Getting a monitor

Since I am about to buy a new desktop, I also need to get a monitor to go with it. Luckily for me, Samsung and LG make a good portion of LCD displays, so Korea has many more models to choose from than other countries.

Just one problem though – a lot of the monitors from Korean manufacturers are ugly. They may use excellent LCD panels in their monitors, but the frame around those panels often looks unfinished.

As I was searching for prices awhile back (and putting my newfound ability to read Korean in use), I came across a whole family of 24" (61cm) displays that looked beautiful. It took me awhile to figure out why one company alone has 14 different 24" displays. Part of it is explained by the different combinations of inputs on the monitors. Part of it is explained by the fact that the more expensive models have built-in HDTV tuners.

The important part for me, and the one that made me consider BTC at all was the ability to get information on which LCD panels are in their displays. If you buy a Dell monitor, it can be a matter of luck getting a good-quality LCD panel. One day you might get a panel with a 160 degree viewing angle, while another day you might get one with a 178 degree viewing angle. Most cheap LCDs now have 160 degree viewing angles, or in technology terms, are TN panels. TN panels can only display 6 bits of colour per channel, and look atrocious if rotated or if viewed from above/below. Next higher are P-MVA panels, which can display 178 degree viewing angles and display 8 bits of colour, but have problems with ghosting and consistency across the display. The best type for most applications is S-IPS, though it is extremely rare on 24" displays.

Apple uses S-IPS panels in their 23" and 30" Cinema Display models, which is part of the reason why their monitors cost much more than Dell and other competitors.

Other than some professional NEC LCDs, I am not aware of S-IPS being available on 24" displays worldwide. Fortunately for me, the BTC Zeus 7000 240HIF claims to have an LG S-IPS panel inside. It is cheaper than the 23" Apple Cinema Display, and includes an HDTV tuner to boot. Not much cheaper though… around $900US.

My wallet may be thin, but my eyes will be satisfied.

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