The breathtaking images of the Sistine Chapel gaze at me across the centuries and oceans from the screen of my flat-panel monitor. As I surf the Web through the Italian Renaissance, many other images jump out at me -- Roma, Piazza Venezia, Vecchio Mercato, Vaticano, Florence, Botticcelli. Even though these images come from thousands of miles away, they bring back my youth in Italy. The monitor transports me to another time and place.
Monitors have come a long way from the days of simple blinks and glowing green text. In the past few years, they have become an affordable option for office and personal use where high-quality pictures, images, graphics and charts are important. The variety of monitors on the market is staggering. No matter what the users' requirements or budget, they can always find something in today's market that will fit their needs.
The most common monitor size is 15-inch. Fifteen-inch monitors are adequate for common uses such as word processing, spreadsheets, e-mailand the Internet. However, many multimedia programs, games and applications require more space to display video, pictures, words and graphics. And Michelangelo rocks on a 21-inch .25mm-dot-pitch monitor.
Improvements in graphics, video and sound quality have increased the demand for larger, higher-quality monitors. Seventeen-inch monitors are rapidly becoming the standard. They cost about $200 to $300 more than a 15-inch. However, 17-inch cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors are much bigger and heavier than the 15-inch, a problem for those with limited desk space. Nineteen-inch monitors are the second choice for upgrades. Since they come with shorter CRT tubes -- "short neck" -- they have the same depth as a 17-inch monitor and don't require more space than the 17-inch size.
The monitors marketed for most home computers are multimedia models, which include built-in speakers. However, for better sound, users often purchase separate speakers.
Below are many options for the monitor upgrade that will come when you finally can't stand squinting at your dusty 1992 12-inch unit. When you get your upgrade plugged in and warmed up, head straight for .
The A to Z of CRT
Optiquest 21-inch The Optiquest V115 monitor is a 21-inch CRT monitor with a 20-inch viewable area. It displays fine lines and small details. It has 0.26mm dot pitch and a maximum resolution of 1600x1280 dpi. At the recommended resolution of 1280x1024, it provides an 87Hz refresh rate for flicker-free viewing. The advanced SuperContrast screens provide well-defined pixels and greater contrast for bright, bold colors. On-screen menus and push buttons combine for adjusting image quality, size, position and geometry for optimal viewing. The monitor supports Plug & Play, surpasses strict MPR-II and EPA Energy Star standards and is TCO-certified for low power consumption and reduced emissions. It weighs 60.5 pounds, measures 19.8 inches by 19.2 inches by 20 inches and is compatible with PCs and Macs.
Optiquest 19-inch V95 is a 19-inch CRT with an 18-inch viewable area. The V95 creates a new category for the large-screen market, with the performance of a 21-incher at nearly half the price. The actual price and size compare to that of a typical 17-inch. Its super-fine 0.26mm dot pitch produces clear, crisp images with powerful picture definition, even at the maximum resolution of 1600x1280. OnView digital controls combine on-screen menus with convenient buttons to make adjusting image quality, size, position and geometry simple. The monitor supports Plug & Play for easy setup. V95 exceeds MPR-II and EPA Energy Star requirements. It measures 17.72 inches by 18.11 inches by 17.71 inches and weighs 48.4 pounds. Additional information is available by contacting Optiquest Inc. at 800/843-6784.
17-inch on a Diet Panasonic's 17-inch PanaSync SL70 is 15 percent smaller than conventional 17-inch monitors, with a 16-inch viewable area and up to 1280x1024 dpi resolution. The SL70 features Panasonic's PanaPerfect control system for on-screen display adjustment. It measures 16.1 inches by 16.4 inches
by 15 inches, weighs 37.4 pounds and costs about $399. Additional information is available by contacting Panasonic Computer Peripheral Co. at 800/PANASYS.
NEC MultiSync E900 The MultiSync E900 19-inch monitor offers resolution up to 1600x1200, 77Hz refresh and 0.26mm dot pitch. E900 is Plug & Play compliant and measures 17.6 inches by 18.2 inches by 19 inches, and weighing 52.5 pounds. It costs $799. Additional information is available by contacting NEC Technologies at 800/632-4662.
Multimedia 15-inch Monitor The VSx-5 15-inch monitor incorporates a compact and powerful stereo speaker system -- two 5W speakers -- 13.8-inch viewable area and 0.28mm dot pitch with a maximum resolution of 1280x1024. The VSX-5 measures 370mm by 419mm by 407mm and weighs 34 pounds. Additional information is available by contacting KDS USA at 714/379-5599.
Smart Touch For Kiosks TouchTools Web Enabler converts simple Web sites into full-fledged touch-screen applications. It allows users to easily and quickly surf the Web using their fingers to navigate. It is well-suited for public Internet kiosks. The system offers a host of customizable features. Additional information is available by contacting ELO TouchSystems at 800/356-8682.
Silicon Graphics Silicon Graphics' 1600SW flat-panel monitor offers a 17.3-inch screen comparable to a 19-inch CRT monitor's. The monitor can display 24-nit graphics (916 million colors) at resolutions up to 1600x1024, at a 60Hz refresh and 110dpi. SGI is bundling it with a 32MB graphic cards. With the base unit, it measures 17.85 inches by 18.37 inches by 7.37 inches and weighs 16 pounds. Additional information is available by contacting Silicon Graphics at 888/744-7373.
