Thursday, February 03, 2005

LCD Story

I've been looking forward for a long time to the day that I could replace my nearly-identical dual 19" CRT monitors with nice, shiny LCDs. I've watched the market for a few years now, ever more thankful that I didn't buy an LCD or two a couple of years back when they would have essentially been flatter CRTs, image quality-wise.
I have a Tablet PC on hand that I'll be selling in a bit here, and I've decided that I'll use the cash from selling it to buy a couple of LCDs.
Now, I've been running dual monitors since Windows 98 was in full vogue, and after this much time, I'm not going back. I love massive amounts of screen real estate in which to work. So it's been absolutely imperative to me all along that when I finally do convert to LCD, I'll be buying two identical LCDs to put side-by-side on my desk.
After I determined that the time had come, I did some research and nailed down my requirements. Here they are.
  • 16ms Response Time or better.
  • 17" Viewable Area or better (My 19" CRTs have about 17" viewable, and I'm not willing to lose viewable area.)
  • Analog (D-Sub) AND Digital (DVI) inputs. If it won't to both, I don't want it.
  • 1280 x 1024 Native Resolution. That's what I run my 19s at, and it's standard for the higher-end 17" and 19" LCD models.
  • Must be under $400 per unit after rebates, shipping and other whatnot.
  • Current customers must give uniformly good reviews of the model.
  • Less than 10" Deep.
  • Thin Bezel.
  • Black or Dark Grey Frame, Chassis, and Stand.
  • All Cables Included.
  • More than 17" Viewable.
  • Better than 16ms Response Time.
  • Less than 8" Deep.
As you can see, I want the monitor to look nice, but performance is what I'm really concerned about. Built-in speakers, for instance, don't mean a thing to me. Even if they're great, I won't be using them. I'm good on speakers, and built-in monitor speakers generally suck anyway.
Once I had my priorities determined, I knew it was time to do some serious shopping. So I sat Crystal down in front of a long movie and got to work.
After an hour and a half or so, I had seen a lot of monitors, and I really, really wanted to buy the Samsung SyncMaster 710n. It's got a 12ms Response Time! Sadly, it only supports an analog connection. The two vid cards that my computer runs each have a DVI port, so it just doesn't make sense to buy a nice LCD only to down convert the signal to analog and have the LCD re-convert it back to digital. You can't tell me that all those conversion processes won't cost some response time. It probably has the faster 12ms time just to compensate for this. So I had to pass.
Eventually, I landed on the Princeton Senergy 714. The prices for this monitor were simply unbelievable, and it had most of the features I was looking for. Here's a rundown of the basic specs:
  • 16ms Response Time
  • 17" Viewable
  • DVI and Analog connections
In my quest for information on the model, I found about 30 customer reviews of it. Three separate reviewers claimed that they've played HL2 on the monitor with no defects or ghosting. None of the reviewers claimed to have dead pixels.
And so on. I found a couple for about $250 each, and ordered them.
Yesterday they arrived at my house. I spent the night re-configuring my desk area. What can I say? These are a couple of impressive monitors. They're bright, the color is even, and the picture on them is perhaps the sharpest I've ever seen.
Me = Happy about my new monitors. Thanks, Princeton!

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