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Best value for a LCD monitor ?

by grimgraphix / September 10, 2005 1:46 AM PDT

I'm shopping around for a monitor today... One that is perfect and is almost free would fit the bill but I realize thats unrealistic so any recommendations for the next best thing ? I'll be switching it between my iBook and a win box. I will be using it to review and work with photographs. It's going in the bedroom office so an analog TV connection would be nice but not imperative - picture resolution is more important. Oh... and it needs to let the dogs out in the middle of the night. I want something for $300.00 or less. I found one Magnavox that meets the criteria but not thrilled by that brand.

No... I'm not drinking right now... it's still 15 minutes of noon.

I'm looking myself but if anyone has recently found a great value that they could clue me into I would be truly grateful.


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by lampietheclown / September 10, 2005 8:45 AM PDT

How about one that plays ''Who Let The Dogs Out'' every time you turn it on?


Seriously, LCD's are tough to buy. Ya go to Fry's, or Joes Monitor Emporium & Bait Shack, and there will be 30 LCD's lined up to compare both in price and quality. Price is easy. Quality is not. Here's why.

What is the ambient brightness of the room you are using to compare screens? How does that compare to the normal brightness of your work space? Is the light floresent or incandecent? Color temp. has its effect.
Those are minor things. Here's the big one.
Was the monitor set up properly, and what is the source of the content. OK, two big ones.

Any monitor can be made to look good, if you turn down the brightness and contrast of the other monitors. The sales staff at Joe's have a lot of free time when the fish ain't bitting. Suddenly a crap monitor with a huge mark-up looks better than the rest of the selections!

There are a hundred people a day playing with the settings of each monitor, and some days, a hundred of them have no clue what they are doing.

If the source is over-driving a color, a monitor that is weak in that color might look better than the one next to it. Same with contrast.

One other thing. LCDs are getting better, but very few professionals use LCDs when color is critical, because the color range of an LCD is inferior to that of a CRT, and because everything changes on an LCD if you just change your seat height a bit. Consistancy is not the LCDs strong suit.

Now that I've convinced you that there is no way to shop for and find a quality LCD, and that it will be crap even if you get lucky, here's the other side.

If you are editing for your own use, then if it looks good to you, it rocks!

If you are editing for the web, then you are editing for those hundred ''consumers'' mentioned earlier. Their monitors at home are as screwed up as the ones they ''tried out'' at Fry's. This means that if your monitor causes you to adjust everything a little on the warm side, half of the people's set-up will be perfect for it, and others will think you're a hack.

On a side note, Macs run a brighter Gamma setting than PC's do (new, right out of the box) so if you brighten things up for the PC crowd it might look a bit washed out on the mac. On the other hand, make it look good on your mac, and PCers will think it's subtle and edgy.

If you are editing for high end comercial use, A) get a CRT. and B) you can buy an expensive calabration tool that you stick onto the screen with suction cups, and your monitor will be perfect every time... For you... and ahh... everyone else that has the same set-up.

Er... Get the picture?

By the way, I have an NEC 17" LCD that is brighter and has better color than my Ti 15" Powerbook. I use it for editing web content, with the stock color profile. It was on sale.


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thanks for the input...
by grimgraphix / September 10, 2005 4:01 PM PDT
In reply to: Close?

I found this link to be helpful and disconcerting at the same time...

I sold conventional CRT TVs along with RP CRT TVs and a few plasmas for about 6 years but got out of the biz about 2 years back... just as the LCD TV's were really starting to come down in price and more models were available. Can you believe we sold a 20" sharp aquos for around $1500.00 just 3 years ago ? Standard definition at that price as well ! I know many of the tricks for calibrating TVs but little about monitors so your advice is helpful. I can relate to the customers messing with the adjustments all the time... I was often amazed at what most people thought a "good" picture was ! Overdriven, Over-saturated, Black levels ignored in favor of a super bright picture... Basically everything a Sony TVs picture looks like right out of the box. LOL

If desk space was not such a deciding factor right now I would definitely go with the CRT monitor. Unfortunately, I've decided to get another degree to enhance my current market value and half the classes need Winbox for CAD drawing and half use Macs. Of course my 12" iBook has its own screen (BTW... what is the quality of the G4s LCD screen anyway). The 19" CRT is just way too big on my desk since I now have $400.00 worth of text books that need to be open as I work on the various class exercises. Ambient light is not an issue as I have black out curtains courtesy of my IATSE work in the bedroom. Why the office in the bedroom ? So I can study without interruption from the rest of the house... Feels like I'm back in the dorms .