As Fine As Eyes Can See
Scientists at IBM are introducing a new flat-panel display that allows users to see text and images with 200 pixels per inch -- 40,000 pixels per square inch. The prototype display, code-named Roentgen, has twice the pixels in the same space as common CRT desktop monitors, which display 80 and 100 pixel per inch, while the Roentgen has 200 per inch. According to the company, the unit is also capable of displaying almost two pages at once. The new display offers full-color depth and gray-scale shading on a 16.3-inch diagonal viewing area of 2560x2048 pixels -- more than 5.2 million full-color pixels. This technology is initially aimed at specialized applications such as medical, design, etc. According to the company, the display will cost about $5,000. Additional information is available by contacting IBM.
Hitachi's SelecTop series of LCD Hitachi's 18.1-incher with super-thin film transistor has a resolution of 1280x1024 pixels, and 16.77 million colors. It has a wide viewing angle of 160 degrees, vertically and horizontally. Additional information is available by contacting Hitachi America Ltd. at 800/811-1130.
Nokia Nokia's 800Xi flat-panel display is an 18-inch LCD (18.1-inch viewable) with an active viewing area comparable to a 20-inch CRT, and takes up significantly less desk space, with a depth of a mere 3.26 inches. It provides a viewing angle of a full 170 degrees, vertically and horizontally. With a horizontal dot pitch of 0.28mm, maximum resolution of 1280x1024 and a refresh rate of 75Hz. Additionally, the 800Xi has an anti-theft loop in which a security cable can be attached, an increasingly popular feature of flat panel displays in high-traffic enterprise environments. The 800Xi features Safety Plex, a tough plexi-glass screen. Plug & Play capabilities enable users to connect peripheral devices without powering down. Additional information is available by contacting Nokia at 800/By-Nokia.
Optiquest Flat Panel Display The L700 is a 15.1-inch TFT active-matrix display with a 15-inch viewable area. It provides 0.26mm dot pitch and produces clear, crisp images with maximum resolution of 1024x768, supporting 16.2 million colors. It features a 40-watt power source and low emissions, flicker-free images, 200-nit luminance and 200 to 1 contrast ratio. A four-button OnView control allows the users to customize contrast, brightness, h/v position, color temperature, video level and 15 other settings. The L700 measures
16 inches by 14.2 inches by 7.2 inches and weighs 11.4
pounds. It costs about $979. Additional information is available by contacting Optiquest Inc. at 800/843-6784.
Panasonic LC50S The LC50S digital multiscan LCD monitor with built-in stereo speakers has a 15-inch viewable area. It features a distortion-free TFT active-matrix screen, two built-in single-watt speakers, 0.297mm dot pitch and a spectrum of 16.2 million colors. The LC50S is TCO and Energy Star compliant and supports Plug & Play. It weighs 15.18 pounds, measures 15.2 inches by 15.4 inches by 7.9 inches and costs about $999. Additional information is available by contacting Panasonic Computer Peripheral Company at 800/PANASYS.
LCD400 MultiSync LCD400 has a 20.1-inch viewable image area and features True Color Active matrix TFT with XtraView technology. It includes 0.31mm dot pitch, maximum resolution of 1280x1024 and a 75Hz refresh rate. It weighs 22 pounds. It has the Intelligent Power Management system and EPA Energy Star, and measures 19.7 inches by 19 inches by 8.7 inches. The Ergo Design in the LCD400 increases comfort for maximum productivity and ease of use. Ergo Design elements include compatibility with third-party mounting arms, allowing users to mount the monitor to a wall or table, adding flexibility and saving desktop space. Additional information is available by contacting NEC Technologies at 800/632-4662.
Paint and Touch The pressure-sensitive, full-color PL-400LCD Pen Tablet has an ultra-fast digital video card. The pen allows users to directly input data, navigate applications, sign or annotate documents, add graphic information or draw or paint while seeing all strokes and actions at the stylus point, like a pen on paper. The overall dimensions are 13.7 inches by 11.7 inches by 1.6 inches, with resolution of 1024x768 at 18 bits (256,000 colors). It cost about $3,000. Additional information is available by contacting Wacom Co. Ltd. at 800/922-2589.
The Big Picture
The Plasma Sync 4200W The Plasma Sync 4200W is a 42-inch plasma display that offers a 16:9 aspect ratio with more than 16.7 million colors. It measures 3.5 inches deep, with resolution of 853x480. It is compatible with VGA and SVGA via soft-scaling interpolation, and with HDTV, DVD, NTSC, M-NTSC, S-video, PAL and SECAM signal format. It is well-suited for conferences, training, board meetings and public displays. It includes a multifunction remote control with an LCD touch panel to control the display and to control other input devices such as DVD players, laser discs or VCRs. It also has a 100-watt speaker or NEC's wafer-thin NXT speakers, and can be wall-mounted. It measures 41.3 inches by 28.7 inches by 8.7 inches (with stand) and weighs 86 pounds. Additional information is available by contacting NEC Technologies at 800-836-0566.
The Sony PFM-500A1WU The Sony PFM-500A1WU presentation monitor is suited to information kiosks, airports, train stations, bus terminals, trade shows and exhibitions, high-definition displays, schools, conference/board /training rooms, museum, rentals, amusement facilities and home theater. Features: A 42-inch viewable area; A 16:9 and 4:3 switchable aspect ratio -- the ratio of the width to height of an object; Six-inch depth, weighing under 105 pounds; Built-in scan converter for use with multiple video and computer signals; The ability to accept signals such as video, Macintosh, VGA, SVGA, XGA, SXGA and HDTV; Carrying handle; Aluminum die-cast bezel; and Immunity to magnetic interference. Additional information is available by contacting Sony Electronic Inc.