04.What to look for
Black should be black and white should be bright for good picture definition. The contrast ratio measures the distance between the blackest black and the whitest white and the bigger the ratio, the better the picture. The monitors have claimed contrast ratios that range from 470:1 to 750:1. In most cases, the tested score didn’t match the claims.
- The ViewSonic, Acer and Diamond Digital had higher measured ratios
The Hyundai, BenQ, LG and Samsung had lower measured contrast ratios than those claimed by the manufacturer.
- The measure of the amount of light a screen emits. It’s measured as candelas per square metre (cd/m2).
- Most models had a typical claimed brightness of between 250 and 300 cd/m2. The measured average maximum brightness was generally fairly close to the claimed figure, with the exception of the Hyundai, where the measured figure was somewhat lower than the claimed figure. This didn’t seem to affect performance, based on our test results, however; nor did the difference in contrast.
- The amount of ambient light around your monitor will affect how much or how little screen brightness you need. For example, you’ll need a monitor with higher brightness in a well-lit room with lots of natural light, while a monitor in a dark room will need to be turned down to a sufficiently low level.
- All of the monitors were tested on auto settings, which were accessible from the menu option in the on screen display (OSD), or a control button on the monitor itself.
- This will optimise the screen settings automatically and provide a good overall picture, although manually tweaking the settings can deliver a better result based on your preferences.
The monitors were easy to set up and get running with Windows XP. You only need to connect the power cable and the VGA cable and turn on both the monitor and the PC. Windows automatically selected the correct driver.
The physical adjustments that you’ll want from a monitor include swivel, tilt and height adjustments.
- The LG scored highest — it can swivel through nearly 350 degrees and its tilt can be adjusted with one hand from 67 to 94 degrees. Its height adjustment extends through 86 mm and it pivots between landscape and portrait.
- The Samsung and Hyundai are also height adjustable and pivot between landscape and portrait
- You can adjust the height of the Diamond Digital
- The Acer, Samsung, Diamond Digital and ViewSonic have permanently attached bases.
- This is the maximum angle from which you can view the screen at each side and above and below without any image or colour distortion.
- All of the monitors had good side viewing angles, but they’re not as good when viewed at large angles above or below, although you’re less likely to do this when using the monitor.
- LCD screens are best viewed straight on, but the angles at which the picture started to diminish were extreme, so none of the monitors should pose a problem in normal use.
- This refers to the time an LCD monitor holds an image before it’s withdrawn and the screen is redrawn. It’s particularly important for gaming and movies where the screen is likely to be redrawn regularly.
- The lower the response time, the quicker the screen should refresh and keep up with graphics. The response time is expressed in milliseconds (ms). In the tested models, the response time ranged from 3 ms to 12 ms.
- The ViewSonic had a 3 ms response time
- The LG a 4 ms response time
- The Acer was the only screen with a 12 ms response time.
Dead pixels appear as black, white or coloured dots on the screen that are permanently on or off. This can be distracting, particularly if they’re in the normal viewing area of the screen, or you view or edit a lot of detailed graphics.
Ideally, LCD monitors shouldn’t have any dead pixels, but they do occur so it’s important to know the manufacturer’s return policy. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to find. We think the manufacturer’s pixel policy should be clearly stated on the packaging but it can be difficult to even find a policy for some products.
Four manufacturers in our test offer ‘zero dead pixel’ policies. A zero dead pixel policy means that the monitor can be returned if there is even one dead pixel; however, there can be restrictions.
- The BenQ policy is limited to seven days
- LG has a zero dead pixel policy limited to the first 14 days
- The ViewSonic is limited to 90 days
- Samsung’s policy extends to three years
The others don’t have a stated zero dead pixel policy, but may offer a replacement. Most policies also have several conditions, such as the number, placement and distance between dead pixels, to qualify for a replacement. Check the policy in the product manual or the manufacturer’s website.
CMV monitor fault
During our viewing panel test, a thin, dark line approximately two pixels wide was visible on the CMV CT-934D monitor. This line hadn’t been noted in the early phase of testing. It was most obvious when viewed from low angles in relation to the screen.
We returned the monitor to the retailer, who organised a replacement. However, the replacement monitor developed a similar, more noticeable problem. This monitor was returned for replacement. The third monitor had no flaws and scored well, although the model has been discontinued so it isn’t included in the table or profiles.
The monitors were all tested using a standard analogue connection. But you could also use the digital visual interface (DVI) which links the LCD screen to the video card in the computer using a cable with a special 24 + 5 pin connector.
A DVI connection requires less image processing because the signal isn’t converted to analogue. DVI can also handle more signals per second, which may result in a higher resolution if the monitor’s suitable.
However, the difference in picture can’t be detected under normal viewing conditions, so it’s probably not worth basing your decision on this feature alone. All the models, except the Acer, have a DVI connection.
Do 19” LCD monitors cost more to run than 17” screens? It appears the answer is no — they’ll cost about the same to run over a year. Yearly running costs for a monitor that’s always on and actively displaying images ranged from $36 for the Hyundai to $50 for the ViewSonic.
This compares favourably with the results from pasts tests of 17” monitors, which ranged from $28 to $51. It appears that the 19” monitors deliver extra screen size for little or no increase in power costs.
- The yearly standby costs ranged from $0.67 for the Acer to $1.32 for the Hyundai.
However, this comparison is based on data from 17” models tested in 2004, and there may now be new energy saving models available in this category.