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LCD Monitor Information

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As of late we have quite a bit of New and Old Members asking about Monitors and what they should buy.

These few posts are going to be a Guide to help show you what you will see/view while looking for a New Monitor.

Hopefully it will help Guide you through what you want to be looking for when choosing a Monitor.

 

Before I Begin I want to give a HUGE! "Thank You!" to bp9801

 

He helped me look over everything and pointed me in the right direction to find all of this info!

 

(Note: This is for LCD Monitors only. CRT's are not a Huge Seller anymore.)

 

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::Specifications::

These are the attributes you will commonly see while looking for a Monitor.

 

Resolution: This refers the number of pixels (Individual dots of color.) the display contains. Resolution is calculated by the number of pixels on the vertical columns and horizontal rows on the screen.

  • Example of Resolution would be 1024x768
  • Resolution also works in conjunction with the Display Size of your Monitor. (Display Size is the size of your monitors screen.)

 

Aspect Ratio: This is just the ratio of the width of the displays viewing screen to its height.

  • Regular (Standard) Displays have an Aspect Ratio of 4:3 (Also in 5:4)
  • Wide Screen Displays have an Aspect Ratio of 16:9 (Also in 16:10)

 

Screen Sizes: (aka Viewable Area): A typical monitor screen is measured from corner to corner diagonally across from each other in the measurement of inches.

The size of your screen and the resolution of your screen will directly effect the quality of the image it will produce on your screen.

 

Example: if you have a 15inch Monitor with a Resolution of 1024x786 it is going to look sharper then lets say a 20inch Monitor at 1024x786 because on the larger monitor the pixels

will need to be spread out more in order to cover the entire viewing area which will cause a "Fuzzy look" on your screen.

 

VGA: (Analog) stands for Video Graphics Array: Hardware introduced in 1987 by IBM. This was the most common device used on pretty much all PC Graphic Hardware Devices.

Only thing we really need to know about this is it converts digital data in to an analog signal that the monitor can read.

VGA is a D-Sub Connector that as 15pins in 3 rows.

Since VGA converts a digital signal to analog it does not support the use of a Digital Monitor. Thus DVI was created.

 

 

DVI: (Digital) stands for Digital Visual Interface: This was designed to display high quality digital imaging on LCD Displays and Digital Projectors.

It is designed to carry uncompressed digital video data to a display and is partially compatible with HDMI, DVI-D (Digital Mode) and DVI-I (Digital & Analog Mode).

 

HDMI: stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface - HDMI uses the same signaling protocol as DVI, but adds additional pins for audio (up to 8 channels) and the Consumer Electronics Control (CEC) signal.

CEC is a way to allow Multiple Devices to be controlled by a Single Remote or Allow Multiple Devices to communicate with each other.

 

HDMI is more commonly used with Televisions rather than PC's due to its ability to transmit Video and Audio through a Single Cable. Less cables, less clutter!

 

DisplayPort: uses a small connector and thin cable that's easier to manage and plug in than the larger, thicker DVI cables.

It also makes Multiple Displays easier to manage due to the size of the cable.

 

ATI Will be taking Advantage of this new technology with it's 5x00 series video cards with the "Eyefinity™" multiple monitor feature. The HD5870 Eyefinity Edition card supports six DisplayPort monitors directly.

Apple has also moved to DisplayPort as the standard for its computers.

In-time I think DisplayPort will become the Standard Interface used just like DVI bumped out VGA.

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::What to look for in a Monitor::

 

Take a look at the "Recommended Resolution" when thinking about buying a new monitor. This is going to be the settings that work the best with this specific monitor.

While it says Recommended Resolution is 800x600 but its Maximum Resolution is 1024x786, you can use the 1024x786 but chances are the quality is going to be a bit poorer looking then the resolution set at 800x600.

 

This is due to the fact Most LCD's have a Set Resolution called Native Resolution: What this is in short is basically saying your monitor has had its pixels pre-set to a resolution it performs the best at. The LCD Company's will tell you that you can use the non-Native Resolution but it will result in a poorer quality image due to dropping of pixels to make the image fit.

 

Viewing Angle is another thing to look for. I personally do not know much about this aspect. I do know the higher the viewing angle generally the better it is. Typically 170deg (Horizontal) and 160deg (Vertical) is a good Viewing Angle.

