LCDs and the digital revolution

Digital-first displays change the way the GCN Lab tests monitors'and raise the baseline for picture quality

I can see clearly now, the rain has gone'along with the moir' effects, and registration and color accuracy errors. At least for the most part.

That might not make for a great song, but it describes the difference a year can make with some technologies.

Even the worst LCDs in this roundup would have been middle-of-the-pack when we tested displays in 2005 [GCN.com, GCN.com/615].
One of the biggest reasons for the improvement is the increasing standardization on the Digital Visual Interface and the apparent phasing out of analog monitor connections.

The DVI connection means images coming from a video card don't have to be translated to an analog signal and reproduced by the monitor. The digital signal should be exactly how the computer renders it, with no distortion.

In practice, this isn't always the case, as some monitors have more problems with certain types of images than others, but every monitor should exhibit better image quality with a digital signal. Of the 11 LCDs tested, only one was analog-only. Most had both or were DVI-only.

This DVI evolution caused a change in our monitor test bed with the (likely permanent) retirement of our old StarTech VideoView analog splitter and implementation of the shiny new SmartView DVI duplicator.

The new switch lets us show exactly the same video image on up to eight monitors using a pure digital signal. As usual, we then put each monitor through the suite of DisplayMate Benchmarks (see story, Page 35), poring over every pixel, color, image and text screen on the LCDs.

Outstanding (but pricey)

In the end, and we don't normally like to say this, our favorite product was by far the most expensive. The $1,441 NEC MultiSync LCD2190UXi produces outstanding images, regardless of what you want to display, but with that government price tag, it's clearly not for everyone.

Fear not, though, we found the $625 ViewSonic VP2030b was nearly as good at less than half the price. Similarly, the $629 Eizo FlexScan S1931SH proved an excellent monitor, especially in drawing crisp, fine details.

So it goes without saying that thin is in, but now digital thin is also in. Keep that in mind when you go through your next desktop refresh, because you'll want PCs that will support the last display technology.

About the Author

John Breeden II is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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