting and a fine resolution (like a CRT produces), good colors, and no dead pixels.

scrapser
August 3, 2005 6:35:31 PM

Yes LCDs have sharper images precisely because they have well-defined regions for each pixel (actually, for each sub-pixel), while for CRTs, the dots are actually smeared in a Gaussian distribution (bell curve) so everything is naturally soft. I think this may be a reason why people think that LCDs tend to have a sharp, glaring image, while CRTs have softer, more pleasant images. LCDs do have a sharpness setting though, so you can adjust it downwards.

For LCDs, unfortunately, no ghosting and good colors are opposite requirements -- the panels with better color quality (i.e. IPS and MVA) tend to be slower, while the quicker one (TN) tend to have worse color quality (not to mention viewing angles). So you may have to compromise on that. I'm not sure I know what you mean by good colors though (nor reviewers for that matter) since colors have always been fine for me. Color settings can also be toggled around with LCDs.

Resolution is a hard topic for LCDs. They are not like CRTs, where better resolution means better quality. Rather, LCDs have a fixed ("native") resolution, which is the same as their maximum resolution, and the image quality suffers somewhat at any other resolution. At any rate, you're going to be looking at a bigger dot pitch than what you're used to for CRTs. But again. CRTs needed a finer and finer resolution to reduce the effects of blurring. LCDs don't blur, so the resolution may be a moot point.

No dead pixels will almost always mean going to a brick and mortar store and seeing the one you will be buying (i.e. taking it out of the box) there and testing it out. Realistically, your chances of getting a dead pixel or more is around 30%. Buying a monitor from a brick and mortar means you have a bigger chance of being able to exchanging it than being it online. Again, it also gives you a chance to see if the LCD is good enough for you.

Yes, LCDs are an emerging technology. However, remember that reviewers are more or less paid (indirectly) to put cons in reviews. Think of it this way: how much would you trust a reviewer who says every product he reviews is perfect? They know that they have to make room for criticisms, or their reputation is gonna sink (people will think they're too easy to please and hence not trust them). Furthermore, reviewers review the newest, most advanced products on the market, not the "middleware" that the rest of us gets. So combine the two, and you have a situation where no matter what comes out, it looks like there's still problems, even with the best of the best. A case in point, Tom's Hardware reviewed the Dell 2405 recently, and found that it performed "respectably" in terms of color quality (or something like that, don't have time to look up the article right now). Yet the actual color tracking data they give shows that it performed very well -- below the threshold that humans are supposed to be able to notice, by their own definitions. It's one of a few monitors to be able to do so. Does this mean it gets a good rating? No, it's just a ho-hum "respectable" for color. So again, the best advice I can give is to test it out yourself by going into a store and looking at monitors.
August 3, 2005 8:44:48 PM

Thanks again for taking the time to write some good information. I wish there were more like you! I think you are reading me correctly. As far as the colors are concerned...my impressions were coming primarily from reviews such as those here at Tom's.

I actually love the idea of having an LCD and believe that ultimately we will be seeing "widescreen" monitors (and software) become the standard in the coming years. I do hope the technology continues to develop to the point where the LCD image can match that of a good CRT (or not if the user chooses). I can see from your descriptions where the trade offs are coming from, so for now it's really a matter of finding what suits my needs best.

One other point I'd like to make is the lifespan of an LCD over a CRT. It would seem to me LCD's should last much longer, making it even more important to do the research before buying one since it will be around for a long time.
August 3, 2005 9:01:40 PM

LCD's have a shorter lifespan than CRT's.
But you should still get 3 to 5 years out of a LCD.

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August 4, 2005 2:30:33 AM

That's a surprise considering LCD TV's (not rear projection) are rated to last something like 10 years or more depending on how many hours they are on. I would have never guessed.

scrapser
August 4, 2005 2:36:35 AM

It really depends on the brightness you keep the LCD at. They burn out. Usually under moderate to heavy use, this should last 4 to 5 years. To get 10 years I would suspect very minimal use.
But 5 or so years is enough for a display, isn't it.

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August 4, 2005 4:13:50 PM

I gave my Mom my NEC 17" CRT, forget the model, but it supports 1600x1200 at 65mz, but she runs it at 1024x769.

It is now about 11 years old and works great. Not as sharp as a newer one, but great colors.
And the 19" and 21" crt I am using now are both over 5 years old.

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And the sign says "You got to have a membership card to get inside" Huh
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August 5, 2005 12:21:04 AM

I hope my current 19" Diamondtron lasts long enough until LCD's are improved to a point where there's the ability to get an image of a similar quality and speed. I know they will never be totally indistinguishable but it would be nice.

scrapser
August 5, 2005 4:43:55 PM

My 22" diamondtron has a "constant brightness" feature that keeps it from going dim over time. Big selling point. Yours probably has it too, if it's a modern model.

Even though I love my CRT, I'm in the market for a flat panel, too. I am SO greatful to tom's hardware for the review on the VX924. The review was positively the most extensive to be found anywhere, and seemingly the only site that didnt marry itself to the awesome technology that is the overdrive panel.

I have a hand full of monitors under consideration, two of them seem to be on the same level spec-wise, the Benq FP91E and the Samsung 193P+ (thats PLUS.) Both of these are 8ms GtG panels at 1000:1 contrast, 16.7m colors, 250 cd/m2 which claim very wide viewing angles. Because I'm shopping for a great all around monitor, I'd prefer a monitor with all the bells and whistles listed above that can also hold its own in the gaming arena. So I guess what I'm asking is , is the 8ms response time on these panels truly anywhere close to that of a 8ms gaming panel? I would be very glad to see a toms hardware review that pits these two monitors up against each other, and perhaps mentions how improved the 8ms spec of the 193P+ REALLY is over the 20ms 193P.

I'm also somewhat interested in the Benq FP91V+, the 6ms GtG answer to viewsonic's XV924. After reading the XV924 review, I'm immediately skeptical about any panel claiming a response time of less than 8ms.

Any advice would be most appreciated.
!