If your buying online you have to chance it. If your buying in a store check it out for yourself.

Look at the monitor from the top to the bottom and side to side. Really just sit in front of it like you would and kind of stare at it like you would do on a day to day basis and see how the screen looks to you.

 

Dot Pitch aka Pixel Pitch is the distance between dots/pixels of the same color on the inside of the display screen.

Displayed in millimeters the smaller the number the closer the dot/pixels are to each other.

Closer the dots/pixels are the better the image is going to be.

 

Contrast Ratio is the ratio of the brightest color (White) to the darkest color (Black) that the monitor is capable of producing. Higher Contrast Ratio the better.

 

There are two kinds of Contrast Ratio's. Static Contrast Ratio and Dynamic Contrast Ratio.

  • Static Contrast Ratio is the ratio of the luminosity of the brightest and the darkest color the monitor is capable of producing simultaneously at any given time.
  • Dynamic Contrast Ratio is the ratio of the luminosity of the brightest and the darkest color the monitor is capable of producing over a period of time.

Most Manufactures of LCD's will only give you the Dynamic Contrast Ratio (DC) of their monitors because the number is usually better then that of the Static Contrast Ratio.

 

 

General Consensus say that Dynamic Contrast Ratio is just a big hype manufactures use to make it look like there monitors are far superior to others by showing off a huge 50,000:1 ratio.

The best thing to look for is try and find the Static Contrast Ratio. It seems to me most High end Monitors have a SCR of 1000:1. I would say look for something in this range.

 

 

Response Time is another little tricky devil the Manufacture Company's like to mess with our heads with. "How so?" you ask?

Response Time is the amount of time it takes for a Pixel to change from Black to White back to Black again (Measured in milliseconds).

 

"Yeah so where are the Company's tricking us?" Well what some Company's are doing now are using a Grey to Grey (GTG) measurement.

What it is they are measuring the Response Time on how fast it takes a Pixel to change from one shade of Grey to the next. This results in a lower time result this meaning you are now seeing monitors at a 2ms rating.

 

With no actual standard on how to measure Response Time this makes things a tad more difficult to choose a monitor looking at Response Time.

Monitors with a 2ms(GTG) may not be as fast as a 5ms(BTWTB) (lol!) monitor.

 

For this I would just have to say stick with the 5ms monitors if you can find something with a lower then 5ms and it does not say (GTG) next to it email the company and ask them if its a Grey to Grey test result.

 

Another Important thing to take a look at when buying an LCD is do you plan on watching Blue-ray DVD's on your new Monitor? If you are you need to make sure your new Monitor is HDCP Compliant!

 

HDCP stands for High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection: This form of copy protection is now widely used. While making this I was on Newegg.com searching though the LCD Monitors

 

I only found 1 or 2 that had no HDCP Support.

While most monitors come standard with it just make sure you check and see if the one you are getting supports it to be safe.

I should note in here too not only does the Monitor need to support HDCP but your Video card does as well.

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::LCD Panel Technology & Types::

If your wondering what an LCD Panel is? Its just another term that refers to the LCD Screen/Display.

 

Their are a few types of LCD Panels we will talk about here in this section ranging from Budget Panels all the way to Professional Grade Panels.

Why is this important to us?

Different panels will allow us to do certain things other panels will not. Most Budget panels are only 6-bit panels and are unable to use the full 16.7 million colors that are avaible in 24-bit true color.

This simply put means your picture is going to have low color and low contrast thus it will not look all that great.

 

So lets move on to the specific types of panels: We will start with the Budget Panels and work out way to the best!

 

 

::TN Panel Technology::

 

The TN (Twisted Nematic) Panel is the most common display type found on the market it is also the least expensive as well.

TN Panels have very poor Viewing Angles. This means is viewing your screen at certain angles will be very difficult or you will not see anything at all.

The one good thing about the TN Panel is the Response Time. The RT will Range from 2ms to 5ms these are some of the fastest Response Times on the market today.

 

Advertising now tends to put emphasis on how fast their displays are in the RT area now to boast sales and convince you that because of a 2ms RT they are selling a better product.

 

As stated above in the RT portion of this post I talked about how RT is measured: "the amount of time it takes for a Pixel to change from Black to White back to Black again."

Well company's that use the TN Panels are now using a Grey-to-Grey scale of measurement which is as I said above: "how fast it takes a Pixel to change from one shade of Grey to the next."

