Time for a new monitor. Suggestions and tips?!

#1 Posted by AhmadMetallic (18954 posts) -

My 5-year-old 22 inch LCD Samsung SyncMaster 226BW monitor is dead. It is now flickering non-stop, apparently the back lights are damaged and APPARENTLY monitors can't be fixed. So it's time for a new one..

I'm thinking 24 inch 1920X1080 LED. I don't want anything too fancy. What are the specs or characteristics I should look for in a monitor? Refresh rate? MS? etc..

How about this one? Mag H2400 LED 24'' 5ms VGA DVI WideScreen


Thanks for any help!

#2 Posted by Shivoa (648 posts) -

Monitors can be fixed (especially stripping out the backlight inverter and dumping in a new one if that is what broke) but you might use it as an excuse for a new one. Here's the quick and easy:

TN are the cheapo panels, you find them in lots of laptops and they're easy to recognise as when you change the angle the contrast changes (and eventually inverts). They're also mainly 6-bit (so each colour: R, G, B is made up of one of 64 different values rather than 256 and it flickers between values closest to the one you actually want to give the impression of being abler to show all 16 million colours your PC is telling it to display) but do have fast refresh rates (so the pixels switch from not quite right value to not quite right value fast and you can use them for 120Hz screens/3D glasses easily).

eIPS is an economical way of making something with IPS technology that is a lot less crappy when compared to TN panels (and similar to *VA) in that it almost gets to the wide viewing angles and great visuals of a genuine high end IPS screen (note: cheap e-IPS screens will often only say IPS as their panel tech - you spot them by the price being close to TNs) but you do see quite a few e-IPS with 6-bit and dithering/flickering to get close to 8-bit visuals.

MVA/PVA isn't that common today as it used to hold the middle ground between TN and IPS until IPS started getting cheaper and then e-IPS came in and took the market. The later revisions like S-*VA were pushing to get quality to IPS standards but I'm not sure how likely you are to find any monitors of this type.

IPS is the gold standard, the picture doesn't change contrast or hue until you reach 178 degrees (you are almost looking at the back), the pixels are genuine 8-bit, and the only really bad thing is the response rate is a few milliseconds behind the competition (it used to be much worse but everything has been getting faster and so IPS is still behind in that arms race but it doesn't really matter as no one is in the old 20ms zone). Blacker blacks is also a sign of IPS because they do a better job at blocking the light when closed and the lack of angle dependence means you're not looking slightly off-angle at their best output.

Behind the panel comes the backlight. The range of colour in this light determines the range of outputs of the screen (is it a wide gamut? - this is saying that the total colours that can be reached by the screen are defined by the R, G, B values that the subpixels let through but obviously can only be a linear combination of those 3 values so you are looking at a triangle with the greenest green, bluest blue, and reddest red at the extremes) so you can pay more to get richer colours (for a higher end display). You don't see this behind TN panels because the angle dependent view makes a mockery of any idea of a high quality TN display so why spend more on wide gamut backlighting when the user will get messed up colours when they're not perfectly face on to the screen?

The difference between LED and CCFL are that LED uses less power. Both technologies can be used to generate a wide gammut backlight and unless you are spending a fortune on a very large display then both are used to generate light around the edge of the screen that a diffusion material evenly spreads over the back of the display (big expensive TVs can use LEDs in an array and locally dim them for perfect blacks) so the quality of this diffusion material determines if you have any 'clouding' which is uneven light levels on your screen. This always looks worse on TN panels because black is not that black so when the screen is meant to be showing black it actually lets some light though and you clearly see and clouding or edge light bleeding very clearly. You're likely to find almost everything made recently is LED, CCFL isn't cheaper to make any more and so everyone transitioned once LED because the same price to help with getting a sticker to say their monitor is 'green'.

So that is why some monitors are cheap and others are expensive and what to look for as you balance budget with quality. The best way to know for use is to find a local shop with lots of stock and use your eyes to see for yourself how things go, but if you can get accurate specs then you should at least have an idea what the screen is likely to perform like based on the technologies it uses.

#3 Posted by AhmadMetallic (18954 posts) -

@Shivoa: Now that I've read more about it, the back light of the LCD seems to be replaceable so I'm gonna try and find a shop to do it for me.

Either way, reading your post was like listening to John Carmack speak for thirty minutes.

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