Storage Guide

IT Show 2013 - Cameras, Printers, Monitors & Storage Buying Guide

Monitors

Monitors Buying Guide

There are very few ways to accurately categorize monitors, since there are not many significant differences between different models. Generally they can be separated with respect to screen size and the panel types being used.

 

MONITORS TODAY

Screen Size is the primary differentiating factor for monitors. In general, monitors range from 18.5-inch models all the way up to 32-inch versions. However, the most popular consumer sizes for monitors fall between 21.5 inches, 23 inches and 24 inches. These displays can be priced between S$100 to S$350.

The larger display sizes of 27 inches, 29 inches and 32 inches have generally been used in the professional domain. But as consumers' buying power grows, more 27-inch monitors are being made available to end users as well.

The aspect ratio of most screens is 16:9 which is optimized for viewing a variety of content. However other aspect ratios such as 4:3 which is better for viewing web content/documents and 21:9 for extra horizontal working space can also be found.

Panel Type is the second way to differentiate LCD monitors. Twisted Nematic (TN) and In Plane Switching (IPS) technologies are the two major panel types being used.

TN panels are relatively inexpensive and the most common consumer display type on the market at present. Most TN panels represent colors using only six bits per RGB color or 18 bits in total and hence struggle with reproducing the 24-bit truecolor standard available with modern graphics cards. That being said, pixel response times on new TN panels are sufficiently fast to render graphics and motion without artifacts.

IPS panels involve arranging and switching the molecules of the liquid crystal between the glass substrates essentially in a plane parallel to the glass plates. In a TN panel these same liquid crystals move in a perpendicular fashion. These changes reduce the amount of light scattering in the display matrix, which gives IPS its characteristic wide viewing angles and good color reproduction. However when compared to TN panels, IPS panels tend to have slower response times.

Other panel types such as Vertical Alignment (VA) are also present on the market but make up only a small percentage of monitors when compared with TN and IPS technologies.

 

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR

So what should you look out for when buying a monitor today?

Screen Size: When it comes to selecting your screen size, following the doctor’s recommendation of sitting twice the size of your display away is a good rule of thumb to follow. For example, if you have a 24-inch monitor, you should be sitting 48 inches away from the screen. This rule can also help you decide what size of monitor you should get for your desk. If there is not enough space for you to sit the recommended distance away, you should be looking at buying a smaller monitor.

Resolutions and Pixel Density: Almost every monitor worth its salt is able to display visuals in Full HD. The new gauge for the quality of a screen is Pixel Density which is measured in PPI or pixels per inch. If both a 23-inch monitor and 24-inch monitor have a resolution of 1920 by 1080, the former will have a higher pixel density. High PPI numbers are the basis behind Apple's differentiation between regular displays and their "retina" display. In the hypothetical case we have just laid out, it might be better to sacrifice a little extra screen size for a higher pixel density to get better images.

TN vs IPS: Both technologies have their own extremely strong fortes. If you intend to use your monitor extensively for gaming then fast response times are essential for your usage scenario. Hence we would suggest you go for a TN panel monitor which is capable of giving you response times as quick as 2ms. IPS monitor response times generally fall between the 5ms and 7ms range. The faster your response time, the less chances there are of artifacts being present during high motion sequences rendered on the monitor.

However, if you are going to be using your monitor for photo-editing for example, we would recommend IPS technology. IPS panels give you extremely accurate color reproduction along with excellent viewing angles. On the flipside though, IPS panels consumer 15% more energy than TN panels and with their slower response times are also prone to ghosting effects when rendering video. IPS panels also used to be more expensive than TN panels, but over the past year we have seen a drop in prices (especially for the 23-inch size) making them much more competitive with respect to price.

IPS Panel Types: Researchers and developers have been working on making IPS panel types deliver higher performance and more affordable. A 23-inch IPS monitor from a name brand now costs between S$250 to S$300 and we highly recommend you check them out if you are looking to upgrade you screen. However, even within IPS there are different types of IPS panels. AH-IPS panel types were released in 2011 and you should always confirm the IPS panel type from the seller before making your purchase to ensure you get the latest technology.

3D Monitors: If you are looking for a 3D monitor you have no choice but to get a TN panel which is capable of delivering a refresh rate of 120Hz along with fast response times. Before buying a 3D monitor, please check whether your existing hardware will be able to support 3D visuals. You can refer to NVIDIA’s 3D Vision System Requirements and AMD HD3D Requirements at the individual websites. We've also tested and documented the setup and experience with NVIDIA's 3D Vision, so do check out our article too.

Ports: The primary port you should be looking out for on your monitor should be a HDMI ARC. The ARC stands for "audio return channel" and means that if you monitor has built-in speakers, the same HDMI cable will be able to deliver audio as well as providing visuals. However older standards such as Display Port and D-Sub / VGA are still being employed. Take note of the ports available on your notebook or computer and tally them with the monitor you intend to buy. Additionally, monitors now also come with 3.5mm audio input jack and USB hubs. You should decide whether these are necessary requirements before selecting a monitor model. 

Check out some of our monitor reviews at our HardwareZone Monitors Product Guide.

 

Monitor Deals at the Show

Here are some highlighted monitor deals at the IT Show this year.


Acer T232HL 

This 23-inch, Full HD, 10-point multi-touch monitor from Acer is the perfect complement to any computer running a Windows 8 OS. Its 'floating' design with edge-to-edge glass screen and unique asymmetric stand will also make it the centerpiece of any stylishly decorated room.

IT Show 2013 Offer

  • IT Show Price: $599 (Usual Price: $799)
  • IT Show Promotion: Free HDMI, DVI, USB and analog cables (worth $69)
  • Brochure

Location

Level 1, Booth 1209

Dell S2340L

The winner of our IPS Monitor shootout, Dell's 23-inch Full HD S2340L IPS monitor offers a superb 8,000,000:1 contrast ratio, ultra wide viewing angles and warm visuals.   

IT Show 2013 Offer

  • IT Show Price: $239 (Usual Price: $279)
  • IT Show Promotion: Free Belkin HDMI cable
  • Brochure

Location

Level 1, Booth 1305, 1332 and 1229

Dell S2330MX

This 23-inch, full HD monitor is great value with its ultra-slim design, 8,000,000:1 contrast ratio, 5ms response time and 250cd/m2 brightness rating.

IT Show 2013 Offer

  • IT Show Price: $189
  • IT Show Promotion: Free Belkin HDMI cable
  • Brochure

Location

Level 1, Booth 1305, 1332 and 1229

Samsung S22B350TS

This 21.5-inch monitor offers full HD resolution and 5ms response time, as well as Samsung's magic angle technology for a wide 178 degree viewing angle. 

IT Show 2013 Offer

  • IT Show Price: $218 (Usual Price: $228)
  • IT Show Promotion: Free HDMI cable
  • Brochure

Location

Level 1, Booth 1417 and 1421

 

IT Show 2013 Monitors Portal