Monitors By Joshua Blagden | JB - Mac Help | JBlagden

Monitors By Joshua Blagden


Monitors* are an interesting topic. A monitor is something which usually seems rather insignificant, but it can be a very important thing to consider. When choosing a monitor, there are a number of things to consider:

1. Size

2. Resolution

3. Pixel density

4. Monitor Technology

5. Refresh Rate

6. Display Finish


One important thing to consider when choosing a monitor is the size. To save money, you might want a small monitor, say around 15 inches. Or you might want something big like a 32 inch TV. The size you want can depend on both the amount of money and space you can (or are willing to) allot to this purchase.


Resolution is also an important thing to consider. If you’re just browsing the web, working on email and documents, a 720p or lower resolution monitor could be fine. However, if you want to watch movies or play games on it, a 1080p monitor is a good idea.


Pixel density is something that most people don’t think about. Though, you’re reminded of it every time you see the phrase “Retina Display”.  For example, the pixel density of my 13 inch MacBook Pro’s built-in 1280x800 monitor is 113.49 DPI, while the pixel density of my old external 18.5 inch 1366x760 monitor is 84.71 DPI and the pixel density of my new 20 inch 1600x900 20 inch monitor is 91.79 DPI. To find out the pixel density of a monitor, you can go to http://pxcalc.com


The next thing to consider is the refresh rate of the monitor. Most monitors have a a refresh rate of 60 hertz, which means that it can refresh 60 times each second. Many gamers like to use a monitor that has a refresh rate of 120 hertz or even as high as 144 hertz. The only issue with this measurement is the most display manufacturers seem to have switched from using hertz as the unit of measurement to milliseconds. To deal with this change, just remember that a monitor with a 20 millisecond response time will be fine for basic things like email and word processing, while a monitor with a 5 millisecond response time will be good for gaming.


Another thing to consider is the monitor technology. Monitors can use either LCD, LED or OLED technology. LCD is certainly the most ubiquitous, and probably the least expensive. LED displays can produce brighter pictures than LCD displays and can also produce better images than LCD displays. OLED is even better, but won’t be used for anything bigger than a calculator display because they’re very expensive. An LED monitor is the same as an LCD monitor, the only difference being that an LCD panel uses a fluorescent backlight, while an LED panel uses an LED backlight.


The last thing to consider is the finish of the monitor. It seems like most monitors have a matte finish, as it produces less glare, but there are some which have a glossy finish. Glossy and matte finishes have their advantages and disadvantages. Namely, a glossy finish will make the display look clearer, but will cause some glare, while a matte finish will eliminate glare, but it’ll also make the monitor produce a slightly lower-quality picture.

*I could cover projectors here, but I’m just discussing monitors, not displays in general.

© Joshua Blagden & Justin Barczak 2013-2015
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