Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Liquid Crystal Displays

I'll never buy another CRT based display. Ever. Unless I become destitute and can't afford anything better. My crummy old 17" CRT monitor decided to betray me yet again (it has its moods) by tinting the picture in yellow, permanently. Needless to say this was an unacceptable state of affairs; staring at a monitor teary eyed is generally not recommended, although it does happen often enough when I read those overly polite, cold, heartless, rejection e-mails. Sniff. But I digress! Instead of getting the old thing (it's not even that old) repaired, I decided an upgrade was in order, and got myself a nice shiny 19" widescreen LCD monitor. Did I mention it was shiny?

Long story short, I love it. It's no secret that I consume a lot of movies and tv shows (no really, I do!), and watching them on an LCD display is a revelation. I had no idea how dark and blurry and indistinct stuff looked on my old monitor! Now it's bright, vivid, and vibrant, and the picture is bigger thanks to the larger size and widescreen aspect ratio. The aspect ratio also allows for more screen real estate in general, which is great for reading webpages and stuff like spreadsheets, though a lot of websites are designed with a fixed width (like this blog!) that leaves half the screen wasted blank space. Text looks razor sharp, and pretty much everything just looks more vivid and pleasing to the eye.

  • Flat panel takes up little space

  • Lightweight

  • Lower power consumption

  • Superior picture in general

  • Aspect ratio better for movies/TV shows and desktop

  • Easier on the eyes (subjective, and I'm not sure if there's any solid medical evidence to corroborate this assertion)

  • Looks much sexier than a CRT (not that I'm superficial enough to care... Awww, who am I kidding?)

  • Expensive (costs 50%-100% more than a CRT)

  • You could end up with dead pixels (I almost had a heart attack when I saw what I thought was a dead pixel, only to realize that it was dust on the screen)

  • Picture quality limitations - Fixed optimal resolution; contrast range not as good as CRT - blacks are not as deep; limited viewing angle

  • Could have an uneven backlight (like mine, which has a contrast gradient from the top to the bottom of the screen) - virtually unnoticeable though, unless you fixate on it (which is generally true for dead pixels as well, depending on where they occur)

  • Lifetime not as long as a CRT, though I believe the backlight can be replaced once it fails.

That sounds like a lot of cons, but truthfully the pros outweigh the cons. Even with the uneven backlight, and even if there were dead pixels, the improved picture quality (despite the other drawbacks), screen real estate, reclaimed desk space, and power savings make it a worthwhile upgrade. Prices will continue to fall, and these will be par for the course in the average PC set up within the next 10 years, if not sooner. For people like me whose lives revolve around sitting in front of a computer screen (I can hear obesity, diabetes, and heart failure knocking on my door already), it's a no brainer.

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