 

Now with new technology we have Overdrive aka Response Time Compensation (RTC): What happens here is they are applying an over-voltage to the liquid crystals to motivate them into their orientation faster.

Though this technology does not help improve the ISO Black to White Transition (which is what your concerned with) since they are already set to receive the maximum voltage anyways.

 

What Overdrive/RTC will do though is produce a faster transition on the Grey to Grey scale thus giving you the 2ms (GTG) you are now seeing with the monitors on the market.

 

Does the Overdrive help? Yeah it does but as I stated above just because a monitor says it has an RT of 2ms don't consider it to be faster then a monitor with a 5ms RT.

Chances are it is just as fast or slower then the 5ms one.

 

 

::VA Panel Technology::

 

The VA (Vertical Alignment) Panels are the middle grade panels.

Unlike the TN Panels the VA Panels have great color reproduction, higher contrast ratios which in turn lead to better black levels (The Bightness level at the darkest part of an image.).

VA Panels also have wider viewing angles then the TN Panels.

 

The biggest disadvantage to the VA Panel is color shifting. Color shifting if when an image is viewed from a specific angle then changes (shifts) to another angle this causes uneven brightness levels across the display. Due to the uneven brightness levels you can also end up losing shadow details in dark scenes when viewed directly from the center of the panel.

VA Panels are also easy to come across just due to the fact they offer much better image quality then the TN Panels and are much cheaper then the IPS Panels (we will talk about next).

 

Other variations of the VA Panel such as S-PVA (Super-Patterned Vertical Alignment) Panels are on-par or just a little bit under the S-IPS Panels. These are the next best choice if you cannot afford an IPS Type LCD Panel.

 

 

::IPS Panel Technology::

 

IPS (In-plane Switching) Panel Technology has been improved many times over the years.

Developed in 1996 by Hitachi Ltd. to improve on TN Panels very poor viewing angles and poor color reproduction. The downfall of IPS when it came out was very slow response times and they were extremely expensive.

 

In 1998 Hitachi Ltd. revamped IPS and created S-IPS (Super-IPS), this has all the same benifits of IPS but with improved response times.

 

Hitachi Ltd. again in 2002 revamped the IPS and created AS-IPS (Advance Super-IPS), this greatly improved on S-IPS contrast ratio making it out to be one of the best looking panels out in the market.

 

In 2007 H-IPS (Horizontal-IPS) was developed. This version improves contrast ratio even more. It also introduced an optional Advanced True White polarizing film from NEC, to make white look more natural.

(This is used in professional/photography LCDs.)

 

S-IPS and H-IPS Panels are considered the best overall LCD Technology for Viewing Angles, Image Quality and Color Accuracy.

These panels are not cheap though if you want quality your going to need to pay for it.

These Panels are perfect for applications/professions that require consistant color reproduction.

 

The IPS Panels also have very large viewing angles up to 178deg. The Response Time on the S-IPS Panels range from 6ms to 16ms.

 

What you want to make note of or look for when buying an IPS Panel if you are a gamer you are going to want to find a IPS Panel that has a RT 8ms or lower.

Anything with an RT higher then 8ms can cause Ghosting / Motion Blur during fast paced games.

 

In 2009 E-IPS (Enhanced-IPS) was created this version of IPS reduces Response Time down to 5ms (yay!). It also created a wider aperture for light transmission, enabling the use of lower-power, cheaper back-lights. It also improved on the diagonal viewing angle.

(With E-IPS it now costs company's less money to make the panels due to the usage of cheaper back-lighting.)

 

So pretty much the type of LCD Panel you are going to want if you want the "Best of the Best" is going to be an S-IPS/H-IPS/E-IPS Panel.

 

It currently looks like Dell is the only company selling E-IPS Monitors.

 

Here is a Comprehensive List of IPS Based LCD Displays:

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::VGA vs. DVI::

(Not sure this is really a concern anymore but we will add it here anyways.)

 

 

The thing you want to concern yourself with for the DVI cables is the type of cable you are buying for your monitor/video card combo. Their are two types of DVI Cables to choose from:

  • DVI-D: This is a Digital only format. It requires your video hardware to have a DVI-D input. The connector will have 24pins in 3 rows of 8 plus a slot/slit for grounding.
  • DVI-I: This is an Integrated connector it allows you to use a Digital or Analog input if your Monitor accepts it. This connector has 24pins in 3 rows of 8 with the grounding slot/slit but also has 4 additional pins (2 above the grounding slot and 2 below).

