Flat screens offer sharp viewing
- By Dan Carney
- Jun 12, 2000
Monitors are the one component of a computer where what you see is, indeed,
what you get. And with each of the three new flat screens covered in this
review, what you get is clear, sharp displays that are a joy to view.
Bear in mind that these products are not the same as the LCD flat-panel
displays that are only an inch or so thick. These units — one each from
IBM Corp., Mitsubishi Electronics America Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co.
Ltd. — are the same size as normal cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors. The
difference is that the front of the glass tube is flat instead of curved — flat enough, in fact, to lay a straight edge on.
While the physical difference between a flat screen and a conventional
one is slight, the difference in the viewed display is startling; it's what
the picture should have looked like all along.
The primary ergonomic benefit of flat-screen monitors is that they reflect
glare in only a single direction, making it easy for the user to get a clear
view with a simple tilt of the monitor. A curved screen, on the other hand,
reflects glare in all directions, making it impossible for the user to minimize
glare except by eliminating its source.
The downside? As with all new technologies, the price is higher, so customers
must decide whether the difference is enough to justify the price premium.
There is one other potential problem for some users. Since all three
of these monitors use Sony Electronics Inc. Trinitron CRTs, which employ
aperture grille screen masks, the displays are marred by a faint pair of
horizontal lines on the screen that are especially visible on white backgrounds,
such as on word processors. These lines are shadows from the horizontal
damper wires that support the vertical mask. If you find those lines distracting,
you'll want a different display.
Each of the reviewed units has its pros and cons. The IBM display has
an extra-large screen and gives customers some decorating style with its
black cabinet, but that cabinet is very large and the price tag is high.
The Mitsubishi boasts a low price and a bright, crisp picture, while the
costlier Samsung monitor features finely adjustable color-matching, making
it good for customers producing color materials.
—Carney is a freelance writer based in Herndon, Va.