They’re slim, they’re affordable, and better than ever. Stop wasting time… get one!
If we had to choose one product line that’s made the most inroads into our markets this year, it’d have to be flat panels. They’ve been hanging around the fringes for a while, their accessibility restricted mostly by price, and partially by ignorance on the part of us consumers.
LCDs are eye-friendly, power-friendly, space-friendly, not to mention getting embarrassingly close to CRTs with regards to what they can do with colours and contrasts. So why the hesitation from consumers in India? One word—price. Ours is a value driven market, and why would someone spend 15-odd grand on a 19-inch LCD monitor when a CRT of the same size is available for half? The scenario has changed drastically this year—a trend we see continuing.
Types of LCD Panels
The most common LCD panel type—TN (Twisted Nematic) panels have experienced sharp declines in pricing, and our markets have been flooded with such panels. Twisted Nematic panels are basically the cheapest to manufacture and the most widely available of all LCD panels. These panels were scorned earlier for the fact that they’re typically 18-bit panels capable of displaying only 262,000 colours. To bump up the colour count a technique called “dithering” is used which allows them to get to the magical figure of 24-bit colours (i.e. 16.7 million). The other types of LCD panels are the super costly but brilliant S-IPS (Super In-Plane Switching). S-IPS panels are mostly used by photo studios or any imaging applications where CRT-like colour accuracy is required. They are also very costly.
The other kind of panel is PVA (Patterned Vertical Alignment) which is the panel type that good LCD TV screens use—mainly because of the amazing contrast ratios that these panels sport.
The new buzzword it seems is widescreen which is understandable with all the hype surrounding High Definition content which is a widescreen format. We’ve seen 19-inch monitors based on these TN panels become mainstream, and with prices falling even lower the larger 22-inch panels seem well on their way becoming the new mainstream!
Unfortunately the costlier (read better) panels like PVA (Patterned Vertical alignment) and S-IPS (Super-In Plane Switching) panels are still prohibitively costly, but we’re positive that 2008 will see price inroads there as well.
What You Should Be Looking At
Gaming: If you’re a gamer you’d probably shy away from the term “widescreen.” Not any more—nearly all games these days support proper widescreen resolutions. Just keep in mind the performance of your graphics card before going for a really big monitor. You may find your card inadequate to run games at such a LCD’s native resolution. For example, for running the latest games at a resolution of 1680 x 1050 with details on maximum and AntiAliasing enabled will require something like a GeForce 8800GTS—a costly proposition. If you want a screen for gaming with the occasional movie then you have a big dilemma. Twenty four-inch PVA panels are the best buy—your monitor will really stress out your graphics card, particularly at a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels. You need to choose something a like a 19-inch or 22-inch widescreen depending on your graphics card.
Home Entertainment: Keywords—widescreen, and big. If you’re serious about using your PC as a High Definition multimedia station, take a serious look at PVA panel based monitors. They have much better contrast ratios and brightness levels, and wider viewing angles as compared to cheaper TN panels. Just watching a PVA and a TN panel running side by side will make you see the light (pun intended). We suggest a 24-inch monitor, which should set you back by around Rs 35,000—costly, but the results will blow you away. You will get a full HD (1080p) supporting resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels.
|Take a look at the colours and contrast of an LCD before buying one. If possible take a pen drive with DisplayMate on it. It’s a wonderful way to check what each monitor can do.|
If you want something cheaper—more bang per buck—look at cheaper 22-inch TN panels. Expect to pay anything between 14,000 and 17,000 for a 22-inch monitor. Choices are unlimited as all vendors have offerings in this category, and the market is full of these panels. Resolution will be 1680 x 1050 pixels. Conversely if you have more money to burn look at 27-inch monitors from the likes of Dell. These offer HD 1080p resolutions—and they’re much clearer than an LCD TV of the same size which will offer a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels.
Basic Multimedia PC: Look for a 19-inch monitor—we recommend a widescreen simply because they’re cheaper, and are so much better for watching movies: other applications don’t matter either way (wide or not). Nineteen-inch monitor prices have crashed, thanks to the falling prices of bigger panels. A 19-inch will cost you anywhere between 10,500 and 12,000 rupees. The screen resolution will be 1440 x 900 pixels.