 

Now as for the VGA vs. DVI part: You really do not have a choice anymore. All new video cards and monitors (for the most part) are all converted to DVI now.

For those of you still using a VGA Monitor the quality of VGA vs. DVI is not that noticeable. VGA has come a long way over the years and its quality comparison goes pretty much unnoticeable.

VGA will also support resolutions up to 2048x1536.

 

I think the downfall of VGA is just it low RGB bandwidth of 400MHz. This is how fast the data travels between your video card and your monitor.

Things that could effect the quality of the image you see using VGA would definitely be the Length of your cable going from the video card to your monitor. The longer the cable the more signal you can lose thus creating a bad looking image projection.

Other factors but these same factors would be included in a DVI cable as well would be Connector quality and Cable quality.

 

While on the DVI side the loss of any signal or lack of bandwidth is not really much of a factor (unless you bought a crappy cable or your cable is going to be longer then 12ft).

A Single Link DVI Connector has bandwidth speeds of 3.96 Gbit/s and a Dual Link DVI has bandwidth speeds of 7.92 Gbit/s.

 

::What is Single and Dual Link DVI?::

 

DVI sends data using TMDS (Transition Minimized Differential Signaling). The TMDS is a high speed interface it determines the resolution and refresh rate that the monitor is using, and spreads the signal out over the available bandwidth to optimize the data transfer from computer to monitor.

 

A Single Link DVI Cable uses only one TMDS Transmitter while a Dual Link DVI Cable has two TMDS Transmitters.

A Single Link DVI Cable supports up to a 1920x1200 image while a Dual Link DVI Cable can support up to a 2560x1600 image.

 

(I do believe most standard DVI cables are all Dual Link Cables.)

 

 

::Video Standards::

(In case you were wondering.)

 

  • XGA - 1024x768
  • SXGA - 1280x1024
  • UXGA - 1600x1200
  • WSXGA+ - 1680x1050
  • WUXGA - 1920x1200
  • WQXGA - 2560x1600

 

 

::Common Display Resolutions::

 

 

Standard Screen: (4:3)

 

  • Resolution: --- Display Size:

  • 1024x786 ------ 15inch
  • 1280x1024 ----- 17"-19inch (5:4)
  • 1400x1050 ----- 20inch
  • 1600x1200 ----- 21inch

 

Wide Screen: (16:9)

 

  • 1280x720 ------ 15.4inch (Wide)
  • 1360x768 ------ 20inch (Wide)
  • 1920x1080 ----- 23inch (Wide)
  • 2560x1440 ----- 27inch (Wide)

 

Wide Screen: (16:10)

 

  • 1280x800 ------ 15.4inch (Wide)
  • 1680x1050 ----- 20inch (Wide)
  • 1920x1200 ----- 23inch (Wide)
  • 2560x1600 ----- 30inch (Wide)

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::3D (Stereoscopic) Technology Information::

 

While researching on 3D Panel Technology I discovered that a company called: Dimension Technologies Inc. has actually been supplying the world with stereoscopic 3D LCD displays since the late 80s.

They were only sold to business/company's with deep pockets like NASA, the Military or R&D Facilities.

::The way it Works::

In order to see objects in 3D your Left and Right Eye need to see seperate images.

Below is The Technology from the Past to the Present on how this has been and is achieved.

 

Before we hop in to this I want to start by letting you know currently (2010) the most common method of 3D Technology used for Video Gaming and Video on a Computer is through the use of 3D LCD Shutter Glasses.

The LCD Shutter Glasses project a specific image to each eye 60 times per second so this requires a monitor that can refresh it's image 120 times per second.

 

That brings me back to LCD Panel Types. Due to needing a Monitor that can refresh and image 120 times per second the most common LCD Panel Type for a 3D Monitor is the TN Panels.

As Stated above in the LCD Panel Section the TN Panels refresh at a Super High Rate! (120mhz)

(Note: Dual Link DVI is also required to use this type of 3D Viewing because of the high data rate necessitated by the 120Hz input signal.)

::Types of 3D Viewing::

 

Old School:

How this used to be done was with the old school Red/Blue or Red/Green Glasses. Now in the movie or game you are watching/playing the screen has two seperate images.

One of the images is in red and the other image is in blue. The glasses you are wearing filter the red image to the red lense and the blue image to the blue lense and then your brain will actually do the rest of the work.

Big downside to this is you cant really watch TV or play Games in Color because the only color's you can see to get your 3D Image is Red and Blue.

 

 

New School:

Polorization Method: (Commonly used in Movie Theaters and Theme Parks)

With the Polorized lenses you can now view your 3D Movies / Games in Color!

 

When you go see a 3D Movie in Theater they actually have 2 Seperate Projector that are Syncranized to project the same images on to the screen but each projector protrays the image in a different polorization.

Now your 3D Glasses have a Vertical and Horizontal Polorization (Vertical on the Left. Horizontal on the Right. (Not 100% Sure))

Just like the old School Red/Blue Glasses they do the same thing, they filter out their specific image and then your brain will do the rest.

 

As we said above these lenses are clear so it allows you to watch your movie or play your game in color!

 

LCD Shutter Glasses: (Commonly used with your PC)

The LCD 3D Display glasses allow you to view Video and Games in 3D by Rapidly Alternating Images from your Monitor to your left and right eye.

Each Lense (shutter) is syncronized to occlude the unwated image and only show the wanted image.

The LCD Shutter Glasses are hooked up to a Video Card on a Computer giving the Glasses its power and allowing it know what images to allow each eye to view.

 

 

Even Newer School:

Some of these new 3D LCD Panels that will be hitting the Market soon claim that we can view our 3D Goodness with out the use of 3D Glasses.

 

The idea behind this is the Monitor is going to contain 2 LCD Panels. The 2 Panels will be seperated by a Parallax Barrier.

The Parallax Barrier is pretty much a Filter it has a series of slits allowing each eye to see a different set of pixels from the screen.

In short the Parallax Barrier takes place of the 3D Glasses you would be wearing.

 

A Huge downside to this type of monitor though is you need to be correctly positioned in order to see things in 3D.

If you are sitting in a "bad" spot you will only be seeing the image in 2D.

 

Some Manufacturers though are creating "Multiple 3D View Angles" on their Monitors though allowing the 3D image to be viewed in other angles and not just dead on.

With that being said if your 3D Glasses-less Monitor does not have "Multiple Viewing Angles" really only one person is going to be able to watch TV in 3D unless your company is sitting in your lap.

(Depending on who you have over though may not be a bad thing. *Wink*Wink*)

 

When your not viewing in 3D the back LCD Panel will turn off allow you to see all the pixels giving you a 2D Image/View.

While researching it sounds like some Monitors will not have the ability to use it as a 2D LCD display in full resolution if 3D is unwanted.

So this maybe something you want to consider when looking for a 3D Monitor.

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::Questions / Keeper Posts::

 

Before this Got Locked Up we had people ask some questions.

Below are the questions/comments I felt should be kept in the post.

 

 

QUESTION:

Thanks for the info on the monitor. I am a first time pc builder and I am having to buy everything for a desktop pc. I was wondering what you could tell me about LED monitors for

 

desktops. I have seen a few out there, but I am wondering hosw they compare with the quality of a Dell ultrasharp 3007 which is what I am looking at. I would love to hear any and

 

all comments about these monitors as I live in a small town and really will not have an opportunity to see one at Best buy or someplace like that.

 

 

REPLY BACK:

I do not know much about the LED Back-lighting.

It is exactly what it says it is though, instead of using CCFL's for the back lighting on your LCD Monitor they use LED's.

It is said that the LED's provide a better / more even lighting source on the monitor which will reduce the back-light bleeding effect.

Thought from the little bit of reading I have done on them some monitors still have the bleeding effect with the LED monitors.

 

Honestly right now IMO your still better off just getting a nicer CCFL LCD Monitor.. To be perfectly honest those Dell UlltraSharp monitors are some of the best looking monitors you can buy.

If your cool with having the Dell logo on your monitor I would say Pony up the cash for one of the UltraSharps.

 

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@Jump4h, the single link cable can handle up to 1920x1200 at 60Hz. More info on them can be found here.

 

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Again Thanks to bp9801 for all the help!

 

Enjoy guys!

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