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This is the first major newsbreak of the year. At least two manufacturers claim to offer LCD monitors that offer 12 ms response times. The suppliers in question are AU Optronics, a rising star, and one of the two market leaders, Samsung.
The AU-Optronics panel is made by its parent company, BenQ. The Samsung panel is also sourced in-house.
As we have discovered during our previous tests, screen quality is almost exclusively contingent on how good the panel is. Indeed, the panel is actually the screen, consisting of liquid crystals, color filters, backlighting and the light homogenization system.
There are now three competing technologies as far as liquid crystals are concerned. These are: TN+Film, in entry-level and mid-range monitors, MVA in mid-range and top of the range models (there are several brands: MVA at Fujitsu, PVA for Samsung, ASV used by Sharp, Super MVA by CMO) and IPS for high-end models.
For more details about the different layers inside the panel and the technologies involved, see Comparison Of 15" LCD Monitors - Part I .
Even if panel manufacturers are fairly numerous (we have tested over 15 products), the panels used in monitors in recent years are very often the same. Meanwhile, some very useful information can be gleaned by taking two very useful metrics into consideration - response time and screen size.
However, don't take the response time as the be all and end all. This statistic, as practiced currently, gives only a vague idea of screen quality.