The Monitor is an important part of your computer system, especially if you like watching movies, enjoy photography, or are into gaming on your computer.
Early Monitors were heavy and bulky and used a cathode ray tube (CRT
) but modern LCD Monitors take up less room, are much lighter, and consume less power.
When purchasing a new LCD Monitor there are a few things to look out for such as the screen size, native resolution, aspect ratio, response time, contrast ratio, viewing angle, backlight, and also the type of input connectors for connecting to a computer. You may also want a Monitor with built-in speakers or want a touch screen Monitor.
An LCD monitor has a screen size ranging from 15 inches up to 30 inches. The measurement is taken diagonally from one corner to another. Generally, the larger the screen size then the more expensive the Monitor is. You should also consider how much room you have on your computer desk for a Monitor.
As a Monitor screen is made up of a matrix of pixels then the sharpest picture that you can achieve is when you set the computer's resolution to correspond to this matrix and this is called the native resolution. A common resolution found on Monitors today is 1920 x 1080 as this is the amount of pixels needed for full High Definition (HD
). A high-end large screen monitor might have a resolution of about 2560 x 1600.
The aspect ratio of the screen is the ratio of height to width. Early LCD Monitors had an aspect ratio of 4:3. Later, widescreen Monitors became popular and had an aspect ratio of 16:10, and today 16:9 is common as this is the aspect ratio used by the cinama industry and so is easier and cheaper to manufacture.
The response time is the time it takes for a pixel to change from black to white and back to black again. This time is measured in milliseconds (ms
). This is important for gamers as early LCD Monitors had slow response times which caused blurring or ghosting of the image. A modern Monitor does not usually suffer too much from slow response times but a 7ms response time or less is preferable.
The contrast ratio is the difference in brightness between the brightest white pixel and the darkest black pixel that the Monitor is capable of producing. A specification of 1000:1 means the brightest white pixel is a thousand times brighter than the darkest black pixel.
If you look at the screen from an angle then the image can look dimmer and the colours can change. Some LCD Monitors have a wider viewing angle which allows you to view the screen properly even from an angle. The specification of a monitor may give a viewing angle of 120 degrees or 170 degrees but manufacturers tend to evaluate this figure in different ways so it is best to determine which monitor has the best viewing angle by looking at the screen yourself.
An LCD computer monitor has a backlight used for illumination so that the image can be seen on the screen. It uses CCFL (Cold Compact Florescent Light
) to light up the back of the LCD panel. You can now also get an LED (Light Emitting Diode
) Monitor which uses LEDs around the edge of the LCD panel to light up the screen. The advantage of an LED Monitor is that it has much reduced power consumption, and also allows for a thinner screen.
The input connectors on a Computer Monitor are usually a VGA (Video Graphics Array
), DVI (Digital Visual Interface
), HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface
), or a DisplayPort. VGA is common but is only an analogue connection. DVI is a common digital interface, HDMI is also digital but carries audio as well as video, and DisplayPort is the newest type of digital connector. See the Graphics Card section of this website to view the different connectors.
Although it is preferable to use decent stand-alone speakers you might want to have a Monitor which has its own built-in speakers if you have limited room on your desktop and the audio quality is not important to you. A Monitor with speakers can be connected to your computer via the 3.5 inch lime-green port on the back of your computer or sound card. Monitor speakers are measured in watts with a higher wattage speaker having more power.
You can now buy a Monitor with a touch screen capability but your operating system needs to support this. Windows 8 is designed for touch screens and works very well but you can also use Windows 7 although the interface is much less sophisticated than Windows 8.
Some Monitors have USB (Universal Serial Bus
) ports built-in which are basically a USB hub for conveniently connecting your mouse, keyboard, or memory stick. In order for your Monitor USB ports to work then you need to connect a USB lead (similar to a printer cable) from the computer to the Monitor (see your Monitor manual