It's easy to find a TV with 3D capability, but 3D computer monitors have been rare and expensive. Now, though, things are looking up for gamers and movie buffs who want to add another dimension to their computer setups.
Finding a wide-screen monitor is not much of a challenge. In fact, these types of monitors have all but replaced the squarish 17-inch models. Their greater width allows for much easier side-by-side page viewing as well as more viewable spreadsheet columns at once, requiring less scrolling.
The best display of any kind we've seen is Apple's new 27-inch monitor. It has high resolution, accurate color, and deep blacks. It also has a wide viewing angle. This LCD display uses LED backlighting, which makes it thinner than models that use conventional fluorescent backlights.
Prices keep falling on LCDs, even for bigger screens. You can now get a 24-inch for as little as $200. If you're buying a monitor bundled with a new computer, as many consumers do, you can often upgrade from the standard display to a larger one for a modest amount--$50 to $150 or so. Here are some things to consider before you start shopping.
If you're still using a CRT, it's time for an upgrade. Low prices on flat panels leave little justification for sticking with that space-hogging relic of the 20th century. If you already own a flat panel, good reasons to upgrade include switching to a bigger display for more screen real estate, or a wide screen if you want to watch movies on your computer. Or you may want a monitor with speakers or USB ports.
About the only reason left for buying a CRT is if you're a graphic artist and need the myriad colors it provides, as well as deep blacks and virtually unlimited viewing angles. But you'll have a difficult time finding one, as many manufacturers have stopped producing them. For most users, an LCD is the better choice. Among the many advantages of LCDs are no flicker or glare, a sharper image, low electromagnetic emissions, reduced energy consumption, and the most obvious, space efficiency.
About the only reason left for buying a CRT is if you're a graphic artist and need the myriad colors it provides, as well as deep blacks and virtually unlimited viewing angles. The reasons for choosing an LCD are many, among them no image flicker, sharper image, no glare, low electromagnetic emissions, reduced energy consumption and, the most obvious, space efficiency. Even if you wanted a CRT, you'd have a difficult time finding one, as many manufacturers have stopped producing them.
Even some LCDs are on the endangered list. With wide-screen displays now the norm, only a few squarer (4:3 aspect ratio) screens remain available, mostly 17- and 19-inch models. Some offer good value, and you may even prefer that shape if horizontal space is limited or the extra vertical space better suits your needs.
More screen real estate is always a good thing, and we recommend buying the largest screen you can. So the decision comes down to what fits your space and how much you want to spend. Expect to pay $125 and up for a 19- or 20-inch monitor, $150 and up for a 22-inch, and $200 and up for a 24-inch. Unlike a CRT, whose viewable image size is smaller than its stated size implies, an LCD's viewable area is what it says it is.
Flat-panel displays deliver a very clear image but have some quirks. Their range of color is a bit narrower than CRTs', and their limited viewing angle can be a problem. For optimal image quality, you have to view the screen straight on. Otherwise, the picture can lose contrast and look washed out as you move off-center, and fine lines may appear grainy.