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Selecting Your New Monitor

Before you head out and plop down your hard-earned cash for a new monitor, there are a few guidelines you need to know about selecting a monitor:

  • Be careful of dot pitch claims. A few years ago, the big buzzword for monitors was dot pitch. A computer monitor's screen is composed of thousands of very small dots called pixels (short for picture elements), which when set to the correct color, create the appearance of images. Dot pitch is the measurement between these dots. Unfortunately, not every manufacturer measures dot pitch the same way, so using dot pitch to compare one monitor to another quickly becomes a comparison of apples and oranges.

    Another problem with using dot pitch to compare monitors is that it only works on monitors using the dot-trio shadow-mask picture tube. In the dot-trio shadow-mask picture tube, a thin sheet of perforated metal coated with light-sensitive phosphor is what creates the actual dots. On monitors using this type of picture tube, you want to measure the shortest distance between the perforated dots. Some manufacturers measure the distance from the center of one dot to the center of an adjacent dot, but not every manufacturer uses the dot-trio shadow-mask picture tube in their monitors.

    Some manufacturers use what is called the aperture-grille picture tube. The aperture-grille picture tube uses an array of stretched wires coated with phosphor instead of a sheet of perforated dots.

    A third method is called the slot-mask picture tube, which combines portions of shadow-mask and aperture-grille technologies.

  • Look for a high refresh rate. Another important factor to consider in selecting a new monitor is the monitor's refresh rate. The refresh rate is the speed at which the monitor can refresh or redraw the onscreen display. You want a monitor with a fast refresh rate because this tends to reduce onscreen flicker. Refresh rates are not determined by the type of picture tube the manufacturer uses, so refresh rate turns out to be a more legitimate gauge for comparing monitors. Refresh rates do vary according to the resolution used on the monitor. Select a monitor with a refresh rate of at least 72Hz (which means the screen is refreshed about 72 times a second) for the highest resolution you intend to use.

  • How much control you have over your monitor. As strange as this may sound, many experts also suggest that you check to see the number of controls available on the monitor. A monitor with a lot of controls gives you greater latitude in fine-tuning your monitor.

    While we're on the subject of controls, if you can select a monitor with all the controls on the front rather than on the back, adjusting your monitor will be a lot easier.

  • Check the actual size of the viewing area. The advertised size of the monitor is not the size of the display screen. Table 46.3 shows you approximately what you can expect for your display size (measured diagonally) when you purchase a certain size monitor. Keep in mind that, just like with your television set, the measurement is made diagonally.

  • Is it a flat screen monitor? Having a flat screen as opposed to the slightly rounded screen will display images with less distortion. But be prepared to pay a little extra for a flat screen.



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