I look at the darn fish-tank screen savers in every Bloody store and wonder if it's the monitor, the video card, or just the #&%$ screen saver that makes the things look so bad. The link above points out that even 2 of the same model may not perform the same. Flaws in the technology or just bad quality control ? Then you have the extra perks like TVs built into the monitors... of course I could always get a TV card for the winbox tower instead but wheres the fun in that. Really... I need to study... but then again with college football on right now...

The Samsung syncmasters seem to get good reviews. Is this across the board or just for certain models ? Reason I ask is Sam's club seems to have quite a few of these at low price. I know you get what you pay for but sometimes you do find a deal so as long as it doesn't distort color I'm fine with it right now. Anyone have any pros and cons about this manufacturer's product ?


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by rbm163 / September 15, 2005 11:36 PM PDT

after doing extensive research and reading numerous, numerous reviews of both users opinions and technical reviews, i purchased a dell 1905fp. after getting coupons from i paid $385! you can't beat that with a stick!! its a great monitor. its as bright or brighter than all monitors this size and it's crystal clear. not only does it have totally adjustable vertical height, it can be rotated 90d if you do a lot of word processing. check it out, you won't be disappointed.

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Dell 17" Flat Panel LCD Monitor 1704FPT
by pacerintl / September 16, 2005 1:15 AM PDT
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LCD Monitors
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / September 16, 2005 1:33 AM PDT

I note that both the advisors, in the previous two posts, are Windows users.
How well does either of these two monitors work with a Mac, the machine on which the new LCD monitor will be used?
In fact, this monitor is not suitable for connection to the iBook as there is no DVI-D connection on the iBook.


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good point Peter
by grimgraphix / September 16, 2005 2:59 AM PDT
In reply to: LCD Monitors

Actually I will be using this monitor on both an iBook, a Win98 machine, and an XP box that I have most of the parts for but have not assembled yet. (reason for the multi boxes is since I started on a 2nd degree I have run into a few required classes that do online testing that only is compatible with MS... B #^%$* DS)

Still, aside from the analog vs digital connection issue... is there anything else that might stop a LCD monitor from being used on one os machine but not the other ? Driver issues maybe? Or even same monitor performs better on one OS but not the other. I can't think of any reason for this to be the case but stranger things have happened... Like not being able to take an online test on a mac (figures since its a required class on MS Office 2003)


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Best Value For 17 Inch LCD Monitor
by Patndianne / September 16, 2005 3:20 AM PDT

From my past experience owning a View Sonic CRT monitor for five years without loss of resolution or having any operating problems, I recently purchased another View Sonic product. I bought a 17 inch graphics model from Comp USA mail order for around $350.00. I have had it for six months and it has provided outstanding performance. I am betting on the performance of my previous View Sonic monitor that my current purchase will serve me just as well. And, by the way, my old View Sonic is still in service with my other pc.


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So far best bang for the buck
by purple_squirrel / September 16, 2005 5:50 AM PDT

I was just recently down this same road and the options made my swirl.

Wanting to stay away from "house brands" and looking at NEC, LG, HP, ViewSonic, Samsung and a couple of others, I finally settled on and purchased the ViewSonic VA702b for $309.99 Canadian (about $265.00 give or take).

It's a full 17" 12ms response time, with a refresh rate up to 85 Hz (keep the bare minimum of 75 Hz in mind for reduced "screen flicker", the higher the better). I've been using it for a month now and I am amazed at the quality of such an inexpensive monitor. The reason I bought one was originally to do with severe eyestrain from my old CRT monitor. I now no longer have shoulder aches as I am able to postion this monitor within my workspace better, and my eyes no longer feel like they're burning.

I'm very pleased with the VA702b Happy

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Best values here
by timandlorene / September 16, 2005 12:04 PM PDT

Go to They have 16 19" LCD monitors for under $300. I have been dealing with them for 3 years now, and have NEVER been disappointed. They are a well run and responsible company.

