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Monitor vs Notebook display (color and general quality)

  • Flat Panel Monitors
  • Notebooks
  • Monitors
  • Peripherals
Last response: in Computer Peripherals
August 25, 2011 2:58:21 PM

I've recently got a new 24" BenQ model G2420HDBL LED to connect it as an external monitor to my notebook. It's 16:9 aspect ratio at 1920x1080 screen resolution.
Compared to my notebook's monitor (which is a 15.4" 1440x900 screen resolution WXGA+ X-black LCD with LED technology) this looks pretty awful. I've tried calibrating the colors all day and the best I could do was far inferior to my notebook's display. For example the white on my notebook is milk clear compared to 'bluish' white of the monitor. Also, other colors looks bad and seem way too saturated.
I tried connecting this monitor to my other notebook with windows 7 on, and it looks pretty much the same. I'm using a VGA cable to connect to it BTW.

I'm trying to understand if the colors look this bad because of the cheap TN panel or something else entirely. I know that connecting via DVI cable may increase the image quality; could this be a reason? Generally, are notebook monitors much better than desktop monitors with TN technology ?

More about : monitor notebook display color general quality

a c 140 C Monitor
August 25, 2011 7:17:51 PM

when you buy a cheap led backlit monitor they always have a blue tint to every single color because they do not use white leds. only the way more expensive models do. this is why some colors look different. perhaps your notebook uses white leds (doubtful if its only a 1440x900 screen) or the settings were tweaked before you bought it.

oversaturation can either be caused by the monitor settings being screwed up or from glossy coatings they put on some monitors to increase how vivid they look.

dvi will increase image quality, however, i dont think the problems are being caused by the cable.

generally TN panel monitors suck in general. cheap led backlit ones more so than ccfl. notebook screens are normally worse off than stand-alone monitors.


you might want to search the internet for "monitor calibration test" or similar phrase. adjust all the settings on your monitor to match the instructions. this "should" greatly improve how everything looks. using a dvi cable (or hdmi to dvi) would also be a good idea.

or... if you try adjusting everything out and you still have issues... the monitor could just be a POS. i normally like to stay with major brands like acer, dell, asus, viewsonic.
August 25, 2011 9:34:49 PM

you might want to search the internet for "monitor calibration test" or similar phrase. adjust all the settings on your monitor to match the instructions. this "should" greatly improve how everything looks.

I already did this. I tried calibrating the colors this way but honestly it did not make them much better; still pretty awful compared to my notebook's display.

i normally like to stay with major brands like acer, dell, asus, viewsonic.

Are BenQ regarded as being a low-end brand ?

notebook screens are normally worse off than stand-alone monitors.

This is not the case here though; could it be that I just got a faulty monitor? The reason I'm asking is because I've read some good reviews of this product.
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a c 235 C Monitor
August 26, 2011 7:51:14 PM

Use a DVI cable if you have that connection, and you may need to look at some other settings, don't know what adjustment you did or what the settings are. Usually the blue tint comes from having the color temparature set to something less than ideal. Also make sure your brightness is not too high, for LCD monitors 30% or so is a good setting, maybe lower.

BenQ is a lower end brand. If you want a good quality screen, check out the Dell UltraSharp series, and monitors around that price range.
August 26, 2011 8:26:36 PM

I hear great things about the Dell UltraSharp series but the price is out of my range. Where I'm from it costs ~530 euro's (around 766 dollars) and it's too much for a monitor honestly (for my purpose anyway). I was willing to pay somewhere around max. 300 euro's (430 dollars) for a 21.5" or 22" monitor.

Any recommendations for this price ?
a c 235 C Monitor
August 26, 2011 11:26:43 PM

jetbean said:

Any recommendations for this price ?

Not from Europe, don't know what is available and the pricing. Check a few more settings first and try DVI if you can with your monitor now see what you can get.
a b C Monitor
August 27, 2011 4:09:53 PM

Something that hasn't been pointed out yet is that your laptop screen has a significantly higher pixel density than your monitor does, so regardless of anything else things are going to look sharper on the laptop screen. It won't affect color, but you will be getting a sharper picture on the laptop screen than on any 24'' screen in existence, just because the laptop has a much higher resolution for it's size.

Something that could possibly affect color is that laptop screens usually use a glossy finish while monitors usually have an anti-glare coating that can make colors muted. I don't know the specifics of the two screens, but that could be an issue.
a c 208 C Monitor
August 27, 2011 7:51:38 PM

Nearly all laptops use TN panels which do not have good color accuracy for color critical work, but they are sufficient for the average user. TN panels also have the worse viewing angles of all LCD panel technology. For whatever reason, TN panels in laptops seems to be worse than TN panels in monitors. Poor / narrow viewing angles causes the colors to shift as you move your head around or change the way you sit (which affects the position of your head). If you are using your laptop sitting up straight, then slouch down, or lean back you will have to adjust the tilt of the laptop's screen.

There are very, very few laptops with something other than TN panels. One is the 12.5" ThinkPad X220 which is currently on sale for $899; there is a $50 options for an e-IPS panel. The others would be certain HP Elitebook 8000 series models which generally starts at about $1,600 (can range up to $5,000). However only the higher end models have the option for "DreamColor" which is a H-IPS panel at a cost $400 the last time I've checked. IPS panels in general have the best viewing angles so colors tends to shift less than TN panels, and a little less than VA panels.

Glossy screens tends to make colors vibrant and a bit oversaturated. This can affect color accuracy, but in general people like vibrant and oversaturated colors. The bad thing about glossy screens is that they are very reflective (mirror like). If using in a brightly lit area you need to increase the brightness of the screen.

Matte finish screens minimizes the amount of light reflected on the screen and there are no reflections. However, the average person will probably say that the colors look a little flat or "lifeless". However, matte finish is good if color accuracy is critical.

Lastly, while there are only 3 major LCD panel technologies (TN, IPS, VA), there are many manufacturers and factories. Therefore, the process to manufacture them could be slightly different and the materials used to make these panels can also vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. This all leads to some minor variations in design which makes it just a bit more difficult to have the exact same colors on two monitors, even if they are the same make and model.

August 27, 2011 11:25:27 PM

Thanks for the info.

How do I find out the technology they use on notebook displays? I looked at the specs of my notebooks and there is no mention of the type of TFT they used. Is it specifically written in the case of IPS or such?

Also, what monitor would you recommend for around 430$; either a 21" or a 22".
a c 208 C Monitor
August 28, 2011 1:23:22 AM

With the exception of the notebooks I've mentioned above, they basically all use TN panels. Basically, at least 99.5% of all notebooks use TN panels. Perhaps some MacBooks use IPS panels, but I'm not familiar with Macs.

You can buy the 24" Dell U2412M for around $400. It costs less than the Dell U2410 because the U2412M uses the cheaper e-IPS panel instead of the more expensive H-IPS panel.

Here's a review:
a c 140 C Monitor
August 29, 2011 1:19:40 PM


there is only so much you can do with adjustments. you might just have a bad model display, or are expecting too much from it. you might want to get something else if you are unhappy.

yes, benq is a low end display.

as mentioned laptops use primarily TN panels, most with a glossy finish. most do look noticably worse than stand-alone monitors. unless you're running a 1920x1080 laptop or one with a very small screen, pixel density is probably not all that great either.

in your price range e-ips is the way to go.