One of the easiest ways to improve your productivity in the office is to invest in a bigger (or in a second) monitor. Take a moment to consider all the time you spend dragging, resizing, minimizing, maximizing, and switching between open applications. Extra screen space will let you more efficiently multitask by allowing you to see and reference the data found on what were previously background applications.
Modern PCs and laptops are also capable of spanning a Windows Desktop across multiple monitors, and some even support three monitors at once. Here’s what you should consider when thinking about investing in a new monitor.
First, take a moment to think about the size of the LCD (liquid-crystal display) monitor in which you would like to invest. You’ll generally find the most value in screen sizes from 21 to 23 inches, as these monitors typically support HD-quality video resolutions, provide a wide variety of input options, and are not priced at a premium rate, thanks to their large demand. Monitors with screen sizes of 20 inches and under are typically even more affordable, but the reduced screen real estate may limit your ability to multitask and watch video in HD quality.
Displays sized 24 inches and larger are ideal for those working in graphics design, image-editing, and video-editing roles, thanks to the large canvas and support for 1080p video quality. That said, you’ll typically pay a premium for these larger monitors, especially if you’re looking at screen sizes above 27 inches. Of course, screen size isn’t the only thing that factors into a monitor’s price; there are different technologies that affect color and viewing quality. Read on to learn more about these.
LCD vs LED
LED (light-emitting diode) monitors (which are in fact actually a type of LCD) provide you with truer color quality and more lifelike video than what you’ll find on a traditional LCD monitor, because LED displays offer improved brightness and contrast and more control over the gradation of light intensity. The advantages are due to the light emitting diodes used for backlighting, as compared to the cold cathode fluorescent lamps that backlight traditional LCD monitors. Other than the backlight, LED-based displays utilize most of the same technology as LCD monitors to display content.
Another benefit of LED monitors is that they use less energy than a LCD monitor, so an LED-based display can also help to reduce your energy bill. There used to be a large price jump for monitors with LED backlights, but now the cost difference is negligible. Thus, selecting an LED monitor is a wise investment.
TN Vs. IPS
The vast majority of LCD monitors use TN (twisted nematic) panels to display images on-screen; this is so common that a TN panel isn’t usually listed among the specs. On the flip side, LCD displays with IPS (in-plane switching) panels will certainly be noted in the specs, as advantages of IPS monitors include wide viewing angles and extremely accurate color. The primary (and perhaps only) advantage of TN-based LCDs over IPS displays is that TN technology costs less to manufacture.
Both types of panels can offer fast response times, in the range of 5ms or less, ensuring that video won’t look choppy on-screen. Those working with tasks that require accurate color reproduction, such as designers, should look for a monitor that uses IPS technology. For general office work, traditional displays with the (less expensive) TN technology should work just fine.
Today’s monitors are generally compatible with a few different types of video inputs to ensure compatibility with the variety of outputs, such as HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface), DVI (Digital Visual Interface), and DisplayPort, found on today’s PCs and mobile devices. DisplayPort is the newest video interface on the block, and it allows for even higher video bandwidth than HDMI. Display Port should eventually supplant legacy VGA (Video Graphics Array) and DVI video outputs, which are what you’ll find on most PCs made in the last few years. If you plan on connecting more than just a PC to your monitor, we recommend investing in a monitor that supports HDMI, as it’s one of the most popular hi-res video outputs on today’s portable technology.
It’s important that the monitor you choose is compatible with the types of video outputs found on the devices you use, but note that adapters (such as DVI-to-HDMI and HDMI-to-DisplayPort) and adapter cables can add some flexibility to your monitor choice. If you’re looking to future-proof a monitor, you may want to consider investing in a display featuring an HDMI or DisplayPort input. Those with PCs that only offer DVI outputs could invest in an adapter, so the monitor will work with your current PC, and you’ll be set up with a monitor that is more likely to be compatible with the video output found on your next PC.
The recent evolution of touchscreen technology has combined with Windows 8, which features a touchcentric interface, to push touchscreens to forefront. Of course, you’ll pay a little extra for a touchscreen monitor, but if the touchscreen will save you time and effort, it may be the way to go. For example, let’s say you want to give customers a way to browse and search through your inventory without needing to ask a clerk, but you don’t have a free counter on which to place a mouse and keyboard. A touchscreen would let you mount the monitor to any wall, where the customer can simply walk up and begin his search. Similarly, a touchscreen PC at your point-of-sale terminal may be a quick way to increase the speed and accuracy of transactions.
We suggest that you look for a monitor that’s qualifies for Windows 8 certification, as that allows the monitor support gestures, such as swiping your finger inward from the right edge to bring up the Charm bar. Touchscreen monitors are currently a bit more expensive, so you’ll need to weigh the benefits against the extra cost you may incur.
In the following pages, we’ll provide you with troubleshooting and maintenance tips for your new monitor, and tell you a bit about how they work. This will help you find the causes of problems and keep the monitor in top working condition.