I use my computer daily for a variety of tasks, including:
- Browsing the web
- Playing games
- Watching movies
- Photo editing
My current monitor is the Sony FW900, the enormous god of the CRT world. The specs:
- It’s 24”, 22.5” viewable
- Widescreen (16:10) I run it at 1920x1200, although since it’s a CRT, it also handles any resolution below that with ease (which is awesome for gaming!)
- Great colors, contrast & blacks
- Totally flat screen
- Excellent detail, with text as sharp as any LCD
- It weighs ~95lbs!
It has been a great monitor, but I’m thinking of giving it to my dad. He likes to run his dying 19” CRT at 800x600 to make the text HUGE. Since LCD’s typically look blurry at anything but their non-native resolution - and the native resolution would always have smaller fonts than what he wants - it probably makes the most sense to give him my CRT rather than buy him a new LCD.
So now my quest is to find a replacement for myself. The requirements for my new monitor are as follows:
- It must be an LCD: I want something thin, so CRT & DLP are out. Plasma won’t work as a monitor, as they are subject to burn in. A projector with a high resolution is absurdly expensive.
- The resolution must be 1920x1080 (1080p) or above. Any less and I’d be losing out on valuable resolution for productivity applications and it would feel like a step down from my current screen.
- The screen size must be 27” or above. Any less and it wouldn’t feel like much of an upgrade over the behemoth screen I have now.
- The colors, contrast & black levels must be very strong. I doubt any (affordable) LCD can match the FW900, but I’m sure many are “good enough”.
The requirements above leave me with 3 possible monitor types:
27” or 28” LCD monitor
(+) Color/blacks performance can be very strong.
(+) Probably the cheapest option.
(+/-) 1920x1200 resolution (same as I have now)
(-) Screen size isn’t that much bigger, so games/movies would look roughly the same
(-) If I have to lower the resolution for gaming, either I’d have to deal with scaling (crappier quality) or if I do 1:1 pixel matching, I’d effectively be playing on a smaller screen (defeats the purpose of upgrading).
30” LCD monitor
(+) Ridiculously high 2560x1600 resolution is amazing for productivity
(+) Color/black performance should be excellent
(+) 30” screen would be a noticeable upgrade in size
(-) I can’t possibly run games at that resolution, so either I’d have to deal with scaling (crappier quality) or if I do 1:1 pixel matching, I’d effectively be playing on a smaller screen (defeats the purpose of upgrading).
(-) Very expensive
32”+ LCD tv
(+) Enormous screen size is amazing for movies + gaming
(+) There are 120Hz models which are still more amazing for movies
(+/-) Resolution maxes out at 1920x1080, so it’s a *slight *step down in resolution
(+/-) If I can’t run a game at this resolution, I’d either have to deal with scaling (crappier quality) or if I do 1:1 pixel matching, I’d effectively be playing on a smaller screen. However, since the screen is so much larger already, even at a lower resolution with 1:1 it would still be pretty big.
(+/-) Color/black level performance is much more mixed
(-) There aren’t many high quality 1080p sets below the 42” size, which would probably be WAY too big just a few feet away from me on my desk
(-) Typically pretty expensive
Based on all the above, here are the candidates for each category:
27” or 28” LCD monitor
- Dell 2707WFP: 27”, 1920x1200, true 8 bit colors. May be a bit slow for gaming and is expensive (~$1000) for the size/features.
- Samsung 275T: 27”, 1920x1200, true 8 bit colors, incredible blacks & contrast. Apparently faster than the Dell, but might not support 1:1 mapping and is also expensive (~$1000).
- Hanns.G HG-281DPB: 28”, 1920x1200, super fast 3ms response time. Color accuracy is nowhere near as good as the Samsung and Dell, but at under $600 this is definitely the budget option.
30” LCD monitor
- Dell 3007WFP: 30”, 2560x1600, true 8 bit colors. Should be amazing all around. Costs around $1200.
- Samsung 305T: 30”, 2560x1600, true 8 bit colors. Should be amazing all around. Costs around $1300.
32”+ LCD tv
- Sharp Aquos LC32GP1U: 32”, 1920x1080, 2000:1 native contrast, 6ms response. Colors seem decent and response time should be terrific for gaming. However, I’ve heard of numerous issues with this screen, especially that the dynamic contrast can’t be shut off and can be very annoying when using it as a monitor. Price is around $1100.
- Westinghouse LVM-37W3SE: 37”, 1920x1080, 1000:1 native contrast, 8ms response. Colors, blacks and contrast will be fairly crappy. The response time and crisp image should be amazing. This is also a huge screen, so movies & gaming should be incredible. At around $800, this is also one hell of a bargain.
- Samsung LNT4071F: 40”, 1920x1080, 25000:1 (dynamic), 8ms, 120hz. Colors and contrast should be incredible. Movies (esp. w/ 120hz) and games will look phenomenal. However, 40” may be too big on my desk and the price (~$1550) is quite steep.
All in all, this is a tough choice. I think the 27”/28” screens are out of the running: given the price, they aren’t much of an upgrade and for gaming (where I’d have to lower the resolution), they’d be a worse investment still. The 30” screen sounds very enticing, but again, if I try gaming I might be very disappointed. Therefore, I’m now leaning towards the large LCD TV’s. I might be able to game at their native resolution, and if not, even with 1:1 mapping, the image will still be huge. However, due to the lack of smaller 1080p TV’s, my best bet is probably the 40” Samsung, but that might give me a headache from being way too big to sit close to.