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Frequently asked questions about computer monitors

Monitors are essential for anyone using a desktop computer. You can even use a monitor connected to a laptop or tablet to give you more display area for work files or games. Here are some common questions people ask when shopping for a monitor.

How do I choose the right monitor?

Someone mostly doing web searches and email will have different needs than someone regularly editing photos and videos. For example, that first person may choose a lower cost HD resolution computer monitor while the second person may opt for the newest Ultra 4K display that will bring out very fine details of their graphics needs.

Other features to consider include a low response time and fast refresh rate, very important consideration for gamers to provide smooth gameplay. No matter how you will use the monitor, you’ll want to carefully assess the size of monitor you purchase.

What size computer monitor is best?

Monitor sizes range from small (~20” diagonal) to very large (>30”). Monitors between 17” to 20” may offer enough screen space for office work or home photo editing and are great when budget, space, and portability are primary concerns; larger screens over 27” may provide a more immersive experience for gaming and watching movies.

What is the difference between an LCD and LED monitor?

Both LED and LCD screens use a layer of liquid crystals to help display the image; but, only LED monitors use light-emitting diodes for backlighting; LCD monitors use fluorescent lights behind the liquid crystals. LCD monitors tend to have the same brightness level across the entire screen whereas LED displays can often selectively brighten some areas more than others, for better contrast. Additionally, LED display can use either edge backlighting, with diodes placed along one or more edges of the display, or full-array backlighting with diodes distributed across the whole back of the crystal layer. Full-array displays can selectively dim and brighten parts of the screen, for the best clarity and contrast. Nevertheless, there are very high-quality LCD displays and high-quality LED edge lit displays.

What can I use a monitor for?

Monitors can be used to display any image from a computer or tablet. Some activities are more demanding on the monitor than others. Gaming, for example, can require the monitor to update the image on the screen frequently so they often want very low response time (less than 2 millisecond) and high refresh rate (measured in Hz). Photographers and graphical artists may require a monitor specialized for colour accuracy so the image on the display very closely resembles the final printed product.

How many monitors do I need?

Will you be best served with one monitor or more than one? If you participate in meetings during which you must refer to other applications (like documents or spreadsheets) then additional screen space may simplify your workday and boost productivity. Gaming can also be more immersive with a semi-circle of monitors putting you almost in a virtual gaming environment.