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Conumer Buyer Guide What's the difference between LCD and CRT?

LCD Monitor Consumer Buying Guide

LCD Monitors

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What to Look For::
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LCD or "flat-panel" monitors are hard to beat for size and aesthetics, but there are still some advantages to the "old-fashioned" CRT monitors. This guide will help you decide which suits you better. If it is an LCD monitor, this guide will also help you make sense of all the different models and features available in the market today.


The most obvious consideration to make when deciding on a type of monitor is the amount of space you have available for it. If you have a limited amount of space and want to use as little desk space as possible, an LCD monitor is the way to go.

If you aren't limited for desk space, it will depend on the types of things you do with your computer.

LCD monitors have a number of advantages, but there are still some things that CRT monitors do better. If you use your computer for video or graphics work, consider that video performance is better on a CRT. This would include video editing, movie playback, and gaming.

The colour settings on a CRT monitor can also be adjusted, so if you are working with digital images the monitor can be calibrated to match your other equipment, such as a printer or scanner. Most LCD monitor cannot match this feature.

The other advantage to CRT monitors is their viewing angle. With LCD monitors, if you look at the screen from an angle, you will find it starts to fade the angle sharpens.

If you have small groups around your monitor for presentations, this can affect what people who are not looking straight on will see. CRT monitors don't have this limitation, so people will be able to see it from any angle.

While CRT monitors are superior in their viewing angle, LCD monitors are improving in this area all the time. There are now some higher-end models that can be colour-calibrated and the video performance and maximum viewing angles are getting constantly improving. As these things continue to improve, the display advantages of a CRT will be less and less significant.

Size is the most obvious advantage of LCD monitors, but there are a number of others as well. Because of the way LCD monitors work they are flicker-free. With CRT monitors, especially lower end models, you will find that they can flicker.

When you look at them for a short time, such as when you're comparing them in the store, the flicker may not be noticeable or bothersome. When you are looking at it for any length of time, however, it can tire your eyes out very quickly. Because LCD monitors are flicker free, they greatly reduce eyestrain and fatigue.

LCD monitors also use less power than a CRT monitor - about a third to half as much in fact. If your monitor is on all day, this can be significant.

They are also safer because they don't emit any electromagnetic radiation. Most CRT monitors today meet low-radiation standards, but they still emit some electromagnetic radiation. This can also interfere with other equipment that may be near the monitor.

The viewing angle of LCD monitors was mentioned above as a possible disadvantage. This can also be an advantage in some situations because it provides a certain amount of privacy if you do not want people around you to see what you are working on.

What to Look For

There are some terms related to LCD monitors that you may not have seen related to monitors before, including brightness, contrast ratio, and viewing angle.

Brightness and contrast ratio relate to how bright and clear the picture is and the viewing angle tells you how much of an angle you can be at when looking at the screen, and still see the image.

Brightness is measured in a unit called nits. Without getting into a long technical explanation of this measurement, the bottom line is the higher the number, the brighter the screen will be.

The same goes for the contrast ratio. It will be measured in a number such as 450:1. The higher the first number is, the better the picture.
Viewing angle affects how wide an angle from which you can view the monitor. If you ever have a group of people around the monitor for a presentation, or any other reason, it may be an important factor. In this case, the higher the viewing angle the better.

If you only use the monitor while sitting directly in front of it, this is not as important. And as was mentioned earlier, a smaller viewing angle can provide a certain amount of privacy.

Another item to consider when looking at LCD monitors is the warranty. Much like any piece of equipment, this can vary from one brand to another. Because the cost of an LCD monitor is higher, this becomes more important.

If you save a few dollars by choosing a brand with a shorter warranty, any savings will be lost if you ever have a problem and have to repair or replace the monitor.

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