PC Monitor Buying Guide

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There are many considerations while you are buying a PC monitor, many of them technical. And this is precisely why many do not want to get into the nitty-gritties of the same. We bring to you some of the major considerations in a simpler manner for you to decide the best choice for you.

NOTE : We are only considering LCD screens, which are the more preferred option these days. Older versions like the cathode ray tube (CRT) monitor, are now almost phased out of the market, while newer LED screens are not so easily available these days



This might come as a bit of a surprise to many, but a significant majority of the prospective monitor buyers do not pay heed to how much size do they have to place their new monitor. The result? It is often a regrettable decision to buy a bigger screen, which results in shifting of the system and lots of complication. Hence, it is very important that you measure accurately the available space before taking the call.


Native resolution

Since a multitude of pixels are used to display an image on an LCD, every screen has a 'native' resolution wherein it displays its best picture quality. Generally, all 17-19 inch monitors have a 1280X1024 pixel resolution as the native one, while bigger screens like a 23 inch one use the same of 1920X1200, and the biggest ones, i.e., 30 inch ones, use a 2560X1600 pixel resolution. Changing this setting would certainly have an adverse effect on the picture. For instance, if a lower resolution is set, the image would not have much detailing, since only a particular amount of the total available pixels will be used. Another important thing to keep in mind is that you can never display a larger-than-native resolution on a screen.


Viewing angle

Viewing angle basically implies as to how much deviation in position from the centre of the screen is 'permissible', so to speak, before the image quality deteriorates drastically. This is upto a degree measure of 180, and a wider viewing angle is obviously the preferred option for monitors of any size. This is all the more important for designing or photoshop works, since you have to get the best possible detail. Since no standard measure has till date been devised to measure the viewing angle of different monitors, this is one factor where the 'see-it-to-believe-it' approach works best.


Brightness ratio

The brightness of a screen is measured by the maximum amount of light that can be emitted from it while it is showing a pure white image, and is depicted by a candelas per square meter count. A majority of the LCD computer monitors have a brightness scale of 250 candelas per square meter, or higher. Look for at least this level for a good viewing experience.


Contrast ratio

The difference in the intensity of colors, the whitest white and the darkest black, to be precise, is what defines the contrast ratio. An ideal measure is 400:1 or higher, since increasing the brightness might lead to colors not displaying properly, and the picture getting too dark in case you go negative on the brightness part. Alike the viewing angle, there is not particular industry standard for measuring this parameter as well, although a word of caution would be to not go for a higher than 600:1 ratio, since that too gives an unpleasant picture.


Aspect Ratio

Although wide screen monitors having a 16:10 aspect ratio have been the preferred format in the past, the last couple of years have seen users inclining towards the 16:9 version. This is similar to an HDTV, and is useful for working on excel or photoshop files that require a lot of tables, toolbars, etc. Further, one can also view multiple files simultaneously without any problem on a larger screen. And although a dual-monitor setup is the cheaper option, but then your graphics card might not always support the same.


Response time

This is basically the time taken for a pixel on the monitor to change. It is measured in milliseconds, and a lower response time means that the monitor has lesser distortions when images change as compared to one with a higher response time. This feature is most important for movie buffs and gamers. Essentially, there are two types of response time in an LCD. The rise-and-fall response time refers to the time taken for a pixel to change from black to white and then to black again, with the first transition signifying the rise and the second signifying the fall. The other response time, a gray-to-gray one, measures the time for the pixel to change between different shades of gray.

As an industry standard, rise-and-fall response time is the preferred mode of comparison between different monitors. This is also because there is no set parameter for gray-to-gray response time, although it can be a great plus point when it is defined properly, since it helps in deciding the pixel change rate between shades other than black and white.


Additional connectivity options

Since users these days are prone to using their PCs for watching movies on DVD as well as accessing video/photo editing and similar softwares, the latest range of PC monitors are offering input options that were uptil now only being offered in televisions. Some of the examples are S-Video ports along with memory card slots, which are of particular interest to those who are into photography or recording videos, while movie buffs can enjoy better picture quality with component and composite outputs. Gamers, too can have a blast with HDMI ports being given as an additional option to plug in gaming consoles.


Physical Modifications

If your daily routine involves spending quite a few hours in front of the monitor, it is essential for the same to have the provision of height adjustment. This might not seem like too much of an important factor, particularly if you are buying a separate monitor for the first time or are inexperienced in the same, but it does help to have a screen that you can adjust to your preference. This is even more important in case the same system is to be accessed by multiple users. Further additions could be a side-to-swivel feature, that can help the screen be turned to any side without moving the base.