Monitor review: A pro article example

This article is from 2011. It’s not at all pertinent, today, not as a review of monitors, but I thought this might be useful to see. It’s a good, short example of what a finished article looks like when it’s sent off to a publisher.

The product links are removed at the publisher – in this case, SmartComputing; they’re there so the editor can double-check my work. At the bottom of the article are references to images with accompanying text explaining the images. The images are posted or emailed separately.

HED is short for headline and DEK is short for deck, which is a journalism term for the part of the headline that summarizes the story.


Article SC2211 20s11

HED: Affordable Monitors

DEK: A good monitor doesn’t have to be expensive

Do you spend a lot of time in front of your computer? Do you create your own videos or edit your photographs? Or are your work days filled doing online research and word processing. Whether you’re browsing the web, laying out your company’s product catalog, or making an instructional video, your monitor is probably your most important computing purchase after the computer.

A good monitor can reduce eye strain, making it easier for you to spend time working; it can help you see the details of photographs, displaying them at their intended resolution; and it can play those HD (high-definition) videos as well or better than your flat screen TV.

But what’s the first thing you think of when shopping for a monitor? The size, right? How big is it? Big is good, but purchasing a good monitor is about more than screen real estate. When choosing a monitor here are some important features to look for:

LED (light-emitting diode) Backlight

The vast majority of the flat screen monitors are LCDs (liquid crystal display). Every LCD monitor needs a light source to make the LCD visible. The old way of doing this was with CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent lamp), however LED backlight is becoming more widely available.

A monitor with LED backlight is brighter, sharper, and uses less energy than CCFL LCD monitors. Since LED backlight monitors use less energy, they will also save you money on your electric bill. They can also be built thinner than the older LCD monitors, so almost all LED backlight monitors will have a slim, space-saving design.

Native resolution

All LCD monitors are designed to display a specific resolution. This is the monitor’s native resolution. Any display resolution higher or lower than the native resolution (Sometimes also called the recommended or true resolution.) has to be scaled to fit the native mode area, leading to possible image distortion.

Higher native resolution is better, however, this is often dependent on screen size. Larger screens usually have higher native resolution. For instance, 1920 x 1080 is common for 22-24 inch monitors, while 19 inch monitors are usually 1600 x 900.

Interesting fact: If a monitor has a native resolution of 1920 x 1080, it is also an HD (high-definition) monitor. The 1080 in 1080p, the standard for HDTV, refers to this resolution, and a wide-screen aspect ratio of 16:9 is 1920 x 1080.

Aspect ratio

The aspect ratio is comparison of the dimensions of the resolution. For instance, a monitor with a native resolution of 1600 x 900 has an aspect ratio of 16:9. 1920 x 1080 is also 16:9. 1920 x 1200 is 16:10.

While 16:9 is the prevailing standard, some monitors are still 16:10. A 16:10 aspect ratio will display HD video with a black band at the top and bottom of the screen; a 16:9 aspect ratio will display HD video without the black bands. If the black bands aren’t a problem for you, the 16:10 monitor will give you better resolution and more screen area.

Response time

The response time is a measure of how quickly a pixel can change colors, which is important for any video or animation playback. The industry norm is around 5ms, now. That’s more than adequate for most uses, but the faster the better.

Contrast ratio

Contrast ratio is a measure of the distinction between white and black levels. The higher this is the better. There are a variety of ways manufacturers measure contrast ratio and many manufacturers use their own methods, so use contrast ratio as a guide when choosing a monitor, but not a significant determining factor.

Screen size

Screen size is important, of course. The larger the viewable area, the more windows you can have open, and the easier it will be for you to work.

Other features

Some monitors have nice ergonomic features, such as tilt and height adjustments, others are very static, with little or no adjustability. Some monitors come with speakers, some have HDMI or USB ports, and some even have built-in TV tuners. Depending on how you use your monitor, some of these extra features might be very valuable, making the difference between buying one monitor or the other.

Larger screen sizes usually separate high-end monitors from entry-level and mid-range monitors, but high-end monitors will also have better response rates, typically less than 5ms; a variety of I/O options, particularly HDMI ports; and many other nice-to-have features, such as a wide-range of height and tilt adjustments or that built-in TV tuner, which might be handy if you’re a reporter, for instance and need to have the news on.

If you’re looking for a entry level or mid-range monitor, the following monitors are good choices. (Prices quoted are retail, but you can usually find all these monitors cheaper at online retailers. Be sure to shop around.)

Asus

Asus VS248H-P

The Asus VS series is priced as a mid-range monitor but has many of the features of a high-end monitor. It’s 2ms response time, is better than many high-end monitors. This response time, combined with the generous 24-inch screen area makes the Asus VS248H-P an excellent choice for video editing or playback.

This monitor is LED backlit and full HD with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. Other features include a slim profile, a tilt range from 5 to 20 degrees, HDMI, and an earphone mini-jack.

Retail price $229.

http://usa.asus.com/Display/LCD_Monitors/VS248HP/

Hanns-G

Hanns-G HZ201DPB

In the office environment, where daily computing tasks are typically word processing and web browsing, a high-response, HD monitor is usually overkill. If this is the case, an entry-level monitors might make more sense, potentially saving you money.

If you’re looking for an entry-level model, Hanns-G monitors are worth considering. The Hanns-G HZ201DPB is an entry-level monitor with enough features to get the job done without busting your budget. It’s a 20-inch monitor with built-in speakers, so it provides you with reasonable screen space while potentially saving you desktop space. The response time is 5ms – not great, but good enough – and the native resolution is 1600 x 900 is not quite widescreen HD, but more than adequate for most office work. Perhaps best of all, it’s LED backlit, so you’re saving money on a monitor and still not giving up on energy efficiency.

Retail price $149.

http://www.hannsg.com/US/EN/Products/LCD%20Monitors/Common.aspx?categoryID=230&productID=955

Hewlett Packard

HP 2011x

Another entry-level monitor, the HP 2011x 20-inch monitor has many of the same features as the Hanns-G HZ201DPB: the native resolution is 1600 x 900; the response time is 5ms; and it is also LED backlit. Even the price is about the same. The HP 2011x doesn’t come with speakers and that’s a benefit if you’re trying to keep noise down in the office. Perhaps more significant, the HP 2011x is especially energy efficient. The typical power consumption of the Hanns-G is around 35W, while the HP 2011x is 27W. A little less power consumption is a few extra dollars you don’t have to spend on electricity.

Retail price $139.

http://www.shopping.hp.com/webapp/shopping/product_detail.do?storeName=storefronts&landing=display&category=display&a1=Price+after+rebate&v1=Under+%24200&product_code=XP597AA%23ABA&catLevel=2

Planar

Planar PLL1900MW

The Planar PLL1900MW 19-inch monitor is another entry-level choice and it’s an example of how going down in size and giving up features doesn’t necessarily save you money, as you might expect. You might think 19 inch monitors would be more affordable than 20-inch monitors, but they’re not. The Planar PLL1900MW is an inch smaller and, with a native resolution of 1366 x 768, is going to be harder on the eyes, yet it’s about the same price as the HP and the Hanns-G monitors.

This Planar monitor does have built-in speakers, a 5ms response time, and LED backlighting, but the Hanns-G does, too. And with an extra inch of viewable area and the higher native resolution, the Hanns-G is the better buy. Good, affordable monitors now start around 20-inches. If for some reason you really want a smaller monitor – perhaps space considerations – be aware you’re probably not saving much money for what you’re giving up in benefits.

Retail price $149

http://www.planaronline.com/product/?id=997-6362-00

Samsung

Samsung 22A300B

The Samsung 22A300B is a 22-inch HD monitor, with a 1920 x 1080 native resolution, and has LED backlight. This monitor is an energy miser, with a power consumption rating of 23W.

With a response time of 5ms, the Samsung 22A300B isn’t quite in the same class as the ASUS, but it’s less expensive and uses less power. For the budget conscious who want a true HD monitor, this Samsung is a good choice.

This monitor also has one special feature. With most LCD monitors, it’s hard to view the screen from the side or other off angles, such as standing up or lying down; a co-worker trying to see your on-screen work would have to look over your shoulder to get a good view. Samsung’s MagicAngle Technology allows you to view the monitor screen even if you’re not directly in front of it. It’s a handy feature if you can’t always sit right in front of the screen or you need to share something on the screen with someone else.

http://www.samsung.com/us/computer/monitors/LS22A300BS/ZA-features

Retail price $199

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a monitor that won’t bust your budget, there are a number of good monitor choices on the market. 20 inches is sort of a tipping point for entry-level monitors: anything below 20 inches and you’ll probably give up some capability, such as resolution, for not a lot of savings.

If you can spend a little more, you can get some excellent monitors, like the Asus and Samsung, which are as good or better than much more expensive models. If you look for a monitor with at least a 5ms response time, a 1920 x 1080 native resolutions, and LED backlighting, you’ll be able to steer clear of poor choices and get the monitor you need at the price that suits your budget.

Don’t forget to shop around: There are always monitor bargains out there.

Images:

asusvs248h-p.bmp – The AsusVS248H-P, a 24-inch monitor with a fast 2ms response time.

hannsg.bmp – The Hanns-G 20-inch monitor has built-in speakers saving you desktop space.

hp2011x.bmp – The HP 2011x is energy efficient, with a power consumption rating of 27W.

planar.bmp – Planar’s 19-inch PLL1900MW has less resolution than comparably priced 20-inch monitors.

samsung.bmp – Samsung’s 22A300B: A highly energy-efficient, reasonably-priced 22-inch monitor.

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