Flat screens offer sharp viewing

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.

MORE INFO

Products Tested

"IBM P96" [Federal Computer Week, June 12, 2000]

"Mitsubishi Diamond Plus 73" [Federal Computer Week, June 12, 2000]

"Samsung SyncMaster 700NF" [Federal Computer Week, June 12, 2000]

BY Dan Carney
June 12, 2000

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