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How to buy a monitor

Screen Size

One of the most important factors to take into account when choosing a computer monitor is screen size, as it has a huge impact on your viewing experience. And while bigger may seem better, a large monitor might not fit your desk space, so keep that in mind when shopping. But if you have the room, consider a 30-inch or larger monitor for an immersive experience while watching movies or playing games. Beyond that, if desk space isn't a problem, another option is a dual monitor setup which is ideal for increasing productivity.

Resolution

Resolution is another key factor to consider when choosing a computer monitor and goes hand in hand with screen size. Typically, the bigger the screen, the higher the resolution. And the higher the resolution, the clearer and sharper the image quality. Resolutions range from standard HD and Full HD all the way up to 4K Ultra HD. 4K sports a massive 3840 x 2160 pixel makeup to deliver dazzling, true-to-life visuals and a truly immersive viewing experience.

Display Types

LCD monitors provide quality performance, usually at an affordable price, and are great for watching movies or viewing photos. LED monitors offer crisp, vividly colourful images that are gentler on the eyes and consume less power, making it a better choice for gaming or working in front of a screen for hours at a time. LED monitors are still LCDs, but they have advanced LED backlighting. IPS monitors deliver deeper blacks and more accurate color than most LED or LCD monitors, making them great for photo editing, graphics work and gaming.

Response Time

Response time refers to the amount of time it takes the pixels to change from black to white on a screen, which can greatly affect how sharp a moving image will appear. The shorter the response time, the less lag you’ll experience and the smoother the image transitions will be. If you’re a hardcore gamer or an action movie buff, you should consider a monitor with a response time of 1 to 5 milliseconds. It’ll minimize annoying effects like ghosting and smearing to bring you fluid, accurate movement even during fast-paced sequences.

New Technology

Two new monitor categories to get excited about are 4K monitors and curved monitors. 4K monitors offer better detail and clarity, smoother lines, and stunning, true-to-life visuals that reproduce the cinema experience at home. Curved monitors add another dimension to your viewing experience by providing a wider field of view that complements the curvature of your eyeballs, creating a fully immersive panoramic screen you can enjoy from virtually any angle.

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Tips on How to Choose a Monitor

Your desktop computer gives you access to digital movies, music and photos as well as websites and email, but without a monitor it’s not much use. These tips should help you choose the monitor that’ll best suit the way you want to view your digital life.

1. Take a closer look at your computing needs.

Consider how the monitor will address your computing needs. Perhaps you just want a basic window for browsing the web, writing emails or creating documents. Do you plan to run multiple programs at once and prefer to view all the windows in one screen, or is the monitor going to be the mainstay of your digital entertainment?

2. Resolution 101.

Resolution refers to the number of pixels making up an image on a screen. A 1280 x 1024 resolution, common in monitors 19 inches and under, offers great display quality for everyday computing tasks. If you want to use your monitor as a TV, the popular 1920 x 1080 resolution delivers full high-definition quality.

3. Select the screen size for your needs.

Screen size and resolution often go hand in hand. Monitors between 17” to 20” offer enough screen space for office work or home photo editing, and 20” to 22” are great for playing 720-pixel HD movies.

For Full HD viewing and entertainment, opt for 23” to 24” monitors, some of which offer the latest ports for connecting to your computer like HDMI and DisplayPort. Gaming and multimedia enthusiasts will appreciate 25-inchers and up, which can easily display 2560 x 1440 resolutions.

4. The 4K Ultra HD: the next big thing for graphics pros?

As the name implies, 4K Ultra HD (aka UHD) delivers a minimum 3840 x 2160 resolution, which is higher than an HDTV or high-end Full HD 1080p monitor. It’s great for graphics-intensive apps like media editing software or video games. Bear in mind, you’ll need a computer with suitable graphics card firepower.

5. Know the difference between LCD and LED.

Many monitors use LCD (liquid crystal display) technology, which is budget-friendly and delivers the sharpness and clarity for watching movies or viewing photos. LED (light-emitting diode) technology, on the other hand, offers crisp, vividly colourful images and tends to be pricier than LCD. It’s also gentler on the eyes and consumes less power, making it a better choice for gaming or working in front of a screen for hours at a time.

6. Understand your choices.

Besides image sharpness, viewing angles, contrast ratio, response time, touchscreen and swivel options are also good considerations. For snappy video image transitions, TN (twisted nematic) panels offer response times at two milliseconds or less. Viewing angles along with contrast ratio determine how well you can see an image whether you’re staring at the screen dead centre or from the side.

IPS (in-plane switching), VA (vertical alignment) and PLS (plane-line switching) panels tend to offer good viewing angles as well as true-to-life colour reproduction. Consider hands-on navigation with a touchscreen display and a monitor’s pivoting flexibility so you can switch between vertical and landscape orientations.

7. Make the right connections.

Make sure your computer has the right hook-ups for display. An HDMI port is the most common digital connection since it’s available on most televisions and computer monitors, carries audio, and supports up to 4K Ultra HD resolutions (HDMI 2.0). Likewise, DisplayPort allows for video and audio to be sent over the same cable. Most new monitors have the DVI (digital visual interface) ports you need, although not all include a DVI cable. DVI is the same as HDMI except it doesn’t generally transmit audio.

Want more info? Check out some of our resources:

Computer Monitor Buying Guide