Making Your PC Work For You – Buying a Monitor – CRT vs LCD

Making Your PC Work For You – Buying a Monitor – CRT vs LCD

When buying a new computer monitor, a recent point to consider is whether you will buy a standard CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) type, or a newer LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) format. To help you decide, I’ve detailed many of the key points to consider.

LCD’s are fairly new and very nice looking but are they really better than traditional CRT’s? Here is a look at some of the pros and cons. First, Liquid Crystal Displays have been around for years in laptops and have gone through numerous technology advances. They have become brighter, increased resolutions, reduced response times and as they become more and more popular, they have also become cheaper. They have also become larger — up to 42 inches in some TVs.

LCD screens work by trapping a liquid crystal solution between 2 layers of polarized glass. An electric voltage that either allows or blocks light by controlling where and what wavelength or colour is allow to pass through can then manipulate this liquid. A backlight provides the brightness and can last for approximately 20 – 25 years of daily 8 hour use. (Too bad my first LCD didn’t know that!!).

One of the latest advances is a TFT or Thin Film Transistor. This new TFT-LCD has a very thin transistor added to the glass, which enhances the resolution and sharpness of the image.

We can see that LCDs have made huge advances in technology, but how do they stack up against traditional CRT displays?

IMAGE BRIGHTNESS – Hands down LCD wins. An LCD is approximately twice as bright as a CRT. Anyone who has the sun shining on their monitor will really appreciate this.

CONTRAST – is important for viewing in low light. One may think, well it’s brighter so it’s better, but this is not always correct. Contrast makes sure that black is black and not some grayish colour. This feature is important for gaming and movie playback. So who wins? CRTs. LCDs have made great leaps and are almost as good as a CRT, but only the best LCDs are comparable the CRTs. The good news is that the gap is narrowing quickly.

COLOUR – CRT displays still win this area in regard to colour purity and quality. Again, LCDs have made huge leaps and now offer bold brilliant colours and the average user may not notice the difference. Again for gaming and movie watching and also professional image editing this difference can range from slight to significant, especially in side-by-side comparison.

SIZE/WEIGHT – Obviously one can see just by looking at each one that LCDs are lighter and smaller. LCD screens can be as light as 8 pounds and 6-8 inches deep including the base or stand. CRTs, on the other hand, are 40-50 pounds and usually over 15 inches deep.

SCREEN BURN-IN – This issue is not really a problem for either as CRTs have also made improvements over time. Some CRTs may still suffer from this problem, but LCDs have no screen burn-in at all. The secret for LCDs is the way they are manufactured; a still image will never be burnt on to the screen.

VIEWING ANGLE – Look at a laptop screen on various angles and you’ll see that a CRT holds the advantage. LCDs have made improvements and some offer a viewing angle of over 160 degrees.

RESPONSE TIME – is the time it takes for screen to update a colour change. This very important for gaming and watching movies. The best LCDs are below 20 milliseconds, but CRTs have a negligible delay.

SCREEN FLICKER – If you spend lots of time in front of a computer you may suffer from headaches or become tried. This is because CRTs refresh their screens rated in MHz. The human eye can pick up a refresh rate of 60Mhz causing the eye and the brain to be constantly adjusting to the monitor. Ever see a monitor being shown on TV and notice the lines moving from top to bottom? That is the screen refreshing. The higher the refresh rate, the less your eyes can pick it up. Most CRTs can do 85 MHz which is good. The refresh rate can be affected by a setting in windows, the monitor and the video card. LCDs on the other hand have no flicker: The winner, LCD.

MAGNETIC INTERFERENCE – LCDs take this category as well, as they are not affected by magnetic sources such as speakers. Take a large speaker and slowly move it closer to your CRT, eventually it will go all fuzzy. This is not recommended practice as it can hurt your monitor, but once probably won’t do anything unless your have a really old screen.

POWER CONSUMPTION – In today’s power consumption-wise world, this is important. LCD = 20-50 watts; CRT = 50-160+ watts. Winner, LCD.

DEAD PIXELS – A flaw that can happen in LCDs is dead pixels. A dead pixel is a pixel that simply does not work, sort of like a burnt out bulb on a large score board. A dead pixel cannot be fixed and if in the middle of your screen can be annoying. Some manufacturer warranties cover dead pixels but not all. Again the LCDs are improving. CRTs do not have this problem.

PRICE – LCDs are coming down and you can now buy them for less than $500.00 but CRTs are still cheaper at less than $200.00 cdn.

The score: LCD 6 CRT 6
As you can see they are close but LCD is my choice.

WINDOWS TIPS – Protect Your Identity

Like many other audio players, Windows Media Player rushes out to the Internet to find information for you when you play a CD. Some of this information, such as song titles and album art, is useful, but Media Player also identifies your copy of Media Player to the site where it’s getting data. Why? According to the help file, “The server uses this unique identifier to monitor your connection. By monitoring your connection, the server can make adjustments to increase the playback quality and to alert you about events that occur when receiving streams over the Internet.”

If you’re disturbed by this exchange of information, here’s how to stop it. In Windows Media Player, click Tools > Options and go to the Player tab. Notice the option that says “Allow Internet sites to uniquely identify your player?” Turn it off.


Enjoy your own fireworks!!! –

If you have any questions or suggestions for topics you want discussed please email me c/o The Voice.

The Voice accepts no responsibility for loss of data or any other computer related problem you might encounter as a result of following computer advice in this or any other column. The tip of the week is intended to help you personalize your computer system. Novice users should ensure they understand the directions, and make backups of any files changed.

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