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LCD Monitors: A Catching-On Technology

If you've been in the market for a new computer monitor fairly recently, you might have noticed just how many more LCD monitors you see in the stores now.

It's obvious that the main benefit that's being pushed about computer LCD monitors is that they're flat, and you can put them almost anywhere, but you might be curious about just what you're giving up by going LCD. To tell you the truth, an LCD monitor can be a worthwhile investment to your home computer system if you're not hung up on the budget models, and if you can truly benefit from the added space.

Alright, first thing's first. LCD monitors will never be as good as CRT's (cathode ray tube monitors, the big box made like a TV), although when you get far up in the price range with LCD's, you may have a hard time telling the difference. But 90% of the time, the graphics and animation that can be produced by a tube are far and away better than anything you'll see from an LCD. You really notice this with moving pictures. This is because LCD's are a chemical reaction technology. Pictures run and bleed across the screen because the reaction is only going to be so fast, and there's no real way to speed it up.

You might notice, however, that more expensive models are smoother than budget models. That's because the budget models do not reflect the full capability of the LCD reaction, even though it is limited.

Just for a little background, LCD monitors started making their way into the stores in the mid 90's. Usually, they were black and white, and built-into part of those old pre-laptop portable computers.

The ones that then came out as standalones were never really able to grab a big part of the mass market, mainly because they weren't any good for much other than word processing. The picture would bleed horribly across the screen no matter what you were doing. Forget moving graphics of any kind. Sure, they were flat, but this wasn't really seen as a benefit at the time because people had been used to heavy, bulky monitors taking up the space.

Oh, not to mention the price. If you think some of the more high-end LCD monitors now are expensive, try back then. With all these factors put together, I'm a little surprised they caught on at all.

Of course, just walk into any major home electronics retailer and you'll see just how far LCD monitors have come. Cutting edge companies like Sony continue to churn out more and more precise video reproduction from LCD. Today with the better LCD's, you can get still images as sharp as CRT's, and graphics animation nearly as smooth.

The 20" Sony that I have is not made for you to sit with you face right in front of the screen. Like most of the larger ones, it's meant to be viewed from a few feet back. And when you do that, you seriously cannot tell the difference between that and a CRT.

The true quality of CRT's still cannot be questioned. You can get a sharp, crisp picture, that blows away the cheap LCD's and is only a little better than the nice LCD's, but you'll always need a ton of desk space (and help carrying it in) if you want to go with a CRT.

Size and weight are another issue. There's a screen size limit that CRT's actually don't get larger than solely because after you hit about 28", they become ridiculously heavy. Of course, LCD's, being light, and flat, now allow for computer monitors to be made in some interesting sizes.

As far as brands go, Dell's "Ultrasharp" LCD monitors are great. Sony's always been known as a prime quality name, and visual technology pioneer. 15" and 17" LCD's will serve the purpose, but you really see what these monitors have to offer when you move up in the sizes, like 20" and up. I'd stay away from the budget names. You'll know them when you see them because you'll see them at your major home electronics retailers, but you've never heard of them before.

Whether you're looking for some extra desktop space, or looking for the high-end PC graphics experience from a larger monitor, it's no doubt that the LCD monitors of today can more than meet your needs.

Phil Moyers, owner of Build-Your-Own-Computer-Plan.com shows computer novices how to save a ton of money by putting together fast, high performance PC's of their own with handpicked, quality parts.

Computer LCD Monitors

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