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Monitors

Alastair Grant | Tue 17 Apr 2012

I was devastated to find that my trusty old flat-screen CRT popped it's clogs the other evening. 19" of full colour instant response glory.

I've been toying with getting one of these fancy LCDs that all the kids have these days but they are just so sucky. The only constraint my CRT had was I couldn't put magnets too close to it.

Alas, apart from being light weight there is little reason to go for a LCD. After much research I have discovered my requirements but such a thing has yet to be manufactured - so I'm jotting them down here for future reference.

  • Input Lag: Less than 10ms

    Input lag is the time the digital processing on an LCD takes to tinker with the image before instructing the screen to update, this can be surprisingly high. Why 10ms? It's an arbitrary figure but one that TN panel displays can achieve today. A CRT being analogue doesn't have this delay, it simply shows the image.
  • Response Time: Less than 2ms

    This is the time that it takes those crystals to get themselves pointing in the right direction. This is measured in a number of different ways, grey-to-grey is quoted a lot, I think I need a different measurement, still, some displays (TN panels) are capable of this.
  • Refresh rate:: Over 75Hz

    Most LCDs plod along at 60Hz, for those who remember CRTs this frequency was unbearable as you could see monitors flashing with the refresh. The argument is LCDs don't refresh the screen constantly and only change when an update is required so there is no flashing. Alas the human eye is quite capable of seeing the gaps in the refreshes when things are this slow, 75Hz is really the minimum you want if you want your mouse to appear smooth and more importantly to see everything that is going on in games. Only TN panels are currently capable of this.
  • Viewing angle: Over 175 °

    TN panels have a pretty poor viewing angle, and it's tricky to get the colours to look correct all over the screen if not sat at the perfect angle, and then if the screen is large things look different anyway - TN just doesn't do this.
  • Colour depth: 8-bit

    Apparently new fangled monitors can't display all the colours on each pixel, so you get banding in gradients and such. An 8-bit pixel can do 16m colours, which is sort of what we're used to - this again appears to be missing in TN-Panels
  • Size: 22-inch

    Seems 24" is becoming the de-facto in screen size but for a desk this is simply too large and you'll spend a lot of time looking around the screen. The pixels also won't be as densely packed in so the quality of the image will be less than that of a 22-inch at the same resolution. 22-inch works out at roughly the same vertical height as a 19" 4:3 monitor, just wider.
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:10

    16:9 is fine for consuming media, but as soon as you want to create media or have things like menu bars you need that extra bit of space, so 16:10 is spot on, or a resolution of 1920x1200 - naturally, you always have at least two monitors.
  • Appearance: Glossy

    A lot of monitors, including the one I've landed up with have an anti-glare coating, which makes the screen look less crisp and noisy. It's terrible. I don't use my desktop outside, I don't need to worry about glare.
  • Back-light: As fancy as possible

    This generally means a back (not side) lit LED display, this allows the screen to go black and not get the leakage of the back-light through. Most displays now are coming out with LED backlights, some though are side lit losing this flexibility and introducing leakage around the edge.

So my main problem is that TN panels are responsive but produce a poor quality picture, and IPS panels produce an excellent picture but take too long to do it. There needs to be some convergence - OLED sounds like the perfect solution, it's fast and super quality, yet nobody yet appears to have made a mass-market monitor. Hurry up! Or in the mean time, get a fast IPS or similar technology to market.

 

Breaking from the voyeuristic norms of the Internet, any comments can be made in private by contacting me.

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