Monitors (also called displays) display output. The on-screen display enables you to see your processed data. It’s important to remember the screen display isn’t a permanent record. To drive home this point, screen output is sometimes called soft copy, as opposed to hard copy (printed output). To make permanent copies of your work, you should save it to a storage device or print it.
The large monitors that look like television screens connected to desktop computers are CRT, or cathode-ray tube, monitors. CRT monitors have three light units, often referred to as guns. Each of these ‘guns’ handles one color, either red, green or blue, which can be combined in varying intensities to produce any on-screen color.
Thinner monitors used by all laptop computers and now the standard for new desktop computers are know as LCDs, which is the acronym for liquid crystal displays. LCDs come in two main types, the cheaper passive-matrix LCD monitor and the more expensive Thin Film Transistor LCD monitor. The qualities of the output as well as the flaws displayed by the different types of LCD monitor are the main reason for the varying price. LCD monitors are also the type of monitor found in smaller devices such as PDAs and many cell phones.
The final type of computer monitor is HD, or high definition. Just as high definition TVs this is the cutting edge of computer monitor technology and provides perhaps the closest to real picture possible. While LCD monitors come close they have a difficult time displaying dark areas and are somewhat less sharp than HD monitors. Over the next few years expect this to be the new mainstream computer monitor technology.
One common misconception that many people have about computer monitors is how the screen size is measured. You will often see a monitor marked as a 17″ or 21″, the way that this is figured can be quite misleading. This measurement is, in fact, the length of monitor’s surface area measured in a diagonal from one corner to the next.
Resolution is very common term thrown around and one of the biggest gauges of a computer monitor’s quality. Resolution is expressed by the number of pixels which are able to be displayed horizontally followed by the number of pixels which are able to be displayed vertically, an ‘x’ is used as the divider of the two pixel measurements. In most cases, especially today, the monitor’s pixel capability, or resolution, is limited by the computer’s video card and not the monitor itself so this is no longer so important to look at as it once was when selecting a new computer monitor.