Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Hunt for a Good LCD

After keyboard and mouse, the next most important important part of a computing experience for me is monitor. I've been a dual monitor user since 2002, when I bought a Viewsonic P95f 19" CAD-quality CRT. This CRT pushes unbelievable refresh and resolution for it's time. My former CRT became a secondary, and since then I've never used less than 2.
In 2005 my primary display became a Dell 2001FP (20" LCD, 1600x1200), and my P95f became my secondary. For around a year I've wanted to find a new primary display, and I searched for several months before I settled on one.

It's 2009 - LCD technology should have advanced quite a bit since my last purchase, and you can buy more, larger, and cheaper displays than ever. Why is it so hard to find a display with good all-around characteristics?  I'm apparently not the only one with this problem.

I care about:
  • Color accuracy
  • Response time
  • Input lag
  • Resolution
  • Warranty, dead pixel replacement policy
  • Adjustable stand (height, swivel, and ability to invert display vertically)
  • Viewing Angle
  • Menus and general configuration ability
  • Inputs
Not All LCD Panels are Created Equal, as Jeff Atwood posted a couple years ago. He listed a nice summary on TN, PVA, and IPS display pros and cons.

My search was for a 22-25" display with a resolution of 1920x1200 or higher. Being used to 1600x1200, I wanted to maintain at least the same vertical resolution. I also wanted IPS, as it seems to have the best characteristics of the three (best color, low input lag (though more than TN), good response time). In the $350-750 range, I wanted a display that fit my needs.Good IPS displays before the $1000+ range seem quite hard to find.

One of the biggest challenges is where to BUY an LCD from. You want absolute certainty you will be happy with the color, and you want to be safe from dead pixels. Big box stores typically don't carry higher quality LCDs, since most people just want something cheap. I ruled out Newegg, as they have an 8 dead pixel policy before a display is eligible for return. No thanks - I do other shopping there, but not for an LCD.

Along the way, I've found a great LCD review site: TFT Central. After reviews ruled out some of my other choices, I noticed a new display that just got release:  The Dell Ultrasharp U2410. This is a 24", 1920x1200 H-IPS display.

After getting past some sore spots with Dell's panel lottery in the past, I came full circle back to Dell. Why? They have VERY good guarantees on their displays.

- Zero dead pixel guarantee
- 3 year advance exchange program if the LCD ever has any issues.

It's a no-brainer. I don't want to buy a display I'll rely on for many years without assurance that the beginning of the experience will be problem-free.

It's been a month since I got it, and I am very pleased with it :) If you're an enthusiast - treat yourself to a nice display. It will last you a lot longer, and be far more satisfying than a new videocard, cpu, or any other piece of hardware that will get out of date in a year. Those are nice to have too, but are best enjoyed with a good display.

1 comment:

  1. I am still sad that ViewSonic discontinued the P line. I like the new site layout, some quirks with the friend connect but looks pretty nice.