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Viewsonic 724 or Samsung 730B
by alleung / September 16, 2005 11:18 PM PDT
In reply to: Best values here

Best 17" available, 724 better response time @ 4ms; 730b better contrast @ 600
agree has good deals

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Samsung 730B
by pierrot.robert / September 18, 2005 11:02 PM PDT

I just bought this minitor for 300$ CAN with a DVI cable and it is just perfect, even for gaming.

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Some more points
by ackmondual / September 20, 2005 3:51 AM PDT

First off, i tend to agree with the 2nd post (the really long one). The 'perfect' LCD, other than its price, can only be determined by whether or not it looks right to you. Walking into a retail store is a good way to determine some of this, but not the onlly way, and can sometimes be misleading

If possible, get an 18"+ LCD. Tom's Hardware Guide mentioned that 17" LCDs are in shortage, so while they're still cheaper than bigger sized LCDs, 18"+ LCDs will get you the best bang for the buck for screen size.

Some LCD attributes like response time can only be judged for yourself. U may not notice ghosting on a 20ms LCD while others notice it on a 16ms LCD.... both using the same specifications fro everything else (game, vid card, etc.)

Finally, u'll need a 18"+ LCD if u want native res higher than 1280x960. Native resolutions on LCDs is also the max, so go bigger sized native res if u want more pixels

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Thanks and one comment
by grimgraphix / September 20, 2005 4:43 AM PDT
In reply to: Some more points

I read several 17" reviews on Tom's Hardware and one interesting thing they mention is that while 16 ms latency (is that the right term for response time ?) may be advertised, there testing methods they use showed real world numbers as bad as 23 ms.

I'm not a gamer per se... I played long hours of Civilization on PC but do the bulk on PS2 and Xbox since it's hooked up to the 5.1 receiver with the Energy speakers and the 12" sub... so speed is not an issue.

picture quality and the possibility of using it as a TV as well has been the main criteria in my search. I keep going back to the magnavox 15MF605T that they have at Sam's Club for $300.00. It's HD capable and had a decent picture for a TV (ntsc tuner built in), had a better picture when they hooked it up to a PC at my request BUT the color was off when viewing TV signals and I did not have the time (or the software) to see what kind of picture the panel got on the PC. 15" was kind of small as well ( though my main CRT is a 17" sony... it seemed huge when I got it 5 years back).

I'm not cheap but I want value for the money I worked long hours to earn. I really appreciate every ones input but to be honest I'm not as impressed with the LCD technology out right now as I thought I would be. I'm still looking so anymore input is very welcome.


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The consistency problem
by lampietheclown / September 20, 2005 9:28 AM PDT
In reply to: Thanks and one comment

If you want a consistent reference to compare monitors with, try this.
Find a DVD that has elements which will test a screen. Colors, contrast, etc. Take it and your i-Mac with you when you shop. This way, you are seeing the same picture, from the same source, every time.
Since you brought up quality differences among identical monitors, you may want to test the one out of the box, not the floor model. Also, it will be factory adjusted, not "yahoo tuned". If they don't want to open a box, tell them you want to check for dead pixels before you take it home, You can download a free pixel checker here.


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(NT) (NT) Sorry, that's i-Book, not i-Mac
by lampietheclown / September 20, 2005 9:29 AM PDT
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thanks for the idea
by grimgraphix / September 20, 2005 1:23 PM PDT

I used to use Sound & Visions home theater test disc when I ran a sideline business of home theater installation. I just never thought to bring it with me as a reference disk to check out monitors. It has many of the pro reference test patterns but cost half as much.

thanks LtC


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Not my idea...
by lampietheclown / September 20, 2005 1:46 PM PDT
In reply to: thanks for the idea

... I got it from every FOH audio guy I've ever had to work with.
Every day for three years I heard the same Sade track over and over as the FOH jockey tuned the system to a new room.
When he got fired, the new guy came in with his Thomas Dolby CD. Six years, that's what it took to get him to try a new reference track.
I should get Mental Anguish Pay for some.. of ... er... oops.
Sorry, wrong meeting...


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Oh...I get it.
by grimgraphix / September 20, 2005 11:30 PM PDT
In reply to: Not my idea...

Just like how I used the same blue, 6o watt light bulb when I did lighting for "electric company on ice" eight days in a row !



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(NT) (NT) On the Nose!
by lampietheclown / September 21, 2005 4:09 AM PDT
In reply to: Oh...I get it.
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