Buying Guide for
The monitor you
choose should depend largely on your computer's primary use. Generally speaking,
the more you depend on the words or pictures on the screen, the bigger and better
you'll want those words and images to appear. Space may also be a consideration,
and monitors now come in sleek profile LCD models that are more affordable.
The good news is that monitor technology, while improved, doesn't change as
rapidly as computer system technology, so there is less worry about buying something
that will be quickly outdated.
should I be looking for in a monitor?
vary in importance according the intended use of the monitor (e.g. resolution
is more important for a graphics professional). That said, here are some of
the main features and what to look for in them:
screen area: the amount of screen area, measured diagonally from corner
to corner, that can be seen. If a traditional (CRT) monitor is 17", its viewable
size may only be 15", depending on the amount of casing around the screen. Flat
panel monitor casing generally doesn't cover the screen, so a 15" LCD monitor
will give you the equivalent viewing area of a 17" CRT monitor, a 17" LCD the
equivalent of a 19" CRT, and so on. Your usage will determine how big a screen
you need. If you'll be using your monitor a lot, working in graphics applications,
or formatting complex spreadsheets, you'll want to look for a bigger screen.
in general, the space between the tiny dots of color on your screen. Less space
between the dots means a crisper picture, so a monitor with .25 (in millimeters)
dot pitch will have a greater clarity than a monitor with .28 dot pitch. If
you come across other kinds of pitch (e.g. pixel or stripe pitch), a different
technology is used (e.g. LCD). You can't directly compare the different kinds,
but again, a lower number means a crisper picture.
the number of pixels displayed vertically times the number displayed horizontally.
The higher the numbers, the more pixels and therefore more image detail. Smaller
monitors may support higher resolutions, but the images and words will be tiny.
Bigger monitors are better for viewing higher resolutions, and therefore are
the best monitors for graphics professionals and those who need to create elaborate
spreadsheets. Watch for the maximum flicker-free resolution refresh rate, because
if you go to a resolution beyond that, the screen will flicker.
monitor I'm looking at is a flat screen CRT model. Is that the same as flat
No, flat screen
technology simply means there is less curvature to the screen, which allows
for a crisper picture on the edges of the screen. Many flat screen CRT models
have near perfectly flat screens, but are generally not any less deep in size
than a regular monitor. Flat panel displays, such as an LCD, employ an entirely
different technology in bringing the image to the screen, and generally allow
for a much thinner design, which can save valuable desk space and add a very
sleek look to your desk.
What is dot
pitch, and why is it important?
Dot pitch represents
the space between the tiny phosphors of the same color in adjacent pixels. In
English, that simply means the space between the tiny dots of color on your
screen. Less space between the dots means a crisper picture, so a monitor with
.25 (in millimeters) dot pitch will have a greater clarity than a monitor with
.28 dot pitch. If you come across other kinds of pitch (e.g. pixel or stripe
pitch), a different technology is used. You can't directly compare the different
kinds, but again, a lower number means a crisper picture.
What's the basic
difference between CRT and LCD? Do I need LCD?
CRT, or cathode-ray
tube monitors are the monitors that have been around forever. The technology
has gotten much better, and pictures can be extremely clear with vibrant, photo-quality
color. The thing that hasn't changed, however, is the size. CRT monitors are
large and take up lots of desk space. LCD, or liquid-crystal display monitors
use the same technology in any LCD display, such as a digital clock, although
the technology has also advanced enormously. Pictures have great clarity, although
color depth (the number of colors the monitor can display, in hundreds of thousands
or millions) is often sacrificed a little, although you probably won't notice
it unless you're a graphics professional. LCD monitors tend to be very slim,
and perfect for areas with tight space. They are more expensive than CRT monitors,
although they have come down in price. Do you need one? It really comes down
to size. If you need the space, or like the slick design, an LCD may be the
perfect option. If you are more concerned with image quality, a CRT may be your
best bet, although a good LCD probably can also do the trick, just at a greater
What do I need
to buy with my monitor?
monitors generally come with their cables. If you need to get creative with
the location of your monitor, it might be a good idea to buy an extension cable
to get more flexibility. As an added bonus, some monitors come with built-in,
attachable, or standalone speakers, but quality and type vary greatly. Some
also come with microphones, but again, quality varies. If you'll be staring
at your screen for any length of time, you might want to pick up some type of
a glare guide to reduce eye strain. Finally, some advanced graphics cards in
computers have requirements a monitor must meet to work properly with the card.
If you think that might be the case, contact the maker of the card (or the computer
maker if the card came with the computer) to ask, or contact Frys.com customer
I bought a Mac
computer. Will any monitor work with it?
Most monitors these
days will, but not all. You must make sure you monitor is compatible with the
Macintosh platform. Consult the product details to make sure, and if you can't
find the answer, contact Frys.